golf
buying guide
  • anatomy of a club
  • types of clubs
  • sizing & caring for your clubs

purpose of the buying guide

This guide was created to share essential information about golf clubs so you know what to look for when shopping. Understanding the different types of clubs and their unique characteristics is key to building a set that best serves your needs and skills.

Renting clubs is a good idea for anyone exploring golf for the very first time before committing to the sport. Once you decide to continue growing your golf game, it's important to get your own set of well-fitting cubs to develop your personal swing style and improve your overall skill set.

pro tip: Most of the information in this guide applies to kids' clubs, as well. Check out Essential Golf Gear for Kids eBook for tips and advice on all the gear kids need to enjoy golf and play to the best of their ability.

evolution of the golf club

The earliest golf clubs were hand-carved from wood by players in Scotland in the early 15th century. Eventually, skilled craftsmen began making more specialized gear. Back then, only elites had the time and money to play golf.

After World War II, composite and synthetic materials made the manufacturing of golf clubs easier and less expensive. Today, the sport is loved and played by men, women and children all over the world from private clubs to public courses.

league regulations

The complete list of golf's rules, regulations and approved equipment is extensive and specific. Unless you're a pro, you don't need to know it all to find the right clubs. Most club manufacturers submit samples to the United States Golf Organization (USGA) to ensure their designs meet the sport's specific guidelines.

here a few standard guidelines regarding golf clubs:

  • A golfer may have no more than 14 clubs in their bag at any given time during a game.
  • All clubs must be at least 18 inches in length and, with the exclusion of putters, may not exceed 48 inches in length.
  • Club heads should measure 460 cc or less.

Now that you know the basics, dive in to the details.

anatomy of a club

Although there are multiple types of golf clubs, they all have the same 3 basic components:

the head

At the end of the shaft, the head determines what kind of club it is, along with your ability to control ball height and distance travelled. Loft, density, shape and size of the head will all vary based on the type of club. The clubface is the flat surface of the head that makes contact with the ball. Club loft represents the angle of the clubface relative to its shaft.

the shaft

The shaft is the long, thin, cylindrical part of club. Shafts usually range in length from 35 - 44 inches and are typically made of steel or graphite. Long shafts are better for distance shots, while shorter shafts give you more control.

the grip

The grip helps you hold on to your club while swinging. Grips are typically rubber or leather and come in 3 sizes - standard, midsize and oversize. The size of your hands may influence your choice. Stop in at your local Academy to try out a few different clubs and get a feel for the grip you like most.

types of clubs

woods

Woods were made with wooden heads through the 1980s but are now built from steel or titanium. Their purpose is to hit the ball from the tee and propel it down the fairway. Woods need large heads and long shafts for the power to launch the ball long distances. Drivers, also known as 1-woods, are designed with the largest face and a graphite shaft for the longest shots – like the first shots on Par 4 and 5 holes.

irons

Irons are used for accuracy on short and mid-range shots with the goal of moving the ball from the fairway to the green and closer to the hole. Irons are labeled 2 through 9. As the numbers increase, so do club loft and the height the ball will reach. In contrast, the distance the ball travels decreases as the iron number increases.

pro tip: A hybrid club offers the shape of a wood with the length and loft of an iron. This construction makes it easier to hit the ball while projecting it a similar distance to an iron. Three and 4-irons are the clubs most commonly replaced by hybrids.

wedges

Used for short and specialized shots, wedges are ideal for hitting the ball out of bunkers, sand traps and roughs. Although built similarly to irons, wedges have greater lofts for increased precision and spin. The club face is also shaped to easily bounce the ball off the ground for chip shots.

Wedge variations:

  • Pitching wedge – Lowest loft. Used to pop a ball into the air and send it up to 140 yards distance
  • Gap wedge – Used on shots too close for a pitching wedge but too far for a sand wedge
  • Sand wedge – Used for bunker shots and chips
  • Lob wedge – Greatest loft. Used for high, short shots

putters

Often considered the most important club in your bag, the putter is used to gently roll a ball into the hole. A putter is smaller in size than any other club and features a steel shaft, a flat face, and a loft under 10 degrees to help control bouncing.

You'll find two types of putter head styles:

  • Blade Putter – Smaller, more traditional head. Most common for golfers with accurate putting skills
  • Mallet Putter – Larger, heavier head. Used by all skill levels for stability and straight putts

a full set

A full set of golf clubs includes 14 clubs:

  • 1 driver
  • 1 putter
  • 1 hybrid
  • 2 wedges
  • 2 fairway woods
  • 7 irons

While you're allowed to carry up to 14 clubs, you don't necessarily need that many to start. Take this list into consideration, but experiment with different clubs to find the best combination for your skill level and experience. You can always add to your collection later, or visit your local Academy to take advantage of our golf-club trade in program and upgrade your irons.

sizing & caring for your clubs

fitting your golf clubs

To find the properly fitting clubs, ask someone to help you take a couple measurements. First, have them measure your current height. Then, stand up straight with your arms down by your sides and have your friend measure the distance from your wrist to the ground.

Club manufacturers offer sizing charts that make it easy to find the right size based on your measurements. Locate your measurements to find the correlating club size. Average sizing charts can also be found for men, women, and junior sizes.

pro tip: Be sure to compare manufacturer size charts since their clubs may have a unique fit.

golf club care tips

In order for your golf clubs remain in top shape, regular maintenance is key. Follow these simple tips to preserve your clubs:

  • Keep a hand towel in your golf bag to clean your club heads after games and practice
  • Use the point of a golf tee to clean out dirt and debris stuck in the small grooves of a club face
  • Clean your grips with a gentle soap and warm water periodically or when they feel slick or sticky

next steps

Once you've found your golf clubs, you'll need a few more supplies before hitting the course. Golf bags are a necessity to carry your clubs and supplies. Use our Golf Balls and Accessories Buying Guide for more help choosing your gear.