With a willingness to work at your game regularly and some excellent advice and tuition (such as that provided at our fantastic golf clinics in Lascaux) a beginner golfer can soon begin to see real improvements in all aspects of their game.
Driving will be more accurate and you will find that you are hitting your shots not only straighter, but also longer. If you are using a basic set of clubs bought as a beginner, there will come a time where your game may reach a level when you really need to consider upgrading if you are to keep the momentum going in your game and usually this point comes when the individual in question becomes a low to mid-range handicapper.
The question of when this point is actually reached, is open to a large amount of conjecture. Some golf specialists will argue that a quality set of clubs can help any golfer improve their game, others will maintain that you can use any set of clubs and continue to improve right down to scratch level, provided that you have the fundamentals of the game right and receive excellent coaching.
In true golfing paradox fashion, both arguments have a degree of merit, but there are some things to look out for in your game to help you make your decision.
– Have you reached the point in your game where you are now looking to have greater control of the ball and its position, over the distance it travels?
– Have you reached the point in your game where you feel you have taken your current set of clubs to the limit of what they are capable of?
– Are you being matched or outdriven on shots by players with newer equipment that are significantly higher handicappers than you?
– Have you reached a plateau in your handicap and have not seen any improvement in your game for some time?
If you can answer yes to any of the above then it may well be time to consider a new set of clubs that are better suited to a mid-range handicap player.
The Driver – Essentially, any golfer is seeking the same results from their driver regardless of their abilities. They want the ball to go far and as accurately as possible. However for a mid-range handicapper, going to the range to test out a range of different drivers is always a good idea. Experiment too with different shafts, older players or less speedier hitters may benefit from a graphite shaft, while those who have a rapid swing speed may find steel shafts ideal.
While at the range look for a driver that delivers consistent distance and accuracy, not one over the other. This should enable you to be longer from the tee, while retaining accuracy for your second shot.
Fairway Woods, Hybrids & Long Irons: The reason I have lumped all three of these items together is that by the time a golfer has reached a decent level of playing, they have already developed an understanding of which clubs they prefer.
Some may prefer hitting long irons over fairway woods, others may prefer hybrids over long irons, some like professional Lee Westwood, prefer a ‘rescue club’ which is something like a 7-wood/hybrid cross. The truth is, selecting which of these items suits your game is a personal choice and depends very much on which clubs you tend to play in certain situations and which clubs offer you the best results.
Mid-low irons: Beginners may start to use cavity backed irons as they are more forgiving but as the need for distance control improves as your handicap lowers, many mid-range players find that a club that maximises distance and control is the best. There are many clubs on the market that fit the bill here and your preference is only limited to the number of different clubs that you can buy.
Expect to pay a lot more for a set of good irons at this level though, while your beginner set may have been a few hundred euros in its entirety, you can spend more than that on your irons alone when you reach this level.
One piece of advice however that should always be followed for mid-range handicappers is to get yourself measured for your clubs, by having the clubs set up for your style of play, you can find them far more consistent, accurate and forgiving.
Wedges – A player who is a mid-range handicapper may also find some value in evaluating the wedges they need. In addition to the sand wedge and pitching wedge, many players find that a lob-wedge is a good addition to the bag especially for those awkward pitch shots over bunkers where you need to get the ball up and down quickly.
Remember however that you are only allowed 14 clubs in your bag, so try out a variety of lob wedges of varying lofts to see which one suits your game and also is most likely to be used most out on the course.
Putter – Here’s the good news, you only need to change your putter when you feel the need to. Putting is such a personal artform that there is no real need to change a putter as your handicap goes up or down, it is more a personal choice due to a perceived lack of luck/ability on the green that tends to encourage a golfer to change their putter.
If you are happy with the putter you have, then stick with it, but remember you can try out a variety of putters at your pro shop at any time if you feel you need something extra on the greens.
All the rest of your equipment does not need to be replaced, though if you have bought bigger sized clubs and an extra club or two, then you may find a tour golf bag is a good idea to carry the extras around the course.
Finally, the only other item of your golf equipment to consider changing is your ball. As a beginner, distance balls may be the first choice, but as you gain in ability, control is more important. Look for a golf ball that combines distance with control, yet is still affordable enough so that you don’t weep copiously when you slice a ball into a nearby pond!
There are plenty of outstanding balls to try out there from the likes of Nike, Titleist, Bridgestone, Srixon, Callaway and more and your local golf shop will be able to advise you on the ball best suited to your golfing requirements.
Images by Gorilla Golf Blog, Taylor Made