by Frank J. Peter
For the last hundred years or so golf was/is played with basically the same set of clubs. The standard set includes 3 woods (1, 3, and 5 wood), 10 irons (2 to 9 iron, PW, SW), and a putter. Does this configuration work for everyone? Hell, no! It's time to take a fresh look at what a golf club set can and should do for your game. Instead of selecting clubs based on "that's how we've been doing things around here (for the past 100 years)", why not select clubs based on what YOUR golf game requires. This article gives you the background on what to select to improve your game, no matter if you're a Beginner, Intermediate or an Advanced Player.
Enjoying the game of golf requires many kinds of skills. Sometimes a shot requires distance and sometimes accuracy. Some shots we hit from a tee, some we play from short grass and sometimes even from oh-so-dreaded places like rough, sand and dry dirt (hardpan). Each of such situations will benefits from a different club you use. Based on our abilities, some shots will be relatively easy and some will be a pain in the you-know-what.
Case in point: If the challenge is a 200 yard carry over water to a rather tight pin on a small green, the proper choice of club for a beginner, intermediate or advanced golfer will be different. The beginner will need all the help and forgiveness possible ("... I swear, if I make this shot I'll be a good person for the rest of my life..."). The intermediate may need a little less forgiveness but still wants to be comfortable with their club. The advanced player may want more subtle characteristics of feel and clubhead response that a beginner can't even imagine (... and still pledge to become a better person if the shot works out). In the past all three were left with only a few club choices, but - thankfully - today there are many more.
Which Clubs are most important?
As mentioned, golf requires several kinds of shots - drives, long approach shots, short approach shots, pitches, chips, sand shots, putts and a variety of (what family friendly sites like ours!) call trouble shots - they are called differently during play, though!
By far the most frequent shot is a putt. For an average golfer, the putter is used more than twice as much as any other club. Statistically, if a golfer shoots a score of 100, 35% - 40% of those strokes will be putts. So, quite obviously, the putter is the most important club you carry.
Generally, for most golfers the driver (also called the #1 wood) is used the next most often, about 14 times from the tee, or roughly 12-20% of the time depending on ability level and course requirements. A good drive makes the rest of the shots on that hole easier. A lousy drive means, well, you know what... That makes the driver a very important club.
For players who have a hard time hitting the green in a regulation number of strokes, the wedges may be the second most used category of clubs. Even on a good day a beginner may spend a 15 to 20 strokes chipping up to the green.
The remaining challenges in a round will utilize the rest of the clubs in your set. It is likely that no one club will be used more than a few times. This means, in terms of club usage, the putter, driver and wedges are clearly used the most frequently while the rest of the clubs will bring up the rear.
In addition, a club that is tough to hit must be given added weight. The more difficult it is to hit a particular club the more likely it is to cause disaster. The driver, the long irons, and fairway woods are the most likely culprits to cause that terrible shot. One way is to bring lots of balls, for a better way: read on...
To take some guess work out of your game, let's take a closer look at how a set for a beginner, intermediate and an advanced golfer may be configured:
Click here for our recommendation for Beginner Golfers
Click here for our recommendation for Intermediate Golfers
Click here for our recommendation for Advanced Golfers