How Many Clubs Does a Beginner Golfer Need? A Look at Golfs Most Essential Clubs

I will never forget my first golf clubs, they were a half set by a company called “Precision Made”. I was seven years old and very proud to walk around with my 3-wood, 5-iron, 7-iron, 9-iron, wedge and putter. At the age of seven, I definitely didn’t need any more clubs than these, but is there a lesson to be learned there?

In tournament golf you are allowed to carry fourteen clubs but when you are just getting started, this is way too many to carry. Even elite golfers can learn a lot by carrying a half-set from time to time. If you are just taking up golf, this is the perfect article for you to read about what to equip yourself with.

This article is about having the correct equipment and not over complicating your journey into the great game of golf. When you are just getting started, simplicity is key and we recommend a driver with a large sweet spot, a 3 wood, a hybrid and some mid range irons like 5, 7 & 9. Add a pitching wedge, a sand wedge and a putter and you have every essential club you need to take the course by storm.

You’ve made one of the best decisions of your life by taking up golf.  Read on to simplify your entry into golf and get better faster. Let’s turn you into a golfer!

Getting Into Golf – The expenses, the learning curve and what you need to get started

Most people, wrongly, assume that taking up golf costs a fortune. It doesn’t have to and if you’re smart, you can save money whilst making your entry to the sport far simpler. It is, however, a game that will frustrate you, it’s a steep learning curve.

One of the best ways to learn is through group lessons, most driving ranges will offer this. By joining this group you will have friends to learn with and there is definitely strength in numbers. These groups are great value, a few pounds per session, then all you will need is a few clubs like a 7-iron and a wedge.

The clubs you need and what they’re for

Okay, so we know now that you don’t need a full set of clubs when you are just starting out. I am basing the clubs below on an even numbered half-set, odd numbered half-sets are available too, it doesn’t matter which you have. What clubs do you need though and why do you need them?

The driver

This is the club that most people love to stand and hit at the driving range to test how far they can hit a ball, don’t fall into that bad habit. Your driver is the club you will use on many tee shots and the key is to find the fairway. Find a driver that you like the look of, that feels good in your hands and that makes you feel confident. Swing it easy and find the short grass.

Fairway woods

Fairway woods are more versatile and provide you with a club that can be used from the tee or the fairway. Swing this easy and work hard to develop your accuracy with this club. They can help you find fairways when you’re not hitting your driver well or reach greens from a long way away.

Hybrids

These have become one of the most used utility clubs in golf and are definitely the most flexible club you can buy. Hybrids are easier to hit than long irons from the fairway, can be used from the tee instead and can be used for chip and run shots. They are also great for getting you out of the rough and sending the ball far to safety.

Long irons: 3-, 4-, 5-iron

Now we are getting into the more challenging clubs. Long irons are made more for distance than accuracy. They tend to be harder to hit because they are longer, but don’t be disheartened, in time and with practice you will be hitting these nicely. Use these from the fairway or from the tee if you’re playing it safe.

Mid-irons: 6-, 7-, 8-iron

The mid-irons are the clubs that beginners should use for the majority of their full-swing practice. You can also use these club around the green for a chip and run shot too. These are clubs that are fairly easy to hit as they are quite short, you can build confidence in your technique as you learn.

Wedges: Pitching- and sand wedge

These are clubs you should become friends with, they are the most fun to hit. You can chip from around the green, get out of bunkers, pitch from distance and hit full shots you’re your wedges. They are your attacking clubs to help you get close to the flag and make birdies/pars.

The putter

Taylor Made Putter

The most used club in the bag, the putter is a club that you want to get very confident in using. One of the best ways to learn golf is “from the hole outwards”. This means that you can start by getting good at putting, then move to chipping and work your way up to tee shots. You can never practice your putting too much and there are two types of putter to chose from, the mallet and the blade putter.

What is the ideal club set-up for beginners?

You definitely don’t need a full set of clubs when you’re just getting starter. If you want to learn how to play and you want to get out on the course, here’s what you need to get started:

  • A driver or 3-wood: These are your tee shot clubs, at the very beginning I would recommend a 3-wood but you can decide.
  • A hybrid: Something to help you hit it a long way on the fairway and get out of trouble
  • Irons: You don’t need many of these at this stage, a 5-iron, 7-iron and 9-iron will work nicely.
  • A Wedge: With the iron set-up above, you probably only need a sand wedge.
  • A Putter: Your most cherished club and the one that can make you shoot good scores fastest.

I think that at this stage in your golfing journey, simplicity is your friend. You want to reduce the decisions you need to make as to what club you need so the set above is perfect.

How to decide what clubs to hit

Long-range shots: 200 yards +

When you are far away from the flag, accuracy is harder to achieve and the clubs are harder to hit. Hybrids are great for making this shot easier as they are more forgiving or you can use your 5-iron. The trick to this shot is to relax and swing smoothly, don’t try to hit it as hard as you can.

Mid-range shots: around 150 yards

This, to me, is when golf gets exciting. It is at this distance that you can really attack the course. From this range you will hit your 7-iron or maybe even your 9, depending how far you hit it. Aim at a small target in the smallest part of the green to get the best from your skills.

Short-range shots: 100 yards and in

Your 9-iron and sand wedge are going to be your friends here. This is where you have to get creative and start to “feel” your shots. You will learn how to control distance as you play, this is a really fun part of the game to get good at.

Greenside: Around the green

You’re in really close and trying to get it closer. Here you will be calling on your imagination and touch to create shots, this is something you can spend hours practicing. Low running shots with a 7-iron, the chip and run, are great to learn first and then you can build it up.

Should you buy a set or individual clubs?

Top Flight XL Golf Clubs

Golf doesn’t have to be an expensive sport, but it can become pricey quickly. When you are first starting out in beginner lessons you may even be given a club as a loan. It can be worth buying just a couple of clubs at this time to get you started and make sure you want to pursue golf.

Once you know you want to get into the sport you can buy a nice starter set. There are a number of great options out there that are excellent value and give you everything you need to progress your skills.

Best starter sets

The Callaway Strata 12-piece set

Strata Main Image

This is a paired-back set that contains everything you could ever need as a new golfer. In the Strata 12-piece set you get a driver, a fairway wood, a hybrid, irons from 6-9, a pitching wedge, a putter and a bag to keep it all in. This is great quality from a big brand in golf.

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Cobra XL set

Cobra Golf Clubs

Cobra have created an incredible starter set with this one. You get 12 clubs in this set, which is probably more than you need but you can take clubs out and add them in as you get better, this is a set that can grow with your game. Included you get a driver, a three- and five-wood, and four- and five-hybrid, 6-9 irons, a sand wedge, a putter and a bag.

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Wilson Profile SGI complete set

This set by Wilson is really unique on the market as it allows a level of custom fitting. We humans come in all different shapes and sizes and by allowing this customisation, it makes it easier for you to learn. This set comes with a driver, a fairway wood, a hybrid, 6-9 irons a sand wedge, a putter and a bag.

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MacGregor DCT3000 set

Whilst it may not have the catchiest brand name in history, the MacGregor DCT3000 set is a great option for new golfers. This set looks the part and comes from a brand that used to be one the best in the game. With this set you get a driver, a fairway wood, two hybrids, 5-9 irons, a pitching wedge and a sand wedge, a putter and a bag. This is the most comprehensive set and a strong contender on this list.

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Should you get a fitting?

Even as a new golfer, there is a merit in getting your clubs fitted. Whilst you won’t need an extensive fitting session, some changes to the set-up of the club could make things a lot easier for you. Getting things like the length of the clubs and the lie angle can help you a lot.

With fitting usually being free with a purchase, there is absolutely no reason not to get one. Golf is a hard enough sport without making your clubs unnecessarily harder to hit.

Other gadgets and accessories to help you become a good golfer quickly

One of the easiest ways to get better at golf is to become a good putter. You should think about getting a good putting mat for your home so you can practice frequently and hone your skills. Limited distance golf balls, like Birdieballs, are another great way to get extra “homework” in.

Finally, reading about the mental side of golf can help prepare you for the course. Books by Dr Bob Rotella like “Golf is not a Game of Perfect” can help you work on how to think around the course. This will certainly help you get more comfortable with the early stages of playing golf.

Tips for getting better at golf

The most important thing you can do is put time in, golf is a pursuit that demands practice and there are no shortcuts. Also, find good people to play with to make your journey more fun. A supportive group can really help you enjoy learning and push you to get better.

When you’re on the course or the range, I have two simple tips that will help a lot. One, take time to aim at a very small and specific target, this will help focus your mind. Two, you will hit bad shots and that’s absolutely fine, forget it and concentrate on the next one.

Conclusion

If you’ve read to this point then you are clearly keen to get more into golf, this is fantastic. When it comes to buying new clubs, take advice from a club pro to help you choose the right clubs or set for you. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a set that will help take you to the next stage of your golfing journey.

As I’ve said in the article above, getting a club fitting will help you and it is highly recommended. You don’t need to use the full fourteen club allowance at this stage in your development, a half-set is perfect. This allows you to build on your fundamentals and reduces clubbing decisions needed.

Try to practice as often as you can and take lessons where possible. By buying clubs you are committing to golf and you should give your game the attention it needs. Learning about the mental side of golf can be highly beneficial too and most beginners don’t do this at all, it will help you learn faster.

Once you have your new clubs, get out there and enjoy using them. Laugh at the bad shots and forget about them. Celebrate the good shots and remember them. Golf is there to be enjoyed and now you can do this with your shiny new clubs.