One of the reasons golf is notoriously expensive is because it requires the regular purchasing of pricey equipment. The game is actually a little bit more financially democratic than many people give it credit for, with second-hand equipment and public courses evening out the playing field so that everyone can enjoy the great sport.
But, if you are just starting out, there is a checklist of stuff you absolutely need to get. Today we take a look at a list of equipment that will help you get started out in golf.
First, budget for around $1000
Notice I said budget for $1000. This doesn’t mean you’ll have to spend that much. It just means that’s a realistic expectation for outfitting a beginner.
New irons alone can cost significantly more than $1000, so in that sense it’s actually a good deal. In the guide below, we will list ways that can potentially help you spend significantly less than that, but regardless, it will be wise to set 1k aside for the startup.
“Beginner” Sets are Basically Useless.
If you’ve been perusing the aisles of your local golf shop, you’ve probably come across beginner sets. Pre-boxed packages that come with a few clubs and a bag. Everything you need (according to the packaging) to get started in golf. And the best part? They are usually only a couple hundred dollars. Whew! Buying worries are over, right?
Not quite. Beginner sets may sound great in theory but in principle, they have sharp limitations. The biggest of these problems is that you don’t get a full bag of clubs. Most feature a driver, a three wood, a few irons, a wedge or two, and a putter.
If you’ve never swung a club before that may sound like plenty, but it’s really not. A standard golf bag features fourteen clubs (as allowed for by the USGA).
No decent player in the game willingly opts for less than that because you need that amount of equipment to play all of the unique shots you come across during a round of golf.
A partial set will be fine for the range, but once you take your game to the course, you will need to upgrade, meaning you’ll quickly be shelling out more money for a full set.
Instead, Buy Used Clubs
Here’s a dirty little secret for you: there’s never a super compelling reason to buy a driver, a set of irons, a putter, within the first few months of their release.
The price tags on fresh equipment are just asinine. A driver released for $500 will probably be $300 six months later. Get it used and it will probably be $250.
If you’re willing to buy equipment that is several years old, you should be able to get everything you need for around $600.
Here is a check list of the clubs you will be needing.
- Iron Set (4 iron-Pitching Wedge)
- 3 Hybrid or 5 Wood
- 3 Wood
- 56-degree Wedge
- 52-Degree Wedge
- 60-Degree Wedge
Note that golf bag configuration isn’t actually a dogmatically rigid affair. For example, if you’d like to sub in a 3-iron instead of a hybrid, that’s perfectly acceptable. There is also lots of variation to be had with wedge selection.
The recommendations above are just guidelines. This also happens to be the club configuration that I usually use.
When selecting your clubs, it’s ok to buy mostly for price, but also note that equipment is very skill level oriented. Beginner golfers should look for equipment in the “game improvement” category.
These clubs will feature oversized faces, generous sweet spots, and a hosel offset design that is optimal for fledgling swings.
“Players” clubs (as they are usually called) work pretty much the opposite way and will give beginners a miserable time, so be mindful.
The only clubs that don’t have skill level contingencies (for the most part) are the irons and wedges. There definitely are variations of these clubs made specifically for the beginner, but the most important factor is just that you like the way they look and feel in your hands.
The Golf Bag
New golf bags can run you upwards of $200 (some costing significantly more than this). Used golf bags are often basically free.
A secondhand store would be a good place to begin your search. I’ve seen bags at resale shops for under $10. So long as the straps are still sturdy, they will work just fine.
The Smart Way to Buy Golf Balls
Golf balls are a constant expense. You’ll lose lots of them when you start out, so opt for the cheapest box you can find.
Some stores and courses will sell lake balls—used equipment that was literally retrieved from lakes. This is a great way to get lots and lots of balls on the cheap. They will be a little grimy and scuffed up but for the average hacker, this doesn’t matter.
Don’t Forget the Tees
I literally always forget the tees. There is nothing worse than arriving at the first hole for your opening shot and realizing you don’t have a single tee in the bag to work with.
The only plus side is that the majority of courses sell or provide them for free in the pro shop. They are incredibly cheap but be sure to stay well-stocked so you don’t run out mid-round.
If You Don’t Get a Glove You Will Get Blisters
Pretty self-explanatory heading. It may be tempting to save twenty bucks and skip the glove but you do so at your own peril. Blisters are a perpetual problem for the new golfer, but gloves mitigate the risk sharply.
They also help you grip the club a little better, giving you more control over the clubhead.
So, did you hit the thousand-dollar mark? My hope and expectation is that most new golfers won’t. Hopefully, the checklist provided here today has taught you not only what you need to buy, but also how to go about buying it.