Technology in golf clubs is a continuing story, and there are some basics you should be aware of when deciding whether to replace the clubs in your bag. In general, beginners should look to clubs with a higher loft and more flexible shaft, and low-handicap golfers can handle the low lofts and a stiffer shaft. Hybrids, which combine features of both the iron and the fairway wood, have been the clubs of choice for golfers who want to replace hard-to-hit long irons.
Irons and Wedges
The traditional set of irons goes from the 3-iron through to a pitching wedge. In addition, most players carry a sand wedge and a gap wedge. For those who want a short club to get the ball over a bunker close to the green, a lob wedge is useful.
Irons should be purchased as a matched set for consistency, so you can judge which club to use for the distance you desire. Offset clubs for the longer irons are helpful for high-handicap golfers because they are easier to hit. Irons with a low center of gravity are also recommended for the high-handicapper.
Advanced players can use the less forgiving blade or “muscleback” irons with a higher center of gravity. Lofts can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer for irons. Keep in mind that the higher the loft, the easier the club is to hit.
Many golfers have been replacing their long irons (3 through 5) with hybrids, sometimes called utility clubs. Some even use them in place of fairway woods.
The lowest number hybrid in your bag should get 10 or 15 yards less than the highest number fairway wood. Hybrids are used by all golfers from high-handicappers to pros. These clubs are easier to hit while providing the player with both distance and accuracy.
Hybrids have a flat face like an iron, and weight is distributed throughout the club and not concentrated toward the front like some woods. They have a wide sole like a fairway wood but feature a shorter club length like an iron.
Players who struggle with making a complete shoulder turn on the takeaway and have a lower swing speed find that hybrids allow them to launch the ball with less effort than a long iron or fairway wood.
Some “command hybrids” feature adjustable weights to allow the golfer to play a draw, fade or straight ball. To avoid a gap in distance coverage, make sure that your lowest number hybrid gets 10 to 15 yards less than the highest number fairway wood in your bag.
A driver should be selected with your golfing abilities in mind. Players with a high handicap will benefit from a large club head. These clubs will have a bigger sweet spot and, therefore, will be forgiving of the miss hits typical of a beginner.
Because a higher loft helps you get the ball up, the angle of the loft for higher handicaps is approximately 10.5 to 12 degrees. The shaft should be flexible to provide greater distance to golfers with a low swing speed.
More experienced players can use a driver with a lower loft angle of 9 or 9.5 degrees along with a stiff or extra-stiff shaft to produce greater accuracy.