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In the Bag

Equipment Recommendations

Let’s start at a place that is usually overlooked for beginners. While there is no lack of advice on purchasing starter clubs you have to search for information about what makes a starter club versus what the pro’s use. The importance of your initial club set cannot be overstated. It will literally determine your initial impression of the game (and your initial level of frustration).

Here are some tips on equipment recommendations for juniors just starting out in golf:

Unless you purchase or are gifted with a true “starter set” it is important to understand there are 2 basic types of clubs (with an amazing number of variations).

If you have (or somehow acquire) irons that are classified as “blades” I highly recommend you put them in a closet. You won’t need them anytime soon.

The purpose of a starter set is to provide a larger impact surface (bigger club head), more forgiveness (a much larger sweet spot allowing for ball impact in a larger area of the club head, lessening the effect of a “bad” swing or poor angle of impact with the golf ball), more loft (the launch angle) and a standard shaft length (commonly graphite construction in newer clubs though you can still find steel shaft sets).

Sets are comprised of a driver, one or more fairway woods, one or more hybrid clubs, multiple irons, one or more wedges and a putter.

What you really need as a beginner: driver; 3 wood; 5 hybrid; 7 iron; 9 iron; pitching wedge and a putter. Most starter sets come with a golf bag as well, perfectly serviceable for a beginner and will accommodate you for months, or perhaps years, to come.

Once you learn to hit the ball, and actually get out on the course, the usage of the various clubs dictate where you should spend most of your practice time (initially anyway). Roughly 30-40% of your golf strokes will be putts, 20-25% chip shots, 25-30% fairway shots and about 10% drives.

Now, this all assumes you are having reasonable success in hitting the ball right. If, however, your play is inconsistent in the fairway, you may be spending more of your time with irons, hybrids or wedges in the rough or fairway. 30-40% of your time will be putting.

The driver (also known as the 1 wood) is the long- shot club. Once you train past all of the kinks the average driver range is around 230 yards for men, 200 yards for women.

Now this is important! If you are not hitting that distance nothing may be wrong. There are a number of components to actually consistently hitting those distances. First, starter club sets have drivers designed to lift the ball higher with more forgiveness for the off-center hits, this comes at a sacrifice to the distance. This is pretty much true of all of the clubs (excepting putter) in a starter set. These clubs are designed to allow for rookie inaccuracy while you learn to play.

Second, unless you hit the gym regularly, play regular ball or racket sports, you will probably need to work on your upper body strength to increase the effectiveness of your swing.

Third, the importance of hand position on the club is critical. Now, all that being said, after 2 months I am consistently hitting my driver around 175 yards with some degree of accuracy.

Truth of the matter, I find that when I put maximum power into my swing I usually slice (veer to the right) or hook (veer to the left). My logic right now is to focus on the accuracy and slowly rachet up the swing until I can hold my accuracy with power. Frankly I prefer hitting 175 yards into the fairway rather than 200 yards into the trees.

Now for the nuts and bolts. If I start putting you to sleep move on to the fairway woods, you really don’t need to know this right now, and like I tell my grandkids, once posted online material never goes away, you can always come back to this.

Drivers are generally made with a loft angle of 7 to 12 degrees. The lower the loft angle the harder it is to control the club with accuracy (generally PGA pros are using drivers with 7 to 10 degree lofts, starter sets run between 10 to 12 degree lofts). Recommended starter drivers have a large head (450-460 cc) with a 10-11 degree loft and a graphite shaft (discussed below).

Most starter drivers are not adjustable beyond the ability to change the grips and/or the shafts. Once your quality of play calls for it, or you feel you are ready, the new step- up drivers are adjustable in many respects. Adjustable weights and adjustable hosels (the socket of the golf club head where the shaft fits) are standard fare for almost all club manufacturers. Add in the ability to change the shaft type, stiffness and length and you can personalize a driver that’s specific to your swing. Wasted effort for a beginner but I can see the importance once you’ve outgrown the starter set.

There are some who disagree on the prior point, it is their belief that getting fitted out gear will help you advance in the game more quickly. The problem, they note, is that golf is not like any other sport, you can’t just buy a baseball glove, ball and bat and compete at any level of the game. In golf expertise is a work in progress and the tools you use (clubs mainly) will greatly determine your effectiveness on the course.

While I don’t necessarily disagree I do believe that the difference for a beginner is like buying a Harley when you don’t know how to ride a bicycle. Some things you want to work up to. Is a starter set ideal for everyone, decidedly not.

Remember what I said earlier, they are designed to accommodate the “average” height/build individuals. If I were six and a half feet tall, instead of five and a half, I might be disappointed with a starter set. There are “work-arounds” but few are as economical as the beginner sets.

Club sizing: Club sizing is important for juniors as it can affect their swing, posture, and overall performance on the course. Look for junior-sized clubs that are designed for their height, weight, and strength. The club should fit comfortably in their hand and allow them to make a full swing.

  1. Driver: A driver is the club used to hit the ball off the tee. For juniors, it’s important to get a driver with a low center of gravity, which will make it easier for them to hit the ball straight. Additionally, a driver with a large sweet spot will also help to reduce the impact of any off-center hits.

  2. Irons: Irons are used for a variety of shots on the course, including fairway shots, approach shots, and chips. For juniors, it’s important to get a set of irons that are easy to hit and control. Look for irons with a wide sole, which will make it easier for them to make contact with the ball.

  3. Putter: A putter is used to hit the ball on the green. Look for a putter that is comfortable to hold and has a soft feel. A good putter can make a big difference in the number of strokes a junior takes on the course.

  4. Golf ball: Golf balls come in different levels of compression and can affect the distance, trajectory, and control of a shot. For juniors, it’s best to start with a golf ball that has a low compression and is easier to control.

  5. Golf bag: A golf bag is essential for carrying all the clubs and other equipment needed on the course. Look for a lightweight bag that is easy to carry and has enough pockets to store extra gear.

In conclusion, having the right equipment can make a big difference in the enjoyment and success of a junior golfer. By considering the recommendations above, juniors can get the right equipment to help them develop their skills and love for the game of golf. #golf #golfclubs #juniorgolfers #tournaments #golfballs #golfequipment #golfbags #beginnergolfer

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