5 Common Mistakes When Buying Golf ClubsPublished on 03/14/2023 · 7 min readLooking to buy new clubs? Golf Expert Jim Hauser explains the top 5 mistakes to avoid so you can be sure to get the best sticks for your game.
Photo courtesy of TaylorMade
Buying golf clubs can seem daunting, even downright confusing. Which brand do I buy? What clubs should I have in my bag? How do I know they are right for me? Can clubs actually help me with a pull or a slice? Are clubs different for taller or shorter players? These questions are pretty common for anyone about to embark on the often frustrating process of buying or upgrading clubs.
I have been playing golf for 36 years and have been teaching for over 30. I’ve also been building clubs and changing grips for friends and family along the way. As a Golf Expert on Curated, I guide people of all skill levels to the right clubs for them. This has also made me keenly aware of what not to do when buying clubs. As I do with my Curated golf customers, I will guide you on the five biggest mistakes a player can make when buying golf clubs.
1. Not Seeking Expert Guidance
Not seeking expert guidance when buying clubs is the first mistake players often make. Just as we would not diagnose our own medical conditions, it’s best not to go it alone here either. Players may buy a set of clubs because they saw them at the store or in an ad promising to make them a professional in three weeks—but that is not reality. The Curated way of marketing our products, including golf, is to match you with an Expert who will take the time to talk about your game, your current clubs, and your weaknesses, then make suggestions for clubs that could advance your skill level and/or fix a ball flight issue.
Don’t get me wrong, I will never tell a player that a club alone will fix their golf game. I would advise them on some suitable clubs which, along with a few lessons and practice, can accelerate their skill and lower their scores dramatically—which is what we all want. Whether you reach out to a Curated Expert or go see a competent club fitter in your area, it is essential to speak with a professional.
2. Buying the Clubs the Pros Play
The second mistake for many amateur golfers is going out and buying the clubs the pro golfers play with because they want their bag to look exactly like their favorite player's bag. Unless you are a very, very skilled player, these clubs will likely take you backward in your game, not forward.
These clubs may look cool in the bag, but when they cause the highest scores of your life, you will realize what a mistake this can be. The pros, especially in this era of golf, are finely-tuned athletes with a skill level that is almost beyond comprehension for most of us recreational players. They use the right tools for their job. I will encourage you to talk to an Expert or local fitter about finding clubs that will equip your bag with the right tools for your playing level.
3. Not Buying Clubs That Can Help Prevent Slicing
It is estimated that 60-80% of amateur golfers slice the ball, so don’t feel bad if you are one of them. A proper golf swing is not an intuitive motion for the human body. There are a number of reasons why people slice and they are all related to the swing which, for a right-handed player, causes the clubface to point to the right. This is often referred to as an “open” clubface. If you regularly slice the ball, clubs with offset can help tremendously.
The basic definition of “offset”, in a set of irons, for example, is that the shaft is set slightly behind the leading edge of the clubface. Using a club with offset has a number of advantages.
- It helps in placing your hands properly over the ball at address. Your hand should lead the club to the ball which will produce a proper, high-flying shot. Having the hands slightly ahead of the clubface gives you that momentary advantage of squaring the clubface at address to mitigate the slice. Note also that the correct loft for the club you are using is only accurate when the club is square to the target. Turn the club to the left, the loft reduces and you will hit it lower and left. Turn the face to the right and the loft increases, and you will hit it higher, shorter and to the right.
- The offset also gives you that extra moment to square the face at impact so the ball flies straight.
- Offset also increases the angle at which the ball launches into the air. In most circumstances, high ball flight and spin is a good thing, especially with irons, as the ball will stop on the green at, or very close to, where it landed.
- A club with plenty of offset helps work against the slice and gets your hands in the proper position. A typical “open” clubface will often produce a slice.
4. Buying the Wrong Shaft Flex for Your Swing
Another mistake players make when buying clubs is getting shafts that are too stiff or flexible for them. Sometimes this comes from copying what they see their friends play, or following a recommendation from a friend. There are two things that dictate what level of shaft flex a player should use. The first thing, which is a very general rule, is your swing speed. The second, which is less commonly talked about, is the force you apply to the club during your transition from backswing to downswing.
A swing speed chart may indicate that you need to use regular flex shafts, but if you have a forceful transition, you may be well-suited to a stiff shaft. However, the opposite could also be true. Your swing speed may call for a stiff shaft, but if you have a very smooth, rhythmic swing and transition, you may be better suited to a regular shaft flex. As an example, my swing speed on a driver is about 102 mph, which would typically put me in the category for a stiff shaft. However, my transition is fast and puts a lot of force on the shaft, so in many instances, I have used an extra-stiff shaft with my driver.
It has been said the shaft is the “engine” of the golf club, and you want it to transfer all of your swing energy to the ball. If the shaft is too stiff, the shaft cannot flex or “load” properly with the energy you apply to it during the swing. Conversely, if the shaft is too flexible, the load or energy you apply to the shaft can release after impact, losing precious swing energy and producing unpredictable direction to your shot.
5. Buying Clubs That Do Not Fit Your Height
A fifth common mistake is buying a set of standard-length clubs off the shelf. Using the correct club length can have a massive impact on accuracy, posture, and learning to make a reliable, repeatable swing. As with deciding on shaft flex, most club fitters follow guidelines from a chart to determine shaft length. For example, a person who is in the range of 5’7” to 6’0” in height would use a standard-length club. This is generally the 5 iron in the set and is 38 inches long. A person around 5’2” or 5’3” would need shafts one inch shorter than the standard club, while persons 6’4” or 6’5” will need shafts approximately one inch longer.
Shaft length can also affect the lie angle of the club and therefore often needs to be adjusted based on height. A taller player, using shafts one inch longer than the standard, will often hit the ground with the toe of the club first if the lie angle is not adjusted to bring the toe up. Without adjustment, the clubface will be open and the ball will go off-target to the right.
The right side of the video below illustrates what happens to taller players with an extended shaft and no lie angle adjustment. The toe hits the turf first and opens the face on a perfect swing, and the ball will go right. Conversely, the left side shows a shorter player with no lie angle adjustment. The toe is too high and as a result, their shots may go left of their intended target.
These are many of the complications that can result from buying a stock set of clubs. If you’re a player that is wondering why you are not improving, maybe you have made one of these common mistakes. And that’s okay! Remember, even Michael Jordan had a coach throughout his entire career. Let a Curated Golf Expert coach you through the process of selecting clubs that fit you, and get on your way to playing the best golf of your life.