Understanding the various clubs used by golfers is important to anyone being introduced to the sport. Looking at the variety of products in stores and in each golfer's bag can be overwhelming if you don't understand one club from another. By learning about the different clubs and their uses, it helps you understand what clubs to add to your bag.
Although golf clubs vary in appearance, each contains several parts that are the same. The part of the club that you hold is called the handle or grip and is often made of rubber or similar material. Below the grip is the shaft, which is typically steel or graphite. At the end of the shaft is the hosel, the part of the clubhead that transitions from the shaft to the head. The bottom of the clubhead -- the part that touches the ground -- is called the sole and the front is called the clubface. Clubfaces are lofted in various degrees to accommodate different shots. The more loft a club has, the higher the ball will fly, albeit while sacrificing distance.
Golf clubs date back to 1400s, although golf-like games with sticks existed prior to the 15th century. In one of the first recorded mentions of golf clubs, Scotland's King James IV received a set of golf clubs in 1502, even though golf was banned by Parliament during his rule. In early years, golf clubs were made of woods such as pear and apple for the heads and ash for the shafts. Clubheads eventually evolved into forged metal, and steel shafts started to appear about 1890. More technological advances, such as the use of graphite and composite materials, have come in the past four decades.
Modern-day golfers carry a driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and a putter. The driver has the longest shaft and largest head, and is almost always used for tee shots. Fairway woods resemble drivers, but are smaller and have higher degrees of loft, allowing you to elevate the ball off the ground. Hybrids are a relatively recent invention and serve as a combination of a fairway wood and iron. Irons are bladed clubs used for approach shots to the green, while wedges are irons with steep degrees of loft for shorter shots, including chipping and pitching. Putters have flat blades and are used to putt the ball on or near the green.
Golfers may not exceed 14 clubs in their bags, as per the official Rules of Golf. This rule forces golfers to be selective about the clubs they carry. An example of common clubs a golfer might carry is a driver, 3-wood, 5-wood, hybrids to replace the 3-iron and 4-iron, irons from a 5-iron to a 9-iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge and putter.