WHAT CLUBS TO BUY: navigating the golf retail minefield

Ever been into a golf superstore or read the latest news on what’s hot in the golfing world only to be confused by it all. So many promises of extra distance, spin, or switch weight and shafts to change fades to draws and vice versa.

This is bad enough for your seasoned golfer who understands at least some of the jargon but if you are a beginner you just don’t know whether you should spend 15,000 baht or 100,000 baht ($500-$3,500), what are you actually getting for your money and what are the differences.

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So today I will look at buying the start up sets versus the big names.

If you are just starting out in golf and want to buy your first clubs, you face a big dilemma. To start with can I get what seems like a deal to good to be true i.e. everything I need for just 15 or 20,000 baht or should I go for broke and buy each of the components separately. At first glance the latter might seem the better option, with irons at just 25,000 baht but when you put it all together and get the clubs you actually need your total will look more like 80,000 baht: irons, wedges, driver, fairway woods, hybrids, putter, bag, other accessories.

You get what you pay for: No doubt these clubs are of better overall quality and if by some chance you actually got an expert who advised you to buy all the correct specifications and custom fitted you, then you have a better quality club and a better chance of improving at a faster rate. However even supposing these clubs are perfect for you (see my blog or webpage on custom fitting) the difference it will make is not great overall. More over as your technique develops and changes these clubs will quickly not be the correct fit or specification for you.

The start up sets, what to look for: The start up market has grown and there are now industry renowned manufacturers supplying to this market, Slazenger, Dunlop, Wilson, Lynx to name just a few. These same manufacturers were all once market leaders but decided in a flooded and seriously competitive market to develop other products. They ride off the R & D of the larger firms and produce affordable quality products. It is the perfect place to get your first set of clubs, you get everything in one hit, then as your swing develops you can add the more expensive pieces bit by bit, you would replace them in a similar time scale anyway (or if you don’t you should be!)

But what about custom fit: Yes I am a advocate of custom fitting golf clubs for all levels of players but at this cost difference I just can’t fully justify it.

But there is another option: Get a qualified expert to take some static measurements (height, wrist to floor etc.) and these clubs can be modified, within reason, to at least be closer to what your require. Length can be added or reduced quite easily (which also alters the lie angle). Grip size can be changed along with weight and balance changes. I wouldn’t recommend trying to make any bending adjustments to the loft or lie with these clubs, one of the reasons these clubs are a little more affordable is that the heads will be of a hard cast steel and therefore likely to break when bent. Top quality clubs will either be a higher grade cast steel or forged metal meaning they have some give for bending.

The second hand market: This is another option but again once you put all of the different pieces together, including a bag, you will still be someway over the cost of the start up set and there is little to no chance of finding clubs in this category that match your requirements and specifications. Also the age, if they are more than 4-5 years old the chances are the new start up set will be easier to use anyway.

My full advice is always look to buy clubs from a qualified expert. You may pay a little more going to your PGA Professional or someone else qualified but you know you are getting sound advice this way and it is money well spent. Getting totally the wrong clubs at the beginning could be the difference between success and giving up all together.

For more on my services when buying golf clubs visit my buying clubs page

About the author

I am a professional golfer and a Class AA member of the PGA GB & I. I inspire and improve golfers of all levels, currently at Thana City Golf Club, Bangkok and have been in Thailand for seven years. I am passionate about golf and want to bring the game to life making it fun for all including creating dreams for elite performers

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