Are you looking to start playing golf or already a seasoned player getting ready for your next game? Regardless of where you are in your golfing journey, making the right choice among the different types of golf clubs is essential to enhance your performance on the playing field. With the right kind of golf club in your hands, you can alter the way you play while getting rid of any handicaps.
Golf Clubs 101
Golf clubs are the tools we use to hit golf balls and put them into play. The rules of golf constrain golf club designs. Still, the objective of clubmakers is to design golf clubs that maximize the mechanics behind a golfer’s swing while allowing for some swing error to provide an accurate, long, and forgiving shot. You’d require a less tolerant club the better your swing gets, while the more you need to improve your swing, the better off you are with a more forgiving club design.
A modern set of golf clubs usually includes three woods (the 1-driver, 3, and 5), at least one hybrid (3H), seven irons (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and PW), and a putter. You’ll require a total of twelve clubs to start. Since the rules of golf allow you to carry fourteen clubs in your bag, many golfers add an extra wedge or specialty hybrid, which can both come in handy when a specific situation arises. After all, the more tools you have in the bag, the more choices you have to help you bring your A-game every time.
Without further ado, let’s meet the different club categories:
Also known as “The Big Dog,” this club is a favorite among golf players because it hits the furthest. Many will attest that there’s nothing like stepping on a wide-open tee box and hitting the driver, making the ball appear to fly into another hemisphere. It’s pretty satisfying to propel a tiny white ball and make it go the distance.
However, not all holes need one. You use this particular golf club specifically off the tee. Since this is the case, you need to check the hole map on your scorecard or GPS if your cart is equipped with one. Notice how far the ball needs to go to make your next shot into the green as easy as possible.
Remember that golf isn’t always about hitting those cool-looking shots; it’s also about hitting brilliant shots if you want to play well and lower your score. A seasoned player knows that not every hole requires distance. Often, you’ll also need to work on your placement.
Drivers come in a variety of weights. The rule of thumb here is if you have a faster swing, you should go for a stiff shaft in there to ensure the club’s in line more. Also, get a driver that has its weight towards the back of the head so that you can maximize your swing speed. If you’re the type of player with a more moderate swing speed, though, you will benefit more from a lighter-weighted driver that’s engineered to achieve distance, given the manner in which weight is distributed in the club.
The majority of drivers have fully adjustable lofts and angles, so you can work together in finding the exact configuration without having to modify your swing.
They’re also known as metal woods since none of the clubheads in the market are still made of wood. Instead, most of them are made of steel or titanium.
This type of golf club is considered the second-in-command. It’s like a driver but meant for the fairway. Woods can come in handy for longer holes, like the par 5, to get up close to the green on your second shot. The most popular are a 3, which is the longest, and a 5. Although there are available options for a 4 or 7 wood and can even go higher at times for added control, we can determine whether those are necessary depending on your distances.
Using these clubs to hit a golf ball can be challenging at the onset, but if you learn to use them the right way, you’ll realize that they’re an essential weapon in your arsenal.
Generally, woods are longer than most clubs, and the ball will not be teed up the way you do with your driver. Since this is the case, using them requires you to perform a nice slow long swing to ensure the club stays on plane and makes proper contact.
When and How to Use
Experts don’t recommend using woods when the ball is way above or below your feet since it’s tough to consistently perform a solid ball strike. Moreover, you should shy away from using them in the rough as that is meant for the hybrid, which we will discuss later in this article.
If you have a safe and lovely flat-like long shot before you from the fairway, woods are the absolute best golf club to pull from your pocket. I’d recommend trying them off the tee when you think it’s too risky to utilize a driver. A teed ball using woods will allow for a smoother, easier shot without powering the ball.
Hybrids are newcomers to the golf club family. They only became popular around the turn of the twenty-first century, despite having existed for several years before that. Consider a hybrid’s clubhead to be a cross between a wood and an iron. Thus, the term “hybrid.”
Hybrids may be the most underutilized clubs in the bag. Being the wood category’s younger cousin, they are similar in shape but are shorter and have smaller heads.
They are also referred to as utility clubs or rescue clubs because they are designed to dig down and launch the ball out of the rough. Fairway woods (as previously mentioned) will be challenging to use in the same situation because their wide clubhead can easily get snagged by the grass.
Hybrids are numbered similarly to irons (e.g., 2-hybrid, 3-hybrid, and so on), and the number corresponds to the iron they’re substituting. This explains why hybrids are called “iron-replacement clubs,” which means that many golfers find them easier to hit than the irons they replace. However, if you opt for hybrids, you’re more likely to use them as a replacement for the long irons (2-, 3-, 4- or 5-irons).
Undoubtedly, irons are the clubs you use most often among the other choices in your weapons stash. The iron you choose in a specific situation may spell the difference between a low and high score on a hole. Having said this, it’s a must for you to practice hitting a few shots with each type of iron so you can easily judge which one you’ll need for your on-the-course shots.
Generally, every iron that’s one number higher will go 10 yards less than the previous one, for example, 3 iron – 180 yds, 4 iron 170 yds, 5 iron 160 yds. These are the clubs you’ll use to advance the ball onto the green and once you get within a few feet of the hole.
Listed below are the major categories of irons:
Long to Mid Irons (3-6)
The 3 and 4 irons are your designated long irons, although the 5 and 6 are long irons as well, depending on the loft of your set (although they can be referred to as mid irons in other situations). These are meant for situations when your shots are a little too long to use woods or hybrids but still have a chance of landing on the green.
They’re the best choice if you have a long shot in the fairway and the ball is above or below your feed. They may have an extended feel, but you need not worry. As long as you swing nice and easy, you’ll have no trouble hitting the sweet spot. Finally, they’re also great for windy shots because they offer more roll and a lower ball flight.
Short Irons (7-9)
These irons will be among your favorites clubs from the bag. It’s easy to understand why, as you use them primarily for the “awesome” shots. These are the clubs you’ll use when you have the opportunity to hit a shot close to the hole. They’re lightweight, high-flying, and have a lot of spin in them. How they feel in your hand will most likely determine your choice of iron since you gain a great deal of control over them. Others are lighter in weight which some players prefer, while others prefer to go for a slightly heavier option. It’s all up to you. Usually, you will be utilizing these at 150 yards or less and are favorite options for a par 3.
Wedges are the ultimate category of clubs to utilize as you get very close to the green. With wedges, you’ll achieve maximum spin and height, apart from learning to stop them on a dime. They are also the right choice if you’re looking to avoid missing the green by pitching it close to the hole, allowing you to get up and down and save a few strokes.
You’d want to familiarize yourself with wedges as they’ll come in handy in particularly tricky situations. You’ll be glad you know how to control them effortlessly to land near the hole far, more times than not.
The following are the most common wedge types:
Pitching Wedge (PW) – 46-50 Degree Loft:
You can count on a pitching wedge to provide more spin and height while allowing a distance that’s closer to a 9 iron. You’ll find out that depending on the layout of the green, there are some holes where you want to spin the ball and others where you want a little more roll. This type of club is far more spin-oriented and is a favorite for those 100-yard shots for average golfers.
Gap Wedge or Attack Wedge (GW/AW) – 52-54 Degree Loft:
Although a few sets include both, with a few minor variations for players who depend on wedges more than others, these two are often interchangeable. These clubs offer a bit more control but a little less distance, typically about five or ten yards less than your pitching wedges. They’re also great coming out of the rough to help you get those clutch saves.
Sand Wedge (SW) – 56 Degree:
As the name implies, sand wedges are your go-to clubs when your ball ends up on the dreaded greenside bunker.
With their face designed to dig out of the sand, practicing with this club will save your hole – and your score – more times than not. You may also use them for lower, more controlled wedge shots, but their primary purpose is still to get you off that beach!
Lob Wedge (LW) – 60 Degree:
If you need to hit high shots without much distance but a lot of spin, lob wedges are your go-to club. They have a super flat loft of 60 degrees, designed to sweep under the ball, popping it nearly vertical off the face. They’re also great for hitting a higher shot that will allow you to get over a hazard like a bunker or water. Additionally, they’re also great out of the rough, almost cutting the grass out from under the ball. When you find yourself in a tricky situation near the green, use this club to impress your friends in no time.
One of the types of golf clubs you need in your bag if you want to go low is the putter. Although it doesn’t appear like it at the start. They may not offer the same swag that other golf shots show, but this the way to go if you want to score.
Learning how to use this club to make tricky 10-15 foot putts or 30 footers within a few inches of the hole will drop your handicap from a 20 to a 10 in no time. If you haven’t already, it’s a great practice to try out putters often.
It’s a unique club and is available in a wide range of heads and weights. For instance, you might prefer a lighter putter but find a big, fat putter head distracting. It’s all about how they feel in your hands. Depending on the length and angle of your putt, you’ll have to learn to be delicate or aggressive with them. This makes knowing how the ball moves off a putter that you’re comfortable with incredibly important.
To avoid skipping or skidding, all putters are built to start the ball rolling smoothly. They do just that with minimal backspin. Generally, all putters have an amount of loft at 3 or 4 degrees.
Purchasing golf clubs is unlike grocery shopping in every aspect. All types of golf clubs require you to be knowledgeable and precise since they can impact your performance on the greens or fairways. To ensure you get the ultimate golfing experience, you need to hunt for the golf clubs that best suit you.
If you’re unsure of what golf club to utilize for a particular shot, take the time to understand your capabilities. It is best to familiarize yourself with the appropriate equipment for your skill level. Keep in mind that various skill levels require different clubs. The last thing you want to do is get gears based on paid ads or celebrity endorsements. Instead, make use of the fitting procedure a professional club fitter offers. Doing this will help you understand the game better.
See related article: Golf Club Length Chart for Beginners