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How to play golf: Building a bag for your skill level

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When it comes to learning how to play golf, putting together a set of clubs is a vital step. The best way to do so will always be to see a fitter and go through the process of getting everything dialed in.

The problem for many golfers is this process can be both cost and time prohibitive. So to help you simplify your bag, we have put together an easy to follow guide, as well as a link to some of our most recent pieces about selecting clubs to put in your bag.

How to play golf: Building the right bag for you

Beginner/Casual golfer/Lower swing speed

how to play golf beginner set

This is where most new golfers fit in, and the biggest goal when putting together a set for a player in this category is to make the club selection process on the course easier and use clubs that provide the most confidence.

A typical set for someone just learning how to play golf will include but not be limited to

  • A driver with a fixed hosel and loft between 10.5 and 12°.
  • Fairway wood, generally a single (18°) 5-wood to be used all over the course. One of the hardest clubs to hit even for skilled players is a 3-wood, so even if one comes with your set, maybe set it aside for a while.
  • Hybrid clubs to replace hard to hit long irons, which can also be helpful with chipping around the greens.
  • Cavity back irons offer the greatest amount of forgiveness, and for beginners and slower speed players their perimeter weighting and a lower center of gravity help get the ball in the air.
  • Sand wedge. Having a single wedge (after the pitching wedge) for around the green will help simplify the decision-making process and for new players. Getting comfortable with a single club around the green for different shots can help quickly lower scores.
  • A putter that is the right length and has a comfortable grip should be all you’re really focusing on at this point. Try not to get too caught up with a certain design, but keep in mind larger mallet putters can be easier to line up and can really help nail down the basics.
  • Value two-piece golf balls to help reduce spin, keep shots more on line, and save a few dollars—because over the course of a round of golf this player is likely to lose a few.

Intermediate/Occasional golfer/Average swing speed

This is the largest part of the golf population and simply having the right clubs can vastly improve scoring and consistency. It is at this level when most golfers start to build preferences towards certain styles of clubs, particularly putters, and it becomes a lot more important to have a number of properly gapped wedges.

  • An adjustable driver can help correct for misses and a changing golf swing.
  • Multiple fairway woods including higher lofted options like a 7 or 9-wood can help with longer approach shots and getting out of the rough.
  • Hybrids are another option for long shots because of their increased forgiveness and ease to launch – for golfers in this category looking for irons sets, hybrids are often included.
  • Cavity back irons are still going to be the best option but as mentioned above. Finding a combo set with hybrids included can help with gapping and keep costs down too.
  • Multiple wedges after the pitching wedge, most importantly a gap wedge before a sand wedge can tighten up distance gaps with shorter clubs and help prevent the dreaded “in-between clubs” situation.
  • Using a multi-piece ball that offers more spin and a softer feel around the green or a urethane “tour” ball will help tighten dispersion and control around the green and can assist in turning bogeys into pars.

Low Handicap/Regular golfer/Higher swing speed

It is at this level where getting fit becomes vital in being able to maximize potential and scoring. One thing to keep in mind—not all low handicap golfers have high swing speeds, so make sure you select clubs with the right shaft flex and weight. The general setup for this golfer is as follows

  • An adjustable driver can optimizing trajectory and flight and will maximize potential distance while reducing dispersion.
  • Multiple fairway woods that offer proper gapping to approach longer holes or lay back off the tee.
  • Hybrid or driving iron—because everyone can need help hitting longer approach shots.
  • Irons with a smaller profile are a favorite of lower handicap players, and one of the most common setups involves a combo set to increase control.
  • Multiple (specialty) wedges assist in saving shots and this means selecting the right ones for different situations based on playing style and course conditions.
  • A putter that matches stroke style, as well as a golfer’s eye, will provide the most confidence and consistency.
  • Using a multi-piece urethane “tour” ball will offer the most control and help with short game scoring.

The half set 

Using a half set is the great equalizer. Regardless of swing speed or skill level, it is still one of the best ways to enjoy the game. It makes clubs selection simple, it promotes creativity and can speed up play. Add on the fact that you are potentially carrying half the weight you would normally carry during a round of golf, and it’s a recipe for fun.

Don’t just take my word for it either, a few months ago Rory McIlroy said this on the McKellar Podcast

“I think it’s one of the best ways to practice, I do it quite a bit… because when you have only half your clubs you are always in between clubs and you have to do something…I tell junior golfers to learn to hit a 7 iron 140 yards (implying hitting it much shorter than a stock shot) because it teaches artistry, which is something they don’t do enough of in the modern game.”

Other GolfWRX resources for selecting clubs

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. david kupsick

    Aug 2, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Spend a few hundred dollars on instructions from PGA professional.

    You’ll enjoy the game sooner.

  2. Mike Singleton

    Aug 1, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Your 1/2 set suggestion has merit for every golfer. Learning to control your club speed & distances with various clubs, some not your typical pulls for the shot at hand, teach you how to play golf…manipulate the balls flight-speed-spin-carry….then you become a scoring threat !

    Learned this a long time ago….even suggested to many Golf Equip. Mfgrs. Reps. to have their companies spread lofts to 5-6 degrees between clubs as this makes you consider these factors ( above ) and create shots that provide satisfaction to the better player. Remember, Ben Hogan said,
    ” On my good days, I only hit maybe 6 shots exactly as I planned….after that, it’s managing your miss hits “

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Whats in the Bag

Jordan Spieth’s winning WITB 2021 Valero Texas Open

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Jordan Spieth what’s in the bag accurate as of the Valero Texas Open.

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TS2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 7 X

Hybrid: Titleist 818 H2 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 95 X Hybrid

Irons: Titleist T100 (4-9)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Vokey Proto (60-T)
Shafts: True Temper Project X 6.0 (6.5 in 46)

 

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A post shared by Aaron Dill (@vokeywedgerep)


Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: SuperStroke Traxion Flatso 1.0

Grips: SuperStroke S-Tech

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

 

 

 

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Equipment rewind: A deep dive into the Cleveland HiBore driver legacy

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I have always been fascinated by product development, specifically the development of unconventional products. Now in the world of golf clubs, one of the most unconventional designs ever introduced was the Cleveland HiBore driver, which during its lifespan, experienced tremendous success through a number of generations, including the HiBore XL, XLS, and finally, the Monster XLS, which, as you may remember, hid the acronym “MOI” on the sole, alluding to its massive level of forgiveness.

As a golfer, I played the original HiBore, along with the XL Tour for a period of time and was always curious about the story behind the “scooped out crown.” In a search for answers, I reached out to Cleveland-Srixon to get the lowdown on the HiBore and discuss where it sits in the pantheon of drivers.

Ryan Barath: Considering how engineers are continuing to do everything they can to increase MOI and push the center of gravity low and deep in driver heads, it feels like the original HiBore and the subsequent models were well ahead of their time from a design perspective. 

It makes logical sense the best way to save weight from the crown is to make the crown “disappear” compared to traditionally shaped drivers, am I correct in assuming that?

Cleveland design team: You nailed it.

At the time of the HiBore, there were really only two solutions to create a low and deep center of gravity:

    1. Make the crown lighter – by either replacing the crown with a lighter-weight material such as a graphite composite or magnesium or by thinning out the material on the crown. Thinner crowns were possible thanks to advances in casting technology and using etching techniques to remove material.
    2. Make the driver shallower – this change in geometry created a very forgiving low profile design, but the downside to this was that you ended up with a very small face that looked intimidating compared to the larger-faced drivers on the market.

The HiBore took a new approach and inverted the crown geometry so that all the crown weight was moved lower. By inverting the crown the HiBore design allowed for a very long and flat sole, therefore there was space in the head that was really low and deep to put the weight.

The HiBore was really the first driver to eliminate, or nearly eliminate the tapered skirt. Almost every modern driver in the market is inspired by the HiBore in that respect. It was a two-part solution where we lowered the weight of the crown and simultaneously created a low/deep location to put any extra mass.

The lower and deeper CG of the HiBore improved launch conditions significantly, but also made the driver much more consistent across the entire face. The deep CG increased MOI resulting in tighter dispersion since the sweet spot was in the center of the face. Misses both low and high performed exceptionally as opposed to having a small hot spot high on the face.

RB: In every conversation I have ever had with engineers, there is always this give-and-take mentality from a design perspective to get to the final iteration. Was there anything that was given up or sacrificed for overall performance with this design?

Cleveland design team: The hardest part about the HiBore design was the sound. Prior to the HiBore, internal ribbing in a hollow golf club head was nearly unheard of. To make the HiBore sound acceptable, we had to design a ribbing structure to control the sound and design an entirely new manufacturing process to produce those internal ribs. To this day, most drivers include some form of internal ribbing to control sound or improve ball speed and that ribbing technology can be traced back to the HiBore.

In terms of tradeoffs, the major one was the low spin nature of the driver made it more difficult for low spin players to use. If a golfer is already low spin, this club would be too low and drives would just fall out of the air. Low spin golfers tend to be low spin because they hit the ball high on the face. Since we lowered the sweet spot, a high face impact was further from the sweet spot so ball speed fell as compared to a higher CG driver. Fortunately for us, in that era most golfers were fighting too much spin or way too much spin, this wasn’t a real issue.

RB: Do you have any final words on the HiBore drivers and the legacy they have left behind?

Cleveland design team: We are very proud of the HiBore driver family and the success it had at the time, but we are also proud of its legacy.

In the same way that you can trace nearly every modern band back to the Beatles or Led Zeppelin, you can trace nearly every modern driver back to HiBore either through the internal structure that is prolific across modern drivers, or the long, flat sole that is a must-have in a high-performance driver.

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Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (04/03/21): Tiger Woods spec’d irons

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At GolfWRX, we love golf, plain and simple.

We are a community of like-minded individuals who all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing, including equipment or, in this case, a sweet set of irons!

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for Tiger Woods spec’d TaylorMade P7TW irons, or as they are also known: the GOAT irons.

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: TaylorMade P7TW **TIGER SPECS* 3-PW

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules.

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