The Dos and Don’ts of Buying a Golf Club
Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned pro, buying golf clubs is necessary. As a new golfer, it can be a little confusing and intimidating. Which ones should you buy? Do you need a full set? Does brand name matter?
As an old hat, it’s more likely you’re replacing a club that got damaged during play or a set of clubs that got lost in transit on your last flight. You probably know what works for you already.
Regardless of why you’re shopping, the process is the same. And the dos and don’ts of buying a golf club are just as relevant for experienced golfers as they are for newbies. If you stick to these rules before buying, there’s a higher chance that you’ll end up with the right club for you!
Let’s dive into what you need to know before you go golf club shopping and what you should and shouldn’t be doing to make sure you get the right clubs.
Why Do Quality Golf Clubs Matter?
Whatever your level of skill, the golf club is your weapon on the golf course. You can’t play the sport without it, and if you’re a great golfer, you can probably pick up any golf club you find and play a decent round with it.
But if you’re new to the sport or a little less experienced, the quality of your golf clubs matters. Choosing lower-quality golf clubs might be more cost-effective, but the truth is, if you aren’t working with tools that work with you, your game could be negatively affected.
You want to feel comfortable with your own clubs like they’re an extension of you. But you also need to choose the right clubs for the job. You’ll never get to the green quickly and easily if you have a driver with no power, for example!
While a lot of power comes from you, your clubs are important. Poor quality clubs mean you’ll need to work twice as hard to get through a round. High-quality clubs mean your game will be smoother, easier, and more fun from tee-off to post-round drinks!
Decide Between New & Used
You don’t always have to buy new golf clubs. Used ones can be more affordable and still be in great condition, but you’ll need to know what to look for when you check them out.
If you’re adamant that used golf clubs aren’t a great idea, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going for new ones. But if you’re looking to get good quality gear at a bit of a lower price, it’s worth having a look for used golf clubs first.
Choose for Beginner vs Expert
Golf clubs made specifically for beginners typically have a shorter shaft and a bigger clubface (a larger surface area to hit the ball with). If you’re buying a club as a beginner, this is going to be essential—be careful not to get snookered into buying something fancy meant for pros!
If you are an accomplished golfer, you can take your pick. You’ll most likely already have an idea of what works well for you and what kind of feel you’re looking for in a club.
Go for Quality Over Quantity
If you’re an experienced golfer who’s just replacing one club, this isn’t relevant. But if you’re a beginner who’s looking at buying a whole set, you don’t need to buy a full bundle of golf clubs before you set foot onto the course.
Many salespeople will try to convince you that you need to buy the full set of clubs, complete with a fancy bag, for a hefty price. The truth is, you only need about half the clubs in order to be able to play a great round of golf.
You can get half-sets designed for new golfers. Alternatively, you can do your own research and put together your own set of clubs based on what you’d like. But there’s no need to go for a full set upfront. Focus on the basics—driver, putter, a few hybrids, and a wedge.
We suggest going for hybrids instead of irons if you’re a new golfer. They’re a combination club between a wood and an iron, and they’re much easier to control and more forgiving. Once you’re used to them, you can consider buying irons instead.
Do A Bit of Research
Don’t just walk into the sporting store unprepared. That leaves you open to salespeople bulldozing you! Do your research beforehand on the club/clubs you want to buy and know what to look for when testing it.
When you’ve already got a good idea of what you’re shopping for, you’re much less likely to be sold poor-quality clubs or coerced into getting something you don’t actually need. Be prepared to stand up to a pushy salesperson as well, although you can get ahead of potential awkwardness by telling them upfront what clubs you’re looking for.
Test Before Buying
Never buy a golf club before you’ve had a chance to give it a good test swing. It’s like buying a car without test driving it first! I’m not just talking about a soft little half-swing, either. You need to be able to test it with a proper, fully-powered swing, preferably actually hitting a ball.
This enables you to feel the flexibility of the club, test if the length is right for you, and get a good idea of if the club is comfortable to wield. If you can’t test the club, go somewhere else and find clubs you can test!
Quick tip to determine if the club is flexible enough for you: You should be able to hit a straight shot with no slicing if the club is the right flexibility. If you slice the ball to the right, it’s an indication that the club shaft is too stiff. But if you slice it to the left, it’s a sign that the club shaft is a little too flexible for you.
Test The Grip Too
Don’t get so busy testing the flexibility of the club that you forget to test the grip. If it’s a little too thin for you, it can cause unnecessary hand and forearm fatigue while you’re playing. If it’s too thick, your grip will be compromised and your power will be affected.
Here’s a quick test. Hold the grip lightly with just the middle and ring finger of your dominant hand. If your fingers lightly touch the pad of the thumb, the grip is a good width for you. If your thumb overlaps the thumb pad or pushes into it quite significantly, the grip is likely too thin. On the other hand, if the fingers don’t touch the pad at all, the grip is too thick.
Ask Fellow Golfers for Advice & Help
If you play golf with your buddies or you happen to know the guys down at the local golf club ask their advice before buying. Many of them have their own preferences when it comes to clubs, but they’ll be able to offer some advice on what to buy and why.
We also highly recommend trying out a variety of golf clubs before you even go shopping. Ask your friends if you can try theirs and try multiple different brands on the driving range or in the sports store. This will help you to decide what really works for you.
The idea is to find a club that feels good when you swing it. You want something that works with you, that you can grip easily, and that offers the right amount of flexibility and strength. Borrowing your friends’ clubs for a few rounds on the driving range will help you to understand what you like and what you don’t so you don’t waste your time when shopping!
Equally as important as what you should be doing when buying a golf club is what you shouldn’t be doing. Avoid doing these things and you’ll avoid the trouble!
Buy the First Cubs You See
We highly recommend testing out a good few options before buying a golf club. The best way to figure out what works for you is to compare it to many other options! You’ll soon get a feel for what you like in a club and what you don’t enjoy.
Making rash buying decisions could land you with a set of golf clubs that aren’t really the best for you. Even if you really liked the first set you tested, we recommend trying at least a few more so you can compare effectively and make sure the first set was truly as great as you thought!
Listen to the Salesperson
If you walk into a dedicated golf shop, the salespeople are likely to know a thing or two about the sport. But if you walk into a general sports store, it’s more likely that you aren’t talking to a golfing expert. Regardless, the salesperson’s job is to make sales, not to provide each person with exactly what they need (general, but most often true).
It’s highly likely that any good salesperson is going to try to sell you the full set of clubs, regardless of what you truly need. This is why it’s essential to do your research first! If you know exactly what you’re looking for, there’s a much smaller chance of you being taken in by someone who’s just trying to make a good commission.
Only Consider Brand Names
If you’re a beginner who’s familiar with golf or an experienced golfer who prefers to stick to what the pros use, chances are you know the top brand names when it comes to golf clubs.
Beginners, unless you have money to burn and you’re certain that you’re going to fall in love with the game, avoid buying big brand-name golf clubs to start. They’re pricey and not as easy to control as clubs made specifically for beginners.
If you’re an experienced golfer, there’s still no need for big brand names. If you’ve found that you play better with a certain brand of clubs, you’re more than welcome to invest in brand-name golf clubs. But as long as your clubs feel good in your hand, are great on the swing, and do their job for you, you still don’t have to spend a fortune.
Buy On a Whim
Neglecting to do research can lead to you spending more money than you need on golf clubs that aren’t quite right for you! Sure, it’s tempting to buy one the moment you see it, even before you’ve put thought or research into it.
But unfortunately, buying a golf club without deciding what you want and matching it to your needs beforehand can be a recipe for disaster. If the club isn’t the right size, the shaft isn’t flexible enough, or the grip is slightly too thick, you’ll not only feel uncomfortable when playing with it, but it’s definitely not going to help your game!
Researching beforehand, as well as trying a variety of different clubs to find what works for you, is the best way to understand what feels good in your hand and what you have a high level of success with.
Buying golf clubs is quite a personal thing. Whether you’re new to it and swinging your first clubs in the store, or you’re replacing an old faithful, these rules of thumb will prevent you from choosing something that’s not going to work for you.
Golf clubs aren’t cheap, either. It’s in your best interest to make sure that you shop smartly and efficiently and end up with the golf clubs you actually need and like playing with.
Beginners, remember that you don’t need all the clubs in the bag, hybrids are your friend and test absolutely everything thoroughly before buying. Experienced golfers, remember not to be complacent!
If you think logically, research carefully, and test every club with the thought that you’ll be using it for the next decade, buying a golf club doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience. It can actually be quite enjoyable!
About the Author
Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer and a businessman. He still spends most of his time on the course, either working on his own game or mentoring young golfers. When he’s not swinging his clubs or coaching, he writes for his own website, Golf Influence.