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What Golf Clubs should a Beginner keep in their Bag?

What Golf Clubs should a Beginner Keep in their Bag?

Golf is an interesting sport while at the same time a complex game which continues to attract new players. Once you understand the game and all the terms that come with it, you are ready to consider what will be one of the largest investments you can make to your golf game – a set of clubs.

When many new players start shopping for golf clubs they can be overwhelmed at the variety of brands, club types, material composition, etc.  A common fallacy in the golfing community is that buying more expensive clubs will make you a better golfer.  Although advancements in technology can help improve your game (at a higher cost) a player will nearly always be better served by having a set of clubs that have been fitted to them and their swing.

The rules of golf stipulate that a player can have up to 14 clubs in their golf bag.  However, as a beginner you may not need a full set.  If your budget allows, it is advisable to carry the maximum number of clubs so you can take advantage of a variety of lofts which will impact your shot-making.

So, what are the right clubs for a high handicapper/beginner? The principle is that the right set of clubs is the one that works for you and the wrong one is the set that doesn’t. It means that there is no clear set of clubs meant for a golf beginner. What matters is the combination of clubs the beginner should have in the bag.

A combination ranges from a set of Woods combined with a set of Irons, hybrids, wedges and a putter. It has to be acknowledged that the needs of a lower handicapper (seasoned player) will not be the same as a higher handicapper in the context of the clubs they use. The same applies for beginners; not all high handicappers use the same set of clubs in their games.

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Here is a general list of what should be contained in a high handicapper’s bag:

  • Driver (optional), 3-wood, 5-wood (optional)
  • 4, 5 and 6-hybrids
  • 7, 8 and 9-irons
  • Pitching wedge
  • Sand Wedge (optional)
  • Putter

The Woods (Driver, 3-wood, 5-wood) have the least amount of loft and many beginners find these clubs to be the most difficult to hit consistently.  The low amount of loft makes it difficult to get the ball in the air.  As a result, many beginners can get by only one or two Woods. 

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There are a number of Irons available on the market ranging from a 1 iron to a 9 iron.  Similar to the Woods, a 1, 2, or 3 iron has a similarly low amount of loft. There is no need for a beginner to have an iron club lower than 4 iron. A 4-iron is good for the starting point of the course as it’s easier to hit the ball and get it airborne. If a high handicapper still finds it difficult to use, then they could go for a higher iron in the range of 7-iron to 9-iron.

Most beginners are best served by incorporating a number of hybrids in their bag in lieu of a 5-wood and a 3 or 4 iron.  The design of the hybrid is a mix between the larger head and flatter base that a Wood has with the higher loft and shorter shaft length of an iron.  The result is a club that is easier to hit and get airborne.  Every golfer, especially beginners should have at least one hybrid in their bag.

As you get closer to the hole, wedges play a critical role in shot-making and lower scores.  These clubs will allow you to hit short pitches or chips around the green as well as help escape a troublesome greenside sand bunker.

You can find a number of wedge lofts and designs.  Generally, you want between a 4 to 5 degree difference between your wedges.  A small gap is not enough to notice much difference and a larger gap will cost you accuracy.

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Lastly, every golfer needs a putter including the beginners. There is a wide array of putters available in hundreds of designs to choose from. What matters is what is comfortable for you. With the listed options you now know what is conducive for a beginner; a set of about 9-12+ assorted clubs.

What Club Lofts Work Best For Beginners?

A loft is the angle of the club face that controls the trajectory of the golf ball and the distance that it will go. Many high handicappers make the mistake of not knowing what to choose. It's advisable that beginners choose clubs with high loft angles. Lower loft drivers are harder to hit and require much more skills as compared to higher loft drivers. Experienced players prefer lower loft drivers to maximize distance. The advantage of using a higher loft driver is that it gives out a combination of less spin and getting the ball to a higher trajectory for maximum accuracy.

For a high handicapper, one of the most misunderstood aspects of picking a good driver is the loft. Most beginners would pick a loft that their favorite professional golfer is using in contrast to taking the time to choose a loft that best fits their skill level. New players do not have the skill necessary to try and mirror the set of their favorite pro and have much success.  Check with your local golf shop or club to get professionally measured.

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If a professional is not available for your measurement, then you can use some general guidelines to determine your swing speed and the best clubs for your game.  First, determine which club you use to hit a 150 yard shot. Using a 7-iron will earn you a swing speed of between 95 and 104 miles per hour; an 8-iron or 9-iron will give you speeds between 105 and 115 miles per hour.

The next level is to choose a loft you would want to try based on your assessed club head speed. If it’s between 95 and 104 miles per hour, using the 7-iron, then you want to choose a driver loft anywhere between 10 and 12 degrees. If your speed is between 105 and 115 miles per hour, then you could look for a driver between 7 and 9 degrees. If maybe you happen to hit speeds well above 130 miles per hour, then anything between 4 and 7 degrees could be considered.

As a high handicapper, compare your feel of the drivers within the loft range that will fit your club head speed. This should probably happen at a local golf equipment or a pro shop. The objective is to calibrate the estimates with the actual. If the estimates were done right, then there shouldn’t be much of a difference.

What Club Shafts should a Beginner use?

There are two main types of club shafts: stiff flex and regular flex. Whether you are a beginner or a professional golfer, the type of shaft to use depends on your swing speed. The concept of speed involves the rotation around your swing. Whereby, the faster you swing the more your golf shaft will flex or bend. Therefore for higher swing speeds, you would need a stiff flex to counteract the force.

On the contrary, many beginners go for the stiff flex shaft either because of the lack of knowledge on the matter or just because of ego because they don't want to accept they have a slow swing speed.

  • Regular Flex

A regular flex shaft is meant for beginners with a slower swing speed. The flexibility works to the advantage of the player whereby it helps them create more flex in the shaft and generates more club head speed. With a driver swing speed of between 80 and 55 mph, you are best served to use a regular flex shaft golf club.

  • Stiff Flex

A stiff flex shaft is meant for players with faster swing speeds ranging between 90 and 105 mph. There are instances when players can hit speeds above 105 mph and they would require an extra stiff shaft to maximize their performance.

Beginners can alternatively find their estimated swing speed by using a swing speed conversion table or graph.


Distance is a nice thing to get out of a golf club but if your game is hindered, you need to reconsider the clubs, loft degrees and the golf shaft you’re using.  Once you have the proper set of clubs, then you can focus on improving your game.  Learning and practicing the correct fundamentals will go a long way to achieving a better score.  Small changes to your grip, stance, or swing plane can have big effects on ball contact and your overall performance.  Once of our favorite tools to help your tempo, swing plane, and club head speed is the tempo trainer.  Learn what it is in this article.

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