How to Buy Beginner Golf Clubs
Golf can be a lot of fun, especially when you have the right clubs. Golf expert Michael Pryor overviews everything you need to know to find the perfect beginner set.
You may be totally new to the game of golf, or perhaps you’ve been playing for a while with some used or borrowed clubs, and now you’re ready to commit to getting your own set of golf clubs. Having your own complete set will make it easier for you to get out to play and practice— and you may find yourself doing both a little more often once you have your own set.
Budget - How Much Should I Spend on Golf Clubs as a Beginner?
As you set out to purchase your new set of golf clubs, in addition to having a dollar amount in mind in terms of how much you want to spend, you need to also consider how much you will play once you have your new clubs. Are you looking to play once or twice a month for work events when you need to, or are you looking to play on a regular basis, possibly take lessons, and practice to become a more accomplished golfer?
If you are looking to play recreationally or from time to time and you just want to have your own set of golf clubs, then your budget will likely be less than if you are looking to become a regular player.
You can find complete beginner sets of golf clubs starting at $300 up to roughly $1,000. These complete sets typically include a driver, a fairway wood, a hybrid club (or two), a set of irons (4- or 5-iron through pitching wedge), a putter, and a golf bag. If you feel you will play on a regular basis, you may want to build a custom set of clubs that can range anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500, depending on the brand and model of clubs that you are interested in.
Tips to Consider When Starting to Search For Your First Set of Golf Clubs
- If you are a beginner and new to the game, you don’t necessarily need to buy the most expensive set available.
- Be honest with yourself in terms of how much you think you will play. You don’t want to invest in a set of clubs that may end up spending most of their time in the garage.
- There are some good “used golf club” options that may be perfect for you as a beginner golfer. If they look to be in good shape, they could be a great fit for you as your golf game develops.
- Set a budget in terms of how much you’d like to invest in your new set of golf clubs.
- Once you have set your budget, begin to research options and seek out professional advice from an expert. Share your budget and your goals with them and they will be able to help you find the perfect beginner set of golf clubs.
- There are many complete set options that will likely fit within your budget. When you buy clubs individually, it can start to get expensive (again, keep your total cost in mind)
How Do I Know if This New Set Is A Fit For Me?
Golf can be a hard game to play, and it takes time and practice for beginners to become more consistent when playing the game. With this in mind, you will want to find clubs that are more forgiving and allow you to still produce a decent shot, even when you don’t hit the ball on the “sweet spot.” Many of the beginner sets are designed with this inconsistency in mind and are more forgiving.
Drivers, Fairway Woods & Hybrids
The drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids are oversized and easier to hit than, say, that old set you’ve been borrowing. Simply having newer clubs that are designed for beginners can help you to play better golf.
The irons in beginner sets are typically perimeter weighted. Perimeter-weighted clubs will have the majority of the weight around the perimeter of the club which creates a larger “sweet spot” so beginner players can
Pitching Wedge, Sand Wedge & Lob Wedge
Beginner players may find it difficult to hit greens when they are new to the game. They can, at times, end up in the rough surrounding the green, short of the green in the fairway, or in a green-side bunker. To improve your chances when chipping, pitching, and hitting bunker shots, you will want to find wedges that make it easy to make solid contact with the ball and not dig in the turf or sand. When buying wedges, it can be helpful for them to have more bounce (angle between the ground and the sole of the club at address) and a wider sole. This will help to keep the club from digging when you hit short shots around the greens.
When buying a beginner set, a putter is usually included. If you have the option, you should try and find a putter that has a “mallet”-style head with more lines on the putter to help you line up your putts.
How Many Clubs Are in a Full Set
The rules of golf allow for up to fourteen golf clubs in a set but beginner sets often vary in terms of the composition of the set. As a beginner golfer, you may not find that you need all fourteen clubs. Some beginner sets may not include a sand wedge, while others may include it. Some beginner sets may include a driver and one fairway wood, while others may include a driver and two fairway woods. Some beginner sets may have irons including a 3-iron to a pitching wedge (8 clubs), others may be a 4-iron to a pitching wedge and then include a hybrid club. The set makeup can vary among manufacturers.
Do You Need A Complete Set?
For beginner golfers, a complete set is not necessarily needed. The basic or minimal requirements would be:
- Driver: You’ll want a driver to tee off on the longer par-4 holes and par-5 holes.
- Fairway Wood: You will want at least one fairway wood in your set for longer shots. A 3-wood or 4-wood would be ideal.
- Irons: You don’t necessarily need a complete set. A couple of options are the odd number irons (3-iron, 5-iron, 7-iron, 9-iron) or the even number irons (4-iron, 6-iron, 8-iron, pitching wedge). This type of set makeup may be available in some beginner sets as well as in some used sets (though a club or two might be missing).
- Wedges: You will want at least one wedge in the bag for shorter shots around the greens as well as bunker shots. If you only have one wedge, you will want a wedge with 54-56 degrees of loft.
If you are new to the game and you walk during your rounds, it may be easier to get around with fewer clubs in the bag. As you become more experienced with the game, you can add more clubs, but as a beginner, it is important to have a set that allows you to get out to practice and play more golf.
Types of Clubs in a Beginner Set
- Driver: Beginner sets usually include a driver. This club has the least loft and is measured as the longest club in the bag. The lower loft and longer club shaft will allow you to hit the driver the furthest out of all the clubs. The driver is used on the tee, typically on par-4 and par-5 holes.
- Fairway Woods: Beginner sets can vary in terms of the number of fairway woods included and some may only have one (usually a 3-wood or 4-wood). The clubs are used from long distances and can be played from the tee or the fairway.
- Hybrids: More beginner sets are starting to include hybrid clubs to replace the longer irons, as they are easier to hit. If you recall, as a new golfer, forgiveness is something to be considered when purchasing a new set of clubs. The hybrids are included in place of the longer irons (3-iron and 4-iron) since they’re not as difficult to hit. If there is a 4-hybrid included in your set, the irons will likely be a 5-iron to a pitching wedge.
- Irons: The number of irons will most likely vary for different sets. Typically, you will find at least a 6-iron, 7-iron, 8-iron, 9-iron, and pitching wedge. If this is the case with the set you are interested in, it will likely include a hybrid or two in place of the longer 3-iron, 4-iron, and 5-iron. The key when selecting irons is to make sure that they are perimeter-weighted irons to provide more forgiveness as you are learning to play the game.
- Wedges: Most beginner sets include one wedge, but others may include two wedges—a pitching wedge and a sand wedge.
- Putters: All beginner sets include a putter. Ideally, you will want one that has lines on the top of the putter to help you more easily align your putts.
Types of Golf Shafts
Usually, in beginner sets, there isn’t much selection in terms of golf shafts. Typically the driver, fairway woods, and hybrids will have graphite shafts while the irons and wedges will have steel shafts. Below is a brief description of steel shafts and graphite shafts and the advantages and disadvantages of the two.
Steel shafts are typically heavier than graphite and don’t have the torque to the degree that you’ll find in graphite shafts. Steel shafts are primarily found in irons as they tend to benefit the player in terms of accuracy.
Benefits of Steel Shafts
- Steel shafts can be more responsive to experienced players, allowing them to gain better feedback on their golf shots.
- Steel-shafted clubs are heavier than graphite-shafted clubs. Players with higher swing speeds may appreciate a heavier club that complements their swing tempo, providing more control.
- Steel shafts are typically not as expensive as graphite clubs.
Disadvantages of Steel Shafts
- While more experienced players may appreciate feedback from each shot, those who can be more inconsistent in terms of impact may not appreciate the vibrations created from mishits with steel-shafted golf clubs.
- Players that don’t have a “faster” swing speed may find that they are not able to generate the same clubhead speed with steel shafts as they are with graphite shafts.
- For players with hand, elbow, or shoulder issues, the vibrations created with steel-shafted clubs may be irritating.
Graphite shafts are typically lighter than steel, allowing the player to swing the club faster than a steel-shafted club. Typically there is going to be more flex (and torque) in a graphite shaft—so it is important to find a graphite shaft that fits your golf game, as graphite is oftentimes more expensive than steel.
Benefits of Graphite Shafts
- Graphite shafts are lighter than steel shafts. This can be helpful for players with slower swing speeds.
- With graphite shafts, the vibrations created when hitting a golf ball are dampened more than with steel. This can be helpful for golfers with upper-body injuries.
Disadvantages of Graphite Shafts
- Graphite shafts do not have the rigidity that steel shafts have, meaning they can have more whip and flexibility. Such flexibility can help players with slower swing speeds to swing the club faster and hit the ball further.
- Graphite shafts are typically more expensive than steel shafts.
Most golfers would enjoy the benefits of a graphite shaft in their irons, and today most drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids come with graphite shafts. They are a lighter material and can flex more to help golfers get more distance. Players with average or slower swing speeds can take advantage of these factors when selecting graphite shafts. Graphite shafts are ideal for beginners, seniors, and female golfers.
While steel shafts provide the player with more control, they are heavier. A golfer with above-average swing speeds may opt for steel shafts in their irons so that they can have better control and get better feedback from their golf shots.
New Or Used Golf Clubs - Which Should You Buy?
When looking for a set of golf clubs, you don’t necessarily need a brand new set. Many retail shops and golf specialty stores will give customers credit when they trade in their current set of golf clubs. This could lead to you being able to find a nice set of golf clubs that meet your golf goals and your budget.
If the club(s) are in good condition and fit your swing, then there is nothing wrong with buying a used set of clubs. When considering a used set you will want to be aware of a few things: 1. Grips: Are the grips in good condition or are they worn out or beginning to wear? Do they feel a little tacky when you grab them? Are they dried out or cracking? Are there tears in the grip, or is the base of the grip cracked? These aren’t necessarily deal-breakers if the shafts and the club heads are in good shape. You can easily have the grips replaced with something that you prefer—making them feel as if they are brand new. 2. Shafts: Especially in graphite-shafted clubs, you will want to ensure that there are no signs of wear or cracks in the shafts. Even the slightest of cracks can lead to the shaft breaking (possibly after just a few swings). If the shaft is showing signs of wear, you’ll have to decide if you can get it re-shafted or you should probably look at another club. The store or specialty shop may have other shafts that they can easily replace. 3. Club Head: You’ll want to inspect the grooves of the clubs, especially the lower irons and wedges (8-iron, 9-iron, pitching wedge, sand wedge). If you see wear on the grooves or if the face of the club has signs of wear, you may want to look at a different set.
There can be some great used clubs that meet your golf goals and needs and, more importantly, your budget. Even for clubs that show wear, for the right price they could be a great deal. Remember your connection to the club through the grip—if the clubs are in great shape except for the grips, they can easily be replaced to give you that new-club feel.
Cavity Back (Perimeter-Weighted) vs. Blades
It’s important to know the difference between cavity back (or perimeter-weighted) irons and blade. If you’ve been borrowing an older set of irons, you very well may be using blades. When looking at used clubs you will likely want to buy a set of cavity back irons over a set of blades.
The irons are designed with perimeter weighting, producing a “cavity back” that is more forgiving on mishit golf shots. This design makes it easier for players to hit overall. Creating a cavity in the back of an iron head removes weight from behind the center of the clubface, meaning more of the clubhead's mass is around the perimeter, or edges, of the clubhead.
Blades have a more traditional design with a very small “sweet spot.” These clubs are typically preferred by more accomplished players who are more consistent in their ball striking. If you are a beginner, I would strongly advise against buying blade irons
Should I Get a Custom-Fitted Set of Golf Clubs?
Custom-fitting for a beginner is something that you’ll need to consider. If you are new to the game and still developing your golf swing, you will simply want a set that has the basic qualities that allow you to get out there and play golf.
There are a couple of metrics that can help you find a beginner set that fits your needs without a fitting. Keep in mind that as your swing develops you may need different clubs. To get started as a beginner, you’ll just need to understand a few basics to find a set that allows you to get out there, play, and have fun:
When you are 150 yards from the hole or your target, what club would you choose under normal conditions?
- 8-iron or 9-iron: you may want to consider an extra-stiff shaft
- 6-iron or 7-iron: you may want to consider a stiff shaft
- 5-iron or 6-iron: you may want to consider a regular shaft
- 4-iron: you may want to consider an “Amateur” or “Senior” flex shaft
- 3-iron or wood: you may want to consider a ladies’ shaft
Your height is a consideration too, as you’ll want clubs to fit you. To find the right length for you, you’ll want to measure the distance from the crease in your wrist to the floor. Depending on your height and the measurement of your wrist, you may need to have your new set of clubs shortened or lengthened. A standard length set may work for someone ranging from 5’6” to 6’4”, depending on the wrist to floor measurement.
For a beginner set of golf clubs, custom-fitting, while ideal, may not be needed for your first set. If you understand a few basic measurements, you can get a set that meets your needs, fits your budget, and gets you out on the course playing.
As you begin to play more, take lessons, and develop a more consistent swing, it would be the ideal time to get a set of clubs that are fitted to your swing. Especially if you go from hitting a 6-iron 150 yards to hitting an 8-iron 150 yards, which can happen as you begin to play more often, receive training, and continually improve. Chat with a Golf expert here on Curated for free advice on what club would best fit your swing.
Custom Fitting for a Beginner Golf Club Set - What to Expect
Should you decide to go through a custom fitting for your beginner golf clubs, you can expect the fitting to last anywhere from one hour to three and half hours depending on how in-depth of a fitting you go through. You can segment your fitting based on the clubs you’d like to be fitted for, to include:
- Driver Fitting
- Iron Fitting
- Fairway Woods & Hybrids Fitting
- Wedge Fitting
- Putter Fitting
- Comprehensive Fitting (all of the above)
The prices can range from $75 to $300+ depending on what you are looking to have done. These fees are in addition to the cost of the clubs. If you are new to the game, your swing may not be consistent enough at this point to warrant going through a club fitting since your swing can change over time. If you know some basic measurements or if you’re taking lessons, your golf professional can give you a pretty good idea of what you’ll need in terms of your new beginner golf clubs.
As you develop your golf game, when you grow out of your beginner set, you can then decide if you’d like to invest in a comprehensive club fitting. Having the proper shaft flex, weight, profile, and length coupled with the right swing weight, lie, loft, and grip can help you stay consistent and continue to improve.
Women’s Beginner Golf Club Sets
Beginning women golfers should only purchase a set of ladies’ clubs. The ladies’ clubs are designed with women in mind, in that they are typically shorter so they fit women better and they are also lighter, making them easier to swing and generate more clubhead speed due to the lighter weight of these “lady specific” golf clubs.
5 Recommended Complete Golf Sets For Beginner Golfers
The Tour Edge Bazooka 470 Black Set is designed for beginner to intermediate players wanting great performance for a reasonable price. The package includes a driver, 3 & 5 wood, 4 & 5 hybrid, 6-SW irons, putter, and bag.
- The improved shape and weighting of the clubs allows for more forgiveness and easy height on shots.
- Thinner faces throughout the bag provide for higher ball speeds, which lead to greater distance.
- The use of titanium on the driver allows for a stronger face and lighter weight to increase swing speed and distance.
Why this is a great beginner set
A solid option for the new player, this set comes fully equipped with the right clubs and technology to cover the shots faced out on the golf course.
- 460cc driver head lofted at 10.5 degrees provides higher ball flights from the tee for longer carry.
- 4-hybrid & 5-hybrid and 3 & 5 fairway woods are designed to create optimal ball speeds and assist in getting launch from longer distances.
- Perimeter-weighted (cavity back) and wider head designs allow for a larger hitting area for more forgiveness out of the 6 to 9-irons.
- The two-wedge system of pitch and sand gives loft and trajectory control to get closer to the pin from various lies around the greens.
- The face-balanced mallet putter allows for more control over speed and direction.
- Quality stand bag with headcovers for the woods and hybrids.
This package set from Tour Edge provides beginner players a great set to get started with tons of performance qualities but at a reasonable price. The package includes a driver, 3 wood, 5-hybrid, 6-SW, putter, and stand bag.
- The oversized head on the driver is 460cc with high MOI (Moment of Inertia or, in other words, resistance to twisting) to increase height and forgiveness on off-center strikes.
- Heel-weighted irons are stainless steel with more weight located in the heel to help players close the face and reduce a slice.
- The lightweight dual strap stand bag comes with a 6-way top, backpack straps, and four zippered pockets for all the storage you need.
Why this is a great beginner set
This sets suits beginner golfers, players getting back to the game, or weekend warriors who need a solid complete set to get out and challenge their buddies with. Reputable club maker Tour Edge has been improving these sets for decades, culminating in:
- 460cc 10.5 lofted drivers for long carry
- 3-wood & 4-hybrid for longer shots on the course
- 5-iron - sand wedge, allowing the flexibility to reach the green from various distances
- “Heel/Toe” balanced putter to help make more putts and lower your score
The F-MAX Airspeed is Cobra’s lightest and most forgiving family of clubs geared for the players just starting their golf career. This package includes a driver, 3 & 5 wood, 4 & 5 hybrid, 6-PW, SW, putter, and premium cart bag.
- Driver and fairway woods have PWR ridges alignment aids to provide easy setup and aim.
- Extra offset throughout the bag assists players who struggle with a slice square the face and hit straighter shots.
- The progressive hosel lengths mean that the irons provide longer hosels in the short irons and shorter hosels in the long irons to move the CG (center of gravity) location around to provide optimal performance for every type of shot.
Why this is a great beginner set
Golfers looking for the utmost quality, power, and advanced cavity-backed iron technology in a complete package set.
- The driver is offset for greater control of slice spin at 10.5/11.5 degrees of loft depending on the regular or lite version.
- 3,5 woods, 4,5 hybrids, 6-Pitching wedge, and sand wedge are properly spaced in lofts to cover needed distances in a 12 club set.
- Cavity-backed irons with larger hitting areas will have you targeting any pin.
- Two wedges give you loft options for varying trajectories from any sand or grass lie.
- 34-inch blade putter will fit right below your eye to roll the ball down the preferred line.
Callaway’s Strata Ultimate Set provides everything a golfer needs right away to enjoy the game with 11 clubs, including a driver, 3 wood, 4&5 hybrids, 6-SW irons, putter, and bag.
- The oversized 460cc titanium driver has a large sweet spot for bombs off the tee.
- Aerodynamic 3 wood facilitates launch and distance off the fairway.
- Confidence-inspiring hybrids are a great alternative to long irons for easier launch and control.
- Stainless steel irons provide forgiveness and stability.
- Milled putter offers greater accuracy and distance control.
- Lightweight stand bag includes ample storage and dual straps for carrying with comfort.
Why this is a great beginner set
Callaway, a very reputable brand, makes their complete sets under this Strata brand name. This set will for sure be a great way to kick start your golf adventure. These clubs will feel good and help you get going! Callaway Strata sets are reliable and always are highly reviewed. Callaway puts some thoughtful care and attention into the making of these.
A great set for the new or recreational golfer who still wants a quality set to learn with and enjoy the game at a really affordable price. Tour Edge offers a well-built 7-club set that gets you the right short game and approach tools to begin to understand the importance of working from the green back to the tee.
- A highly-forgiving mallet putter gives you improved putter control to two-putt every hole.
- Properly-spaced wedges at 55 degrees in the sand wedge, and 50 degrees in the pitching wedge, get you on the green to make those putts.
- Moving back to the fairway an oversized, forgiving 8 iron targets the pin from distance, while a 6 hybrid and 3 wood will have you sweeping long, tough shots into the air with ease.
- A higher lofted, 15 degree, 460cc driver provides you with a shape and design that helps gear the ball towards the fairway.
- A quality stand bag gives you the option to walk.
Why this is a great beginner set
In this ladies’ set, each club is powered by 55-gram light graphite shafts, building clubhead speed and maximizing your overall distance. Custom length options are available in this set to ensure they are the perfect fit for your game.
Different Brands of Golf Clubs
While there are many brands of golf clubs available on the market, if you have an understanding of the different clubs, the various make-ups of the sets, and the different shafts available, you can then look at which brand you prefer and what best fits your budget. There are many different brands to consider, and it is best to work with an expert who is familiar with the various brands to find the perfect set for you. Some brands to consider are:
- Tour Edge: a newer brand that has really established itself as a top-of-the-line golf equipment company. Tour Edge offers several options for beginners, with multiple set make-ups and price points. Tour Edge also offers a lifetime warranty on their golf clubs.
- Callaway: one of the top golf club manufacturers, Callaway offers their Strata set designed for the beginner golfer at a price point that makes it easy to get out onto the golf course.
- Cobra: another top golf club manufacturer, Cobra’s beginner golf club set will be a little more expensive than the Tour Edge and Callaway’s Strata brands, however, their complete beginner set offers more technology built into their clubs providing beginner players with a set that performs.
Each of these equipment manufacturers supplies a wide variety of gear, so as you continue to improve, you will find that, should you want to upgrade your clubs in the future, they offer many equipment options intended to enhance your performance. For beginner golfers, these sets provide you with entry point golf clubs that get you out on the course having fun!
Golf is a great game but can be a little intimidating for new golfers. In order to find the best set for you, as a new or beginner golfer, it can be very helpful to work with an expert who is familiar with the various golf club options, and understands what you need to get started playing, with a set that you’ll enjoy—all within your budget. Taking a few minutes to share your goals with an expert who understands how to identify the best options for you can be well worth your time. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have and help you find the perfect set of clubs!