Tips on How to Buy Golf Clubs as a GiftPublished on 06/16/2023 · 12 min readThinking 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 or a new set of clubs and perhaps need a few tips on where to look, what they might need, or how to make sure they are the right clubs. The golf equipment world is at your fingertips with every golf swing nuance imaginable covered, club available, and online golf retailers ready to ship them to your doorstep at the moment of your decision. Well, maybe not that fast. 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 more about who I’m assisting, as with any golf fitting, means asking pertinent questions about the golfer and their game so that I can sift through the countless products, brands from Callaway and Cobra to Mizuno and Titleist, and levels of forgiveness 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 using launch monitor data and spin rates 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 or set of 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 as well as the level of custom clubs needed at this point in their golf journey.
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 do 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 golf courses, or well-kept 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? Do the sand bunkers have soft sand, heavy sand, or little sand? 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 the best equipment. Do they need a beginner golf club or a complete set in one package, are they an intermediate player and taking golf lessons to improve, maybe aspiring to achieve the clubhead speed of Tiger Woods? Often basing the right game improvement iron or characteristics of the clubs on ability over intent is the start to better golf and balancing the two competing concepts is the ultimate goal.
But it can be tricky to get the specific data you (or even they) might want. Not every golfer can impact the ball on the sweet spot every time and swing consistently on a launch monitor in front of a club fitter or PGA 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 and at private golf courses, 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 many times as possible, achieve longer distances, develop higher launch angles to stop the ball on the greens, 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 types of irons that accentuate their strengths, while more novice players are trying to limit their mistakes. Club models use different technologies, design elements, and shaping to help poor impact, create longer distances with more moderate swing speeds, compress the golf ball off the turf to maximize back spin, or allow players to create the shot shape they prefer. Cavity back irons, for example, set weight at the heel and the toe or create perimeter weight to achieve a higher MOI (Moment of inertia) or stability from mishits off the center of the face, giving the player more forgiveness at impact.
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 club head. 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 faster-swinging players. A graphite shaft works the other way to increase slower club head speeds and add distance while being lighter and more flexible, and if swung too fast or hard, can cause issues controlling the direction of the ball flight. Knowing how fast or aggressive the player you know swings are indicative of the shaft and shaft flex 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.
Most sets can include a pitching wedge and gap wedge though that only gives players two wedge lofts to use to create a multitude of needed shots around the greens to get the golf ball to stop close to the pin and not skip off the putting surface. From an instructional and playing perspective, it is much easier to grab the best-lofted wedge for the shot, than create and effectively perform a different golf swing for each location and shot to the pin they encounter. Having a sand wedge with 10-14 degrees of bounce on the sole to get out of bunkers and even a lob wedge for high floating shots to stop quickly on the putting surface in the wedge set is critical to building and successfully implementing a reliable short game or scoring game around the greens.
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 the 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 is significant, and despite all the calls and consensus on lowering scores faster working more diligently on shorter shots near the green, players can’t get enough fun out of blasting 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 the way we all want it to, upwards of 300 yards, is exhilarating.
Experienced golfers with consistent swings will want a model that allows them to move shots around trees or land softly for pinpoint accuracy, whereas other golfers may just be interested in being deep and straight while taking advantage of as much rollout as they can get.
In addition, different lofts of drivers create different trajectories, and the best driver starting loft can be determined based on your golfer’s swing, setup, swing speed, and preferences of ball flight. With hosel adjustability or the ability to change the loft of the driver with a tool at home does make choosing the right starting loft less critical. As with any club, the driver shaft’s flex, shaft weight, length, and bend point will all influence the properties of the driver and should be given some thought or discussion to accentuate the desired ball flight and of course ability of the player.
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 new golf clubs, perhaps what to ask her or him, or what to look for when doing more research. Make it simpler and chat with me or one of my fellow Golf Experts here on Curated. We are all immersed in the game and culture of golf, the top brands making the best golf irons, new gear, and golf products at the best prices, and can take equipment specifics from the basic to the extreme depending on what the golfer’s needs are. We also offer the option of a Curated gift card which can be used towards making a golf equipment purchase with free Expert help finding the right gear for your golfer's game.