What Do You Need to Buy to Get Started in Golf?Published on 08/23/2023 · 10 min readStarting golf? Learn essential gear for beginners - clubs, bag, balls, shoes, gloves, apparel, accessories, and lessons. Get set for the course!
Photo by New Africa
When I started playing golf 29 years ago, I had a few blades, a wooden driver, and a two-way putter. They weren’t the most forgiving clubs for a beginner. I would’ve simplified my journey if I had a detailed list of what I needed to buy to get started in golf. In this post, I ensure you don’t repeat my mistakes as a beginner.
The golf clubs and balls I’ve included are practical solutions for less skilled golfers seeking maximum forgiveness from tee to green. I’ll also introduce you to a selection of shirts, pants, shoes, and gloves to enhance comfort on the golf course.
What Do You Need to Start Playing Golf?
Before you start working on your swing, you need to acquire golf clubs, a bag, balls, shoes, a glove, polo shirts, tees, and a towel. Keep reading to learn what equipment offers the best value for money, consistency, and comfort.
The USGA permits golfers to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in their bag. However, I find beginners can comfortably navigate the links with fewer than 12 clubs. A complete golf set is an ideal starting point for high handicappers because it includes all the clubs they’ll need and a bag, and sets are more budget-friendly than selecting individual clubs.
I recently suggested the Callaway Strata Set to my brother-in-law because he wanted an entry-level set with basic clubs and a bag. It features a driver, 3-wood, 5-hybrid, followed by a 6, 7, 8, and 9-iron. The pitching wedge is the only chipping club, and the putter is a standard blade.
My brother-in-law finds that the Strata has everything he needs. However, I feel it’d be better to include a sand wedge, like in the Cobra Fly-XL Complete Set. The Fly-XL is priced higher than the Strata set but includes three additional clubs and a spacious cart bag.
Readers with deep pockets might consider the premium option of the TaylorMade RBZ Speedlite for the high launch, forgiveness, and distance.
Beginner golf sets typically include a cart or stand bag to hold your clubs. A lightweight stand bag suits players who walk the course. The Callaway Strata set contains a prime example of an easy-to-carry stand bag. They often include dual-padded straps to protect your shoulders as you walk but lack storage space compared to carts or staff bags.
Stand bags generally have a 4 or 5-way top structure, which helps you separate your woods, irons, wedges, and putter. As the name suggests, a golf cart bag is designed to fit on your push trolley or riding cart. These bags are heavier, hold more cargo, and feature a single strap like the TaylorMade RBZ Speedlite.
Beginner golfers should stick to the highly compressible, two-piece distance golf balls, which are easier to launch. Your ball striking is still a work in progress, and you need a ball that accelerates off the clubface and ascends into the skies, despite inconsistent contact.
In my experience, more moderate swing speed beginner golfers tend to enjoy greater consistency with a softer construction like the Callaway Supersoft. It rebounds quickly off the clubface, increasing speed and lowering spin for a powerful strike.
Golf shoes are divided into two predominant categories: spikeless and spiked footwear. I find spikeless designs incredibly comfortable on the soles of my feet, and I can finish 18 holes without any cramps. However, the traction lugs on spikeless shoes aren’t as efficient in the wet, and I slip during heavy downpours.
Spiked shoes provide maximum traction in all conditions to enhance my leg drive and power during my swing. Spiked golf shoes are often heavier than their spikeless counterparts, and they can wear my feet down after hours on the golf course, but it’s worth it for the grip and traction.
Besides traction, breathable, moisture-wicking, and water-resistant material impacts your comfort. If you play in warm conditions, you will want golf shoes like the Puma Fusion Grip with breathable fabric to prevent sweat build-up. Conversely, rounds in a wet environment demand a waterproof finish, as found on the Puma Ignite Articulate.
Most golfers use a glove on their weaker hands to enhance traction and reduce blisters on the palm. Right-handed golfers wear a glove on their left hand, while lefties do the opposite. Players may turn to two gloves in wet conditions, as specialized rain gloves keep the club in your hand for greater control during the swing.
Golf gloves are crafted with premium Cabretta or synthetic leather, with the former feeling the best and costing the most. The Mizuno Tourglove comprises Cabretta leather, and it feels phenomenal. However, it's almost double the price of the synthetic TaylorMade Stratus glove.
The TaylorMade performs optimally in all conditions and is breathable, comfortable, and a pleasure to wear. Since most gloves enjoy similar life spans, I’d prefer to save my pennies and acquire the Stratus glove, leaving me more capital to spend on balls and green fees.
There is no one size fits all for golf gloves, and the right fit is paramount to the longevity of your glove. Manufacturers craft gloves in a small to XXL for all hands. Plus, the sizes are further divided into regular and cadet sizes. A cadet size suits golfers with shorter fingers and a wider palm than a standard glove.
Golf courses enforce various local rules pertaining to their dress code. However, most golf courses require a polo shirt, pants or shorts, and socks. You can use your existing chino pants to play at the start, but it’s always better to look the part from day one.
Start with a moisture-wicking, breathable, quick-drying polo shirt to boost your comfort on the links. The Under Armour Tech polo is a suitable entry-level polo, available in neutral colors that pair with any pants.
The Columbia Omni-Wick shorts are a neutral option for golf in the summer. They masterfully wick sweat and enhance airflow to keep my skin cool and dry on a warm day. Those who prefer the tradition of long pants will welcome the water-resistant, four-way stretch and durable fabric on the Under Armour Drive 5-Pocket pants.
Accessories include tees, ball markers, head covers, towels, and umbrellas. Tees are only employed on the tee box to help you drive the ball on the upswing for a high and powerful launch.
You need approximately a 2-3/4” tee for your driver to position the ball marginally above the crown at address. Conversely, a shorter tee is required for iron shots, as you don’t need to hit it on the up. A 2-1/8” tee works well for iron and hybrid strikes. The Ram Golf Wooden Bamboo tee pack incorporates both sizes to cover you on all tee shots.
A towel is vital to clean your clubfaces between shots to remove mud and grim from the surface. In my experience, a dirty clubface hampers contact, reducing energy transfer, ball speed, and distance. The Mizuno Microfiber golf towel is a durable and absorbent microfiber towel that cleans grooves and golf balls efficiently.
I suggest carrying an umbrella from day one to maximize UV, wind, and rain protection in all conditions. I prefer double canopy umbrellas for their wind resistance, durability, and water resistance. The Ram FX Tour Premium suits beginners for its attractive price, and there are two units included in the package.
Once you’ve kitted yourself out with clubs, a bag, balls, shoes, gloves, and apparel, it’s time for lessons. I recommend taking five to 10 sessions with a PGA instructor to learn the fundamentals of the game before you take on the challenge of a golf course.
A couple of sessions with a teaching pro helps you avoid developing bad habits, setting you up for the best chance of success. PGA coaches help you understand the correct swing mechanics and on-course strategy and give insight into your average distances with each club.
Where to Start Playing Golf?
I don’t recommend playing a regulation golf course until you’ve hit a few balls. There are multiple off-course options to consider before taking on an 18-hole course. Start with a driving range and par 3 golf courses to get your eye in.
Before you take to the course, I suggest multiple trips to the driving range to get a feel for your clubs. It’s also the ideal environment to optimize your posture, alignment, and swing mechanics. Employ the lessons from your golf instructor and get used to the sensation of swinging a club, rotating your hips, and turning your shoulders.
Although driving range balls aren’t the best quality, you’ll also gain insight into your distances with each club. I recommend splitting your time between long, mid, and short game practice to sharpen your skills from tee to green.
The final benefit of the driving range is its cost-effective nature compared to green fees on a standard course.
Topgolf is a driving range with a twist. It’s a less intimidating environment for beginner golfers with no dress code, music, and beverages flowing. A host of games are available at each venue, allowing you to take on your buddies for the title of the most accurate hitter.
Topgolf has categorized games by difficulty level, ensuring an enjoyable rather than frustrating experience. As you improve, try more difficult challenges for intermediate or advanced golfers.
Par 3 Courses
Par 3 golf courses are another affordable alternative to regulation courses. They are the perfect way to sharpen your putting stroke, short iron, and wedge play. It also reduces the risk of losing golf balls and cutting into your budget.
The shorter clubs in your bag are easier to control and swing when you start. A par 3 course helped me boost my confidence and develop a consistent swing tempo. I became so confident and comfortable with my wedge swing that I started following the advice of John Daly and swinging every club as I did with my high lofts.
Regulation Golf Courses
Once you’ve developed a feel for striking a golf ball on the range and par 3 courses, it’s time for the real deal. Load your bag with balls, tees, and accessories and take on an 18-hole golf course. Golf courses are categorized as municipal or private clubs, with the former being the most affordable approach.
Municipal golf courses also welcome everyone without the stigma of being a beginner. You can focus on your swing and learn the game for a fraction of the cost of a round at a private country club.
Find the Right Golf Gear for You
Asking what you need to buy to get started in golf seems like a never-ending list. My guide simplifies the search and optimizes your value for money. Your biggest start-up expense is golf clubs. The Callaway Strata set mitigates the damage with its budget-friendly price tag and saves you from acquiring a golf bag.
Remember to stick to entry-level two-piece distance golf balls, like the Callaway Supersoft. These balls are affordable, easier to launch, forgiving, and suited to beginners' more moderate swing speeds. Dress the part, ensure your shoes generate traction, and wear a glove to prevent blisters before checking in for lessons with a PGA instructor.
If you need help picking out the right gear to start, feel free to chat with a Curated Golf Expert to help you get ready to play!