Golf Clubs 101

By: Alexis Gibrault

Golf is one of the most popular pastimes in this country, for both young and old. Golfers contentedly while away their days on the sunny green talking politics and weather, enjoying the recreation as if it were a fine aged whiskey before a roaring fireplace. Like any sport, however, you must start with the basics before you enjoy the true benefits of playing with this sort of graceful ease. For beginners, one of the most important pieces to begin with is the right equipment, and quite arguably the most important device is the club. The standard beginning golf set generally includes the following clubs-which as your skill increases, will alter once you get a feel for what works best with your grip, swing and control, but for starters-: 3 woods (1-driver, 3, and 5), 8 irons (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and a pitching wedge), and a putter. This useful arsenal of 12 clubs will help you make different plays possible, depending on distance and loft (the angle of the club's face inversely related to the distance needed). To fully understand the dynamics of each club, let's take a look at each one below in detail.

Woods

The three woods included in your standard beginning golf set should be the 1 wood or driver, the 3, and the 5 (commonly referred to as Fairway Woods). This classification of golf clubs is used for maximum distance. Typically, the distance to the green should be a minimum of 175 yards or more away from you, when you use a golf wood. The 1 wood or driver as it is most commonly referred to, has the lowest loft of the woods. The loft or angle of the club's face in relation to the ball is between 7 and 12 degrees (depending on skill). Having a low loft will help you send the ball further (or drive the ball) rather than higher. The 3 wood has a loft between 15 and 18 degrees, and the 5 wood a loft between 20 and 22 degrees; and so you can see that with each successive type of wood, the loft is higher and the capacity for distance less. Moreover, it is worthwhile mentioning that the higher the golf club number (woods and otherwise), the shorter the golf club. This is to minimize the arc of the swing, thereby slowing its momentum and lessening the distance of the play.

Irons

The eight irons included in your standard beginning golf set should be the 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and pitching wedge. As noted earlier, the higher the club number, the shorter the club and the higher the loft. The higher the loft, the lower the distance incurred with a swing. The 3-9 irons offer varying distances for your varying short distance tees. The pitching wedge typically has a loft of 48 degrees for a very close tee. The purpose of irons is generally for distances of less than 200 yards away. It is useful to add that there are a variety of wedges, besides the standard pitching wedge, that seasoned golfers employ. As a beginner, a pitching wedge will do just fine; but in time, you'll need the rest: approach wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, high lob wedge, and last wedge (with a varying loft of 52-68 degrees).

Putters

The putter included in your standard beginning golf set is used simply as the last maneuver, to play the ball to the hole. You are almost on top of the hole at this point, and the putter is used to sink the ball. Though a standard putter will work for beginner golfers, it is again necessary to point out that seasoned golfers carry a variety of golf putters in their bags to deal with varying needs in those final seconds of sinking the putt. Other types of putters to learn about in the future include: short, belly, long, bent, center-hosel, heel-toe, mallet, etc.

So there it is: an introduction to what to include in your golf set on those first sunny days on the green. More importantly, having discussed how and when to use the different woods, irons, and putters you should be up to trying your hand at the sport so many call their favorite pastime: the age old game of golf.

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