Just taking up golf? Here are the best golf clubs and sets for beginners new to the game

Just taking up golf? Here are the best golf clubs and sets for beginners new to the game

Lots of people are deciding to take up golf right now. If you're one of those people -- or you're a former golf coming back to the game -- welcome! We're happy to have you. Golf is a game you can play for the rest of your life and, critically right now, it's a way to spend several hours outside getting great exercise and spending time with people.

However, if you're a beginner golfer, you may not have golf clubs, or a bag, or a lot of the things you need to actually play golf. You might be wondering what the best golf clubs are for beginners. We're here to help!

When I started playing golf almost 25 years ago, my parents (I was 12) bought me my first set from a used sporting goods store. They bought me a set of clubs for adults that had every other iron in it (3-, 5-, 7- and 9-iron). A year or two later, I got a full set of Wilson irons.

Since I took up the game, manufacturers realized they could connect with beginner golfers by offering them boxed sets, giving them all 14 clubs they need, as well a golf bag, to get them started. The hope with these sets is to build some brand loyalty with beginner golfers, who will hopefully eventually improve to the point that they'll need more advanced, more expensive equipment that can be custom fit to them.

But that's for another time. Right now, as a beginner golfer, you'll need a basic set of clubs as you learn the fundamentals of the swing and begin to take what you've learned from the driving range to the golf course.

With products from great golf manufacturers like Calllaway Golf, Tour Edge Golf, TaylorMade Golf, Wilson Golf and others, there's no reason a beginner golfer can't have a full set of golf clubs and a bag for under $500.

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We turned our expert, Ryan Ballengee, to learn more about the best golf clubs for beginners and why you should get a starter set.

1. What should a beginner golfer look for in a boxed set?

Most boxed sets come with all the clubs the manufacturer thinks a beginner golf will need to get started playing golf. That means a driver, a fairway wood or two, some hybrids, some irons, maybe a sand wedge and a putter. The boxed set will also come with a golf bag -- typically a stand bag, which is the most versatile bag for a beginner who may want to walk the course or ride in a cart when they play.

2. Are there beginner golf sets for women and kids?

There are three types of beginner sets:

  • General beginner sets -- These are typically marketed to adult men, but these sets can be for anyone based on their height and swing speed.
  • Beginner sets for women -- Golf companies make beginner sets geared specifically to women who may need shorter clubs, more flex to improve their swing speed and more loft to launch the golf ball the proper height. However, women may not universally fit well into such a set.
  • Beginner sets for kids -- Golf companies make cheap beginner sets for kids with hopes of getting them into the game at a reasonable price point. These sets typically have fewer clubs at lengths built for kids.

3. How much do beginner golf clubs cost?

Beginner golf clubs and boxed sets come in a variety of price points. If you're buying clubs for a beginner junior golfer, a starter set is closer to $150 or $200. If you're an adult, you may spend anywhere from $250 to $550 on a boxed set that will get you started.

4. What types of golf clubs will come in a beginner set?

Typically, a beginner golf club set will come with five different types of clubs:

  • Driver -- A driver is the longest club in the bag, meaning it is the tallest and measures longest from the end of the grip to the bottom of the head. You'll use this club to start (tee off) on most holes, and it will go the farthest when struck right. It has a titanium face (a strong metal) and a steel body, often with some carbon fiber on it.
  • Fairway woods -- Fairway woods (or fairway metals, since they're not made of wood anymore) are the next-longest clubs in your bag. For many beginner golfers, fairway woods are easier to time and hit straighter off the tee than a driver. These clubs can also be hit off the grass to advance the ball farther to the hole than other types of clubs.
  • Hybrids -- Hybrids are extremely popular clubs because they have the length of an iron but a bigger head that's more like a fairway wood. They're easy to hit, helping golfers get the ball in the air and go farther, even on mishits.
  • Irons -- Irons make up the core of a golfer's bag. Beginner sets have two types of irons, with mid-irons sporting less loft and short irons (and wedges) being the clubs you'll use when you get closer to the hole. Beginner sets do not come with long irons, which are replaced with hybrids because long irons are tough for most golfers -- even good golfers -- to hit consistently. The irons in beginner sets are made with bigger heads so they're easier to hit.
  • Putter -- Believe it or not, you'll use your putter probably more than any other single club in your bag. In a starter set, the putter won't be custom suited to your style. However, you can learn control with it and then find a putter more suited to you.

5. Do I need to get a beginner set with 14 clubs?

No, you definitely do not need 14 clubs to start out as a golfer. (A golfer can have up to 14 golf clubs, including putter, in their bag to play golf.) The beauty of starting out with fewer clubs is that you can learn how to hit those fewer clubs and then expand your repertoire. It will take time to learn how to hit short irons, mid irons, hybrids, fairway woods (off the grass and the tee) and the driver. Having all 14 clubs to start isn't necessary.

6. What shaft flex should I get with my beginner golf clubs?

Most beginner golf clubs have a standard flex, and you won't get a choice in which shafts go in which clubs. That's OK at the start. You're still figuring out how to swing the clubs and get the technique right. As you advance in your skills, you'll know more about your game that you can take into a custom fitting for your next set or next clubs, like a new driver, or wedges or putter. After you buy this initial set, you'll likely buy clubs one at a time, except for a full iron set.

The one caveat to this is that if you have been an athlete throughout your life, playing sports that require a lot of power and speed, you will probably want to consider getting a beginner set with steel shafts on the irons. Steel shafts for irons typically work better for players who have the natural ability to swing golf clubs faster.

7. Are beginner golf clubs easier to hit?

Boxed sets are designed entirely for beginner golfers. The clubs are lighter, easier to hit, more forgiving and have all the technology you need to get started. You won't be playing with equipment not matched to your skills.

8. When will I need a new golf set?

Your beginner golf set may last you just months or years. A lot of that depends on how quickly your skills develop. If you work hard on your game, play frequently and learn a lot, you may outgrow your beginner set in just a few months. If you can't devote plenty of time to developing your golf game, then the beginner set will probably last you longer. Eventually, you'll want to get golf clubs that are custom fit to your skills, your body and your physical capabilities.

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