In tennis, where you have your tennis racket and the ball, there are not too many considerations to make. Of course, the rackets come from different brands and manufacturers, but overall they have the same general feel and purpose. The same could be said for things like baseball bats, basketballs, even soccer balls.
However, when it comes to golf, the equipment list is extensive. There are several different categories of golf club choices. Within those categories, there are hundreds of options for players to choose from. It is no exaggeration to say that it’s hard to find two sets of golf clubs that are exactly the same.
When players decide on the types of clubs they want in the bag, they then need to worry about custom fitting specifications and more.
Simply put, there is quite a bit of understanding about golf equipment.
However, before you become a golf equipment expert, you must first start with the different types of golf clubs on the market. Once you have these basics down, you can broaden your understanding. The four different types of golf clubs include woods, irons, wedges, and putters.
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The woods are the larger clubs in the bag. They will have the largest club head, be made with the lightest material, and have the longest length of any other golf club in the bag. Woods tend to be either a favorite club of the golfer or a least favorite.
Since woods are longer than other golf clubs, they tend to be a bit harder to control. There are two main types of woods are the driver and the fairway woods.
A driver is the largest golf club in the bag and the one that is designed to hit the golf ball the furthest. The current USGA specifications say that a driver must not be larger than 460cc’s. The driver tends to be one of the more expensive golf clubs in the bag as well.
Most people will use their driver to tee off on about 14 of the 18 holes on the golf course. Learning to hit a driver with a square clubface becomes a critical golf skill. Golf drivers, on average, have about 10.5 degrees of loft but can range anywhere from around 8 to 15.
Related: Read Our Driver Reviews Related: Driver Shaft Fitting
Fairway woods look very similar to a driver, yet they are smaller in overall size. Fairway woods can come in various lofts, typically ranging from about 13 degrees to 25 degrees.
Many golfers will carry more than one fairway wood in their golf bag, especially if they are not very long hitters. Fairway woods can help players reach long par 4’s and to get closer to a par 5 in two shots. Most fairway woods are very lightweight and made with a titanium material; the overall length of the club will be longer than irons but shorter than the driver.
The next major category of golf clubs in the irons. The irons tend to be divided even further by middle irons, long irons, and short irons. These are the distinctions used to determine the length of the club and the length that you should be able to hit each of the clubs.
Related: Learn More About One Length Irons
Most people have a traditional set of golf irons in their bag, but hybrid irons (or hybrids) and utility irons are starting to become very popular as long iron replacements.
Related: Read Our Irons Reviews
Traditional golf irons are typically offered in a 3 iron down to a 9 iron. Most golfers are starting to use the 5 iron to the 9 iron now that there are different types of golf club choices on the market. It is very important to find a set of golf irons that you enjoy and can play well with.
These golf clubs will make up the majority of your golf set and will be used quite often. Golf irons can come in different styles, like cavity back or forged irons. The styles of the golf club will appeal to a golfer based on their handicap and their ability to score.
Hybrid irons were invented to be a bit of a mix between the iron and a wood. The long irons in a set are very difficult to hit, and they are nearly impossible to make great contact with out of the rough. Hybrid clubs, however, make this process much easier.
Hybrids have become so popular in the game of golf that many people are starting to play with a complete hybrid iron set.
Utility irons are sometimes called driving irons. These clubs tend to have a bit of a thicker sole, and they can be used as an alternative to a fairway wood or a driver from the tee box. Utility irons are very low in the loft and try to help players get quite a bit of distance.
More and more golfers realize that they like the look of the utility irons a bit more than the hybrid golf clubs, and there are more of these being offered on the market. Overall, utility irons are not a new concept; they are just starting to grow in popularity.
We recommend putting the utility in the bag if you are a faster swing speed player.
Related: Review of the best Utility Irons
Golf wedges are considered to be the scoring clubs. When you get close to the green but need to be able to get the ball in the hole, you will need the golf wedges to help you do it. One thing worth mentioning about the golf wedges is that many people believe the pitching wedge, and sometimes the gap or approach wedge is part of the iron set.
Although these clubs will match your irons, and the club heads may seem identical, the wedges are typically higher lofted and have a face built for more spin. Players want to be able to hit wedges with a more exacting distance.
For most other golf clubs in the bag, getting lots of distance is a good thing; however, with the golf wedges, you will want to ensure that you can spin the golf ball and stop it where it needs to stop.
A pitching wedge is a club that falls in line right behind a nine iron. Pitching wedges usually have about 44 degrees of loft. Some pitching wedges could have as much as 48 or as little as 42. The loft really depends on the type of golf clubs you are using and the manufacturer.
Overall a pitching wedge is a great club for chipping and pitching as well as approach shots into the green. This is probably going to be one of the most used golf clubs in the entire bag.
The gap wedge can sometimes be called an approach wedge or a utility wedge. The idea with a gap wedge is to help bridge the gap in the loft from the pitching to the sand wedge. As golf clubs have changed through the years, the lofts between the pitching wedge and sand wedge have broadened, making it necessary to carry a gap wedge.
Gap wedges are great for long bunker shots and certain approaches to the green.
A sand wedge is the other most popular type of wedge in golf. Sand wedges are known for being great out of the bunker, but they can be used all over the golf course. A sand wedge typically has around 56 degrees of loft.
Many golfers use the sand wedge to hit a shot that lands softly on the green and then stops rather quickly. Players that can learn to love their sand wedge can get really good around the greens. Other clubs in the bag are important, but this may be the most important for scoring purposes.
A lob wedge is the highest lofted golf club in the bag. Most of the lob wedges on the market are right around 60 degrees of loft. A lob wedge gets lots of height, and it is great when you need to hit a ball high and land it softly.
Most of the time, golfers will use a lob wedge when hitting out of a smaller bunker or when hitting a pin on a slope. Overall the lob wedge tends to be a club preferred by better players, but anyone can use a lob wedge.
A golf putter is truly the most important club in the bag. Without the putter, you would not be able to get the ball in the hole. Putters come in two basic styles, the mallet putters and the blade putters. Mallet putters have a large clubhead and are great for those that need help with alignment and feel.
A blade putter is more of a players-style putter with just a very simple and straight club head.
Golfers need to find a putter that feels good to them and allows the putter face to be square at impact. In years past, the putter would have only been available in a steel putter shaft, but in today’s world of golf, putters can have a graphite shaft or a steel shaft.
How Do I Know Which Golf Clubs I Should Play?
One of the hardest decisions for the average golfer is which clubs they need to keep in their bag. With only fourteen clubs allowed, you will need to find options that allow you to hit the ball straight, far, and with the proper loft as well.
Many golfers go for a custom fitting to ensure that they have the clubs they need in their golf bag. A golf expert can tell you which options will allow you to hit the tee shots, approach shots, and greenside shots you need.
It takes most players years to put together a perfect set of golf clubs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The different types of golf clubs available on the market bring up many questions about the best options. Here are a few of the questions that we are asked most often.
What Are The Four Major Types of Golf Clubs?
The four major types of golf clubs are woods, irons, wedges, and putters. Within each of these categories, you will find many other subcategories describing various types of golf clubs.
How Many Golf Clubs Can Golfers Put In A Bag?
The current rule for golfers is that they can have 14 golf clubs in the bag. The types of different clubs that they choose to put in the bag are completely the decision of the player and not the USGA. Years ago, golfers could carry as many clubs as they wanted until this became a bit unnecessary.
Do Beginners Need 14 Golf Clubs In Their Bag?
Beginners can carry as many as 14 golf clubs in their bags. However, beginners don’t need to carry this many clubs. Some beginner golfers are fine to play with just five or six clubs until they know what each club is supposed to do.
However, we do recommend that a beginner learns how to hit woods, irons, wedges, and a putter. To become a great golfer, all of these different types of golf shots will be necessary, and it is worth it for a beginner to start to learn.
There is a lot to learn about golf equipment, and it only changes every year. There are new technologies constantly being added and improved. However, the basis of all of this is first to understand the different types of golf clubs. Once you know what qualifies as a wood, iron, wedge, or putter, you can then work on setting up the perfect set of clubs for your game. Every golfer has the same plan to hit the ball in the hole as quickly as possible; we all get there a different way.