There are so many impractical things about golf: it takes ages, you’re not allowed to wear your usual gym kit, and unless you know someone who’s willing to lend you some, you’ll also need your own set of clubs. You definitely can’t get away with just grabbing a ball and an old pair of trainers.
You can carry up to 14 clubs in a round, which might seem excessive and cause you to ask why on earth you need so many that all basically look the same. But of course they do different things and there is actually some logic behind this madness.
Golfers can talk about their clubs, their favourite, their least favourite, what they like about them, and what they don’t like about them, for what seems like hours.
The release of a fancy new set of clubs is also extremely exciting. Like everyone dreams of owning a Firebolt broomstick in Harry Potter, many golfers hanker after the TaylorMade M1 driver.
To enjoy golf you don’t need to obsess over having the latest clubs, but you do need to have an understanding of what you should use them for and when. You don’t want to be that idiot who cracks out a pitching wedge on the tee.
So for anyone who is left feeling increasingly bamboozled by words like irons, woods, and wedges, here’s a vague description of a set of clubs. And whatever you do, don’t call them sticks…
These are the ones with the big heads that have head covers.
They look like they should be really heavy, but they’re actually hollow-bodied and feel quite light for their size.
If someone asks you to pick up a wood, you might start desperately looking for a club that’s made of wood. But that would be foolish, as they aren’t actually made from wood anymore and the name is just there to catch you out.
Also referred to as fairway woods or simply fairways, these are for when you need to hit it a long way.
Apparently not many people bother having 2 or 4 woods nowadays, but you might find yourself with a 7-wood in your first set of clubs.
Like with the irons, the higher the number, the more loft the club has, meaning the ball will go higher in the air.
This is the biggest, most intimidating-looking club in your bag.You use this for driving or trying to hit the ball really, really far.
You’ll either love your driver or be a bit scared of it; it’s longer than all the others so you might have less control over where the ball is going.
But if you don’t mind lodging your ball in a tree every now and again, they are very fun.
You’ll also look far more professional posing with your driver rather than with an iron. Which will lead to more likes on Instagram, which of course is the main point of doing anything in life.
These are the ones with the smaller heads, and most golfers will have at least three in their bag. To the casual observer they are largely identical, the only difference is that they are labelled 3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9.
These are actually made of iron, or sometimes steal, so they at least they look like the name suggests they should.
These are used when you don’t want to hit it as far as you would with a wood or a driver. Perhaps when you’re hitting it off the fairway and trying to get it vaguely near the green.
These look like irons but they have a much higher loft. They come in several varieties such as the pitching wedge (PW), sand wedge (SW) and lob wedge (LW).
Again you tell them apart by looking at the letters on the head.
Because you can never have too many clubs, someone decided to combine a wood and iron together to form a hybrid.
The name hybrid makes them sound quite edgey and cool, but really they look just like a wood.
They are supposedly easier to hit than a long iron, so perhaps as a beginner you might take to this club.
Least confusing of all, the putter is used for tapping the ball into the hole once you’re on the green.
It’s a different shape to the others and so pretty easy to identify.
There are lots of different types of putter including blade, face-balanced, toe-balanced, weighted, mallet and many more. I’m not really sure what the differences are, and I’m sure any attempt to explain them would just bore you into searching for funny cat videos instead.
Putting is where people tend to feel the pressure the most and it’s arguably the most important part of the game. So your putter is the club that you’re most likely to throw on the ground in anger or cry over, so you’ll get to know each other pretty well.
Whether you’ve just had your first lesson or you’ve been playing for years, a custom fitting will tell what exactly you should be carrying in your golf bag. They’ll give you advice that’s far more professional and knowledgeable than my ramblings.