How to Buy Golf Clubs as a Gift
Thinking of buying golf clubs for that special golfer in your life? It's a little trickier than you might think. Here's what you'll need to know.
Okay, so you have decided to get the golfer in your life new clubs and perhaps need a few tips on where to look, what they might need, or how to make sure they are the right ones. The golf equipment world is at your fingertips with every golf swing nuance imaginable available and ready to ship to your doorstep in the blink of a decision. But making sure your gift lights up their golf game means doing a little bit of research and possibly gleaning what information you can slyly sneak from their golf bag or golf round rants.
Working with golfers at Curated is essentially like shopping for golf clubs every day, except of course they are not for me. Understanding who I’m assisting, as with any golf fitting, means asking the pertinent questions about the golfer and their game so that I can sift through the countless products, brands, specifications and style, to find the best match. Every golfer has a different experience, body type, golf swing, and approach to the game. With millions of golfers playing over 16,000 golf courses in the country with varying levels of ability, time, and interest, there’s no simple answer to finding the right piece of equipment. From basic to complex, “off the shelf” to launch monitor data at a range, the level of customization for golf clubs is almost endless and totally dependent on the player.
To get you started, I’ve pulled together the answers you’ll need, from basic to complex, beginning with the real fundamentals: What is their intention in the game? What are the golf clubs intended to do?
Understanding the player in your life is the easy part. Beyond the simplistic facts of gender, height, dominant hand, and age, it’s helpful to know whether they play any other sports, how active they are, how often they play, and how long they have been golfing. These pieces of information can start to paint a broader picture of how they see the game and themselves in it.
Here are some other questions to ask yourself about the golfer in your life.
- Do they practice?
- What competes for their golf time?
- All good clues to their level of intent and subsequent ability.
- Do they have a handicap in golf that allows them to adjust their scores for competition, what is it, and if not, how they normally score?
- Did they play in high school or college?
- Do they play in leagues now or just for fun?
Knowing a few key pieces of information about where they play can also help determine the better club option for their golf rounds. Do they play private golf clubs, public courses or nice resort courses? How manicured or taken care of are the courses they play?
Answers to these questions help get an idea of the turf conditions they usually encounter during a day out on the course. Do they play in hot, dry weather or where it rains quite a bit or can be cold? Golf course conditions, whether dry and hardpacked from constant use, or soft from a good water source, play a significant part in how golfers play the game and what equipment they need. Other factors such as wind, tall trees they cannot hit over, or if they get any rollout with the golf ball on the fairways can affect their ball flight preferences and club choices. Hopefully, you know—or can find out—the answers to a lot of these questions.
Delving into more of the specifics of their golf game to find the right equipment is going to take a bit more work. Again, the level of ability and the golfer’s intent in the game determines many parts of the equation for equipment.
But it can be tricky to get the specific data you might want. Not every golfer can impact a lie board consistently to get a reading on their iron lie angle needs or swing the same way multiple times in a row at a launch monitor in front of a club-fitter or golf professional. Often these high-priced, top-level fittings are a mere snapshot of their swings after a long day at work, with a shortened, cold swing, and under pressure. As a club-fitter for the Navy, seeing hundreds of good players, the evidence of these inconsistencies is imprinted in my perspective.
The Basics What is their goal with their new iron set? Hit it straight as much as possible, achieve longer distances, or shape the golf ball's flight to bend into the greens? Typically, it’s a combination of these desires. Better players tend to want clubs that accentuate their strengths, while other players are trying to limit their mistakes. Club models use different technologies to help poor impact, be longer with more moderate swing speeds, or compress the golf ball off the turf to maximize back-spin.
Are looks important to them? Some players prefer a classic-looking iron with no artificial colors, while others prefer a techy look. Often brands hide the technology “under the hood” to achieve better results within those classic looks.
How about feel? Better players usually prefer forged irons made from one flowing grain of the metal, while others would improve their games with a cast club built with multiple metals that also enable weight to be moved behind the face of the irons for added power.
Answering these fundamental questions about irons enable the right iron model to be picked. Adding the specifics to them is the next step.
Shafts The golf shaft is responsible for transferring the player’s golf swing power to the clubhead. Made of either steel or graphite, this critical piece of any golf club is important in both accuracy control and distance. Understanding how the golfer in your life swings, how fast they swing overall, how aggressive they are swinging down at the ball, what their misses are like, and how much distance they get gives a solid understanding of what shaft basics they will need.
Steel shafts are heavier, less flexible, but more predictable for better and faster swinging players. Graphite works the other way to increase distance while being lighter and more flexible, and if swung too fast or hard, can cause issues controlling the direction of the ball. Knowing how fast or aggressive they swing is indicative of the shaft they will need.
Other Info Unless built custom, irons are designed for players of average height. For men, this is from 5’7” to roughly 6’ and ladies from 5’5” to 5’10”. Shaft length and how the club’s head sits on the ground at the address or the lie angle of the club are made for these heights. For players outside this spectrum, these specifics may need to be adjusted for greater control over impacting the golf ball and maintaining proper posture and a good golf swing.
Also, as hand sizes are different for everyone, having a grip sized for your golfer’s hand will help them keep a solid grip on the club.
Lastly, if players have difficulty with longer irons—the 4, 5, and 6-irons—hybrid clubs can help with distance and accuracy, so understanding how they play these tougher longer shots allows for a better assessment of their set composition needs.
Playing good golf means having a good short game and wedges make great golf gifts.
- How many wedges do they have in their bag?
- Do they talk about their greenside shots a lot?
- What is the highest lofted club in their bag that is not being replaced? The 9-iron or a different wedge?
- Are their other wedges graphite shafted?
- Are their wedges always dirty on the face and bottom of the club?
The answers to these questions will help you uncover if they play multiple shots around the greens, dig deep into the turf when they swing, play in wet conditions, and how many wedges they like to play. These basic insights will give a great starting point to building them a valuable wedge set.
Putting well can make any player shoot better scores so having a quality putter is important. After all, at least 36 strokes a round come using a putter. What the golfer in your life is playing now is typically a good indicator of what they prefer to use.
Focusing on the style of putter, whether a larger mallet size or smaller blade, is a good place to start. Also consider the length—33-inch putters for players under 5’7” and 35-inch putters for players above 6’ is a good starting point to finding the right putter for their game.
How they take the putter back, whether in a straight back-and-through motion or with some arc in the stroke, can also help determine the type of putter needed and how the face is balanced to promote either stroke type.
To get even more specific, knowing if they have issues with alignment or where their misses are, and if they have trouble with short putts or long can also help us advise you on the right putter. Weighing costs over performance is the final criteria for choosing the best putter for their game.
Woods and Hybrids
Hybrids and woods are both used from longer distances either off the tee box, as a second shot from the fairway, or into the greens. They follow the lower irons, filling any gaps from that club to the 3 wood, usually a staple club in most players’ bags. Hybrids come in lofts from 17 to 28 degrees of loft and typically are needed in lofts of 19, 21, and 25 to replace a 3, 4, or 5-iron. As some players have difficulty hitting longer irons like these, hybrids have been devised to cover this need and get more launch and distance from these shots.
Knowing if the golfer in your life is needing these clubs to go straight, prevent side spin, or promote shaping ball flights is a paramount concern for finding the right hybrid to fill their need. Similarly, fairway woods, which are typically lofted from 14 degrees to 18 degrees, are also built differently depending on what the golfer needs them to do.
As with the irons, the shafts play a big role in the performance of these clubs, so finding out what shafts are in their bag or how they swing the club is important to determining the right shaft.
Buying a driver as a gift can be an extraordinary present. Its impact on the golf game can be significant, and despite all the calls for working more diligently on shorter shots near the green, players can’t get enough of the driver. Being long off the tee and in the center of the fairway makes the game much easier, and hitting these shots well and watching the ball fly is definitely one of the most fun things to do.
In basic terms, drivers are made to either help accentuate a player’s strengths or reduce the results of their weaknesses. Players with consistent swings will want a model that allows them to move shots around trees or land softly, whereas other golfers may just be interested in being deep and straight, while taking advantage of the rollout.
In addition, different lofts of drivers create different trajectories, and the best driver loft can be determined based on your golfer’s swing, setup, swing speed, and preferences of ball flight. As with any club, the shaft’s flex, weight, length, and bend point will all influence the properties of the driver and should be given considerable thought.
Working with a Curated Expert
You got all that, right? No worries if you didn’t. Hopefully, some of this information is useful to you to understand what to look for in your golfer’s clubs, perhaps what to ask her or him, or what to look for when doing more research. Make it simpler and chat with one of our golf experts here at Curated. We are all immersed in the game and culture of golf and can take equipment specifics from the basic to the extreme depending on what the golfer’s needs are.