Part A - All About How to Get Started in Golf (continued)
What are all those clubs for, anyway? According to the rules
of golf a player is allowed to carry fourteen clubs. Amusingly, it is very common for all
the clubs to appear to go the same distance when one is first developing a golf swing. The
clubs are made to go different distances using the same swing, so that when you find yourself
positioned at different distances relative to your target you have an appropriate tool for
the job at hand without having to manufacture a new swing for each shot.
Rules of Thumb
The higher the number on the club the more loft the club
has and the shorter its shaft (length). A shorter club
with more loft will travel a shorter distance than a longer club with less loft. Clear? Here's
another way to think about it: Long clubs with low numbers hit "line
drives" and short clubs with high numbers hit "pop flies." Better? The
irons are available in numbers 1 through 9, plus an amazing
assortment of wedges (pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob
wedge, third wedge, utility wedge, the list goes on ... and the variety of wedges and
sand wedges that can be found in terms of shape and
size ... it's a subject unto itself). The most common set
of irons would be 3 through PW (pitching wedge -- it's like a number 10 iron). The 1 and 2
iron are commonly left out of commercially available sets of irons due to the extreme level
of skill required to get good results from them (most people have difficulty using them
effectively). Irons 1 through 4 are called the
long irons. Irons 5 through 7 are called the
middle irons. Irons 8 through the wedges are called the
The woods are numbered in the same way -- the higher the
number the more loft the wood has and the shorter the length of the club. The number 1 wood
is called "The Driver." It is the only wood that is
called a driver, though many beginners make the mistake of calling all the
woods, or even all the clubs, drivers. It is unlikely that a beginner, and in fact most
intermediate players, should ever use a driver. Though golf club
manufacturers and marketers wouldn't agree with this assertion (because drivers are high-ticket
items for them), most golfers would realize better and more consistent performance
(and greater average distance!) with a shorter club (3 wood or
perhaps even higher). A typical set of woods consists of numbers 1, 3 and 5.
That leaves the putter. Putters come in such a wide
variety of shapes and sizes that it may be the most diplomatic thing for me to say, "A putter
is a very personal thing. Find one you like and then try not to hurt it." Believe me; you
want your putter to be your friend. Putters are such a matter of taste that Arnold Palmer
practically uses a different one every day, whereas, say, Mark
Blakemore has been using the same putter for the last 15 years.
(Notice how I managed to include my name with Mr. Palmer, "The King".) Come to think of it,
based on the fact that he's The King and I'm Mark Blakemore, maybe you should use a different
putter every day.
Now, let's see, if you have 3-PW (that's 8 irons) and 3 woods (although remember that Mark has recommended against
the driver) and a putter that totals 12 (remember, according to the rules of golf a player is allowed to carry
fourteen clubs). What about the other two? Well, that's up to you. You can choose which clubs you
want to carry in your bag. And by the way, there isn't a
rule that says you have to carry fourteen clubs. You can play with
one if you want to (most people don't). Personally I
recommend that beginners start with a "Starter's Set," which consists of just the odd or
just the even numbered irons (3, 5, 7, 9, SW or 4, 6, 8, PW, LW), a 3 wood and a putter.
Until you reach a much higher level of skill you won't notice the difference between one
club and its immediate neighbor anyway. Why spend the money and/or carry the weight?
Note: When you eventually want your own equipment it will be a good idea to be fitted
by a reputable professional with club fitting expertise.