by Frank J. Peter
As a Beginner you probably have a hard time making consistent contact with the ball. Hitting it with the heel and toe of the club, topping the ball or hitting the ground first (fat shots) will be your challenge. [Note: as you may have realized, I use 'challenge' (which is a 'positive word') rather than 'problem' (which is a 'negative word') - maybe you want to adopt that in your thinking.] As beginner you may also have trouble getting the clubhead to the ball in a square position. This means your clubhead generally approaches the ball from outside of the target line (out-to-in) and at a steep angle. This results in your typical shot shape being a slice - a shot that curves right. [Another note: proper clubs will help a lot, and for additional insights on how to cure a slice you may want to consult David Nevogt's eBook on The Perfect Golf Swing.]
In short, you have a problem hitting the ball with the center of the clubface. Your swing speed is slow due to lack of experience with proper swing mechanics. Generally, for women and juniors, clubhead speed is slow due to lack of strength, causing difficulty in getting the ball up in the air, and a lack of distance.
The ideal set for a beginner would be one that takes into account the swing/hit issues mentioned above. Maximum forgiveness is the goal.
To help with inconsistent contact an oversized clubhead will help. An oversized club has a larger hitting area so there will be fewer mishits. For irons, perimeter weighting will help to make those mishits go a little straighter. You're shots off the heel and toe will be more solid. A wide sole will slide through the turf easier and get the ball up higher. Slightly shorter clubs will make accurate club-to-ball contact a higher possibility.
To help with that out-to-in swing path, an offset clubhead will get the clubface back to the ball a little later. That means the clubface will be more square to the target and not open. This will also keep the hands a little bit in front of the clubhead, which in turn will also help with those fat shots. A clubhead with adjustable weights can help to adapt the club to your particular swing pattern.
For long shots from the fairway or rough a beginner should choose woods and hybrid clubs with the most loft possible, together with a low center of gravity. More loft means it will be easier to get the ball in the air, and it will likely go a little farther as well. In addition it will create more backspin which will counteract the side spin of shots and keep them from curving as much. As a combined result your shots will be a little bit straighter.
A beginner's driver should have a larger head (over 430cc) to increase the size of the hitting area. Additional loft (12-15 degrees) will get the ball in the air. Added loft once again will increase backspin and make those left to right curves less of a head ache.
Putting is something that, with practice, will get better (although sometimes hard to believe). It's true, it doesn't take great athletic ability to be a decent putter. Yet again, it's still hard for a beginner to judge distances so 3 putts are still common. Besides keeping your head directly over the ball a good alignment system will also help getting over your inconsistency.
Super Game Improvement (SGI) irons are the choice for maximum forgiveness. SGI clubs will offer maximum perimeter weighting, larger offset, a wide sole, and low center of gravity. Club choices can be 6 iron through pitching wedge or 6-sand wedge. The sand wedge selection should offer extra "bounce". Bounce is the feature on the sole of the club that helps it easily glide through sand or rough.
While you are allowed to carry 14 clubs you actually don't need them. The first clubs to leave out are the long irons (3, 4). Your iron set should start with the 5 or 6 iron and go up to the sand wedge (SW). For longer shots use lofted woods (5, 7, 9) and hybrid clubs (3, 4, 5). You may find you still hit them all about the same distance, so if you can experiment, test them all to see which ones feel the best. Don't take the ones that you don't hit well and leave them at home. You should still buy them because you will get better and need them later.
The right set also depends on swing speed. Swing speeds between 65-80 mph (women, juniors and some seniors) will need more woods and hybrid clubs and generally more loft to help get the ball up in the air. Average male swing speeds of 80-90 mph can begin to add a few more irons (5-6), but you still want to use hybrids and lofted woods instead of long irons. Woods are always easier to hit for beginners. Their larger heads and flat soles compared to irons create more confidence. Slightly shortened versions of 3, 5, and 7 woods (-.5") are highly recommended for all beginners regardless of swing speed.
The driver should have a 440-460 cc titanium head. The new large headed drivers are easier to hit, no second thoughts about it. Make sure you have extra loft to increase accuracy and distance. If you find you still have problems hitting it accurately, try choking up an inch or so.
For a putter, you want one of the new large headed mallet putters. These new putters have greater MOI (they don't twist on mishits) and their alignment aids make short putts much easier.
Your set configuration should be: Woods (1, 3), Hybrids (3, 4, 5), Irons (Super Game Improvement) (6-SW), Putter (Mallet)
(click the names for details & be a bit patient for the pages to load):
Recommended Set 1 Recommended Set 2