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Golf 101: What makes a good golf club?

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Best of…hottest…longest, most forgiving…and on, and on, and on…

This is the common dialogue around golf clubs. Let’s pause for a minute—What actually does a good club do? Go a long way? Get you closer to your target? Feel good? Look good? I mean, what the hell?

In my own way, I want to explain exactly what a good golf club will do, or better yet, what it needs to do to earn a place in your bag. Remember this and never forget—clubs earn spots, not just get spots because they are clubs. If you want to get better, you have to adopt that philosophy.

Every great player took complete ownership over their sticks. From Tiger’s almost overwhelming precision around spin and launch windows, to Greg Norman pulling apart every club in his bag and reassembling them to match the exact weight and even spine angle, even to the extreme with players like Ben Hogan who started their own companies to control every aspect of what went in his bag. The stories are damn near bedtime fairy tales for gear heads.

In my studies, I have found that there are five things all clubs must do to earn a spot in your bag, but before I get to that, I wanted to ask five people who I trust what they think makes a great club…

Chris Trott (TaylorMade Tour) – “The combination of parts that make the swing weight correct for the player which in turn impact the proper dynamic loft.”

Aaron Dill (Titleist/Vokey) – “A good golf club is a balance of versatility and forgiveness with a physical shape and color that draws you in and makes you feel confident every time you lay your eyes on it.”

Roger Cleveland (Callaway Golf) – “It has to be properly fit, feel good, and visually it has to inspire. If clubs look good, they perform well.”

Jimmy Walker (2016 PGA Champion) – “Sound and feel are HUGE, especially in the metal woods. I want a heavy hammer sound and feel ”

Steve Elkington (1995 PGA Champion) -“I want my golf clubs zeroed out. No frills. Just square to the eye, stiff stable shaft, and a club that puts me in the driver’s seat to do all the magic.”

So let’s get into the nitty-gritty…

Here are the five main things a golf club must have no matter what to make it in the bag. In no particular order, this is what makes a good golf club.

  1. Optics: Club has to look good to your eye. If it doesn’t, and you are having to stare down at something you hate, it’s not gonna work. Yes, you may still play with it, but are you willing to give up real estate to something you hate looking at? No. The answer is no. Look good. Feel good. Play good. Simple life lesson as well.
  2. Feel: Boardy, dense, clicky, hollow, loud, etc. All red flags for a golf club. First of all, sound is feel, if you don’t like the music turn off the radio. If you hit it out of the middle and don’t get that feeling like your winning life..its gotta go.
  3. Fit: All parts of the club have to work in harmony to deliver the club properly for you whether you make a perfect swing or not. Elk calls it “sweet spotting itself.” You ever have a club that was your go-to because it just always worked and you always seem to hit it solid? All 14 should be that way, no matter what your handicap index is. Fitters and parts are so good these days that if you can’t find it, you are asking the wrong questions. And when I say parts, I mean the whole build—head, shaft, grip, weight, etc. It has to be dialed. You want an easy friend, not a drama queen.
  4. Gapping: Driver is your thunder stick. It’s the one club in your bag that needs to go as far as you can make it go. Past that, it’s a gapping game. From 3W to LW you need to know exactly how far the clubs need to go. 1) Center hits 2) Your predominant miss. For example, your flushed PW goes 128 but for normal people, you only do that 2/10 times. Get honest and figure out what your predominant face contact is and gap from that shot. So, if you are like me and hit it center thin 5/10 times, get that yardage and use that in your gapping as a baseline.
  5. Versatility: The club has to give you places to go to. Up, down, left, right, hard, soft, and everything in-between. Each club should add tools to your repertoire not limit them. The driver is the only club you can really isolate in regards to what it can do. If big, nasty, violent bombs are all it can do, that’s just fine.

Happy hunting.

 

 

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Aug 29, 2020 at 11:48 am

    “What makes a good golf club?”… IMO the golf shaft.

  2. SV677

    Aug 28, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    I am not sure how this exactly fits in, but one thing I find that makes finding a good club difficult is demo availability of irons. You are generally asked to make a decision based on hitting a demo 7 iron. Why not have 4, 7, and pitching wedge to try? This way you can get a better idea if the set is right for you.
    Also, give left-handers a chance. Many times I have wanted to try something (driver, fairway, hybrid, iron or wedge) that I know is available left-handed, but no demo is available. I don’t know if this in on the seller or OEM, but it is exasperating.

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