Shopping for golf equipment doesn’t have to be painful.
How does a beginning golfer balance those competing interests of aesthetics and performance with the uncertainty of what to buy and how many? We talked to experts who have worked with women and their equipment needs at all levels. Here are some key points:
- Your needs are unique. “A woman with an athletic background is probably stronger and might find a full men’s set in regular flex a better fit,” says Jim McCleery, founder of McGolf Custom Clubs. “A woman who hasn’t been involved in a stick-and-ball sport or professes little athletic ability might find a short set of women’s clubs more suitable to her needs.”
- The relatively low cost of a pre-packaged boxed set gets you in the game, and the weights and lengths might be ideal. That said, depending on your height, strength and athletic ability, a boxed set designed for senior men might be an even better option to start.
- Ignore the 14-club rule. “A beginning female golfer should focus on contact and launch,” says Ryan Johnson, master fitter at Carl’s Golfland. “It’s common to see a beginner come in with hand-me-down men’s clubs, long irons or a strong-lofted 3-wood. With the slower swing speeds, getting the ball some height is not achievable with those clubs. I’ve had success fitting 7-woods, 9-woods and even 11-woods.” Johnson’s colleague Brad Coffield said the number of clubs is a problem with those boxed sets. “The player gets way too many clubs, and there are little to no customisation options,” he says. “Whenever I get a beginning female player to come in for a fitting, she rarely needs to buy more than six or seven clubs.” The six clubs you need starting out are a club to hit off the tee (driver with at least 13 degrees of loft), a club to advance the ball from long distance (a 7 or 9-wood), a club to advance the ball from middle distances (a 7 or 8-iron), a club for short distances (a pitching wedge) and a club for shots around the greens and bunkers (a game-improvement sand wedge) and a putter.
- If you’ve never played golf, don’t get fitted. Buy a used women’s 5-wood, sand wedge and a putter online and take some lessons. If you like it enough to want new clubs, go see a clubfitter.
- “Stay open-minded,” says Olivia Pizii, a PGA professional at Carl’s Golfland. “Do the research, read reviews and talk to the club experts. Often a basic fitting and trying out clubs can tell you a lot about what works for you.”
“Today’s equipment is incredible. I love that young kids can learn to just smash the ball at a young age then refine things the more they play. I was taught that you couldn’t swing it at a 100 percent because you wouldn’t make solid contact every time and the ball could go anywhere. For me, to have changed things up with today’s technology, it would’ve been completely revamping everything I knew about the golf swing.”— Editor’s Note