Golf is not a cheap sport. While playing a round won’t cost you that much, buying the equipment probably will. One of the major costs is for a set of clubs, which can sometimes range into the realm of thousands of dollars. But, like anything, there are always cheaper alternatives available for those who want access to the sport without the prohibitive costs. The golf equipment industry has grown massively in the past few decades, and nowadays you can find golf clubs and equipment for a wide variety of prices. But the questions must be asked – are there drawbacks to buying inexpensive golf gear? Will expensive equipment really make you a better golfer?
Well, yes and no.
Obviously, using expensive equipment will not result in an immediate reduction in your handicap. And it’s difficult to justify spending a great deal of money on something that will not obviously improve your distance or accuracy. Some of the pricier clubs are specifically designed for professionals and low-handicap players and really won’t provide much benefit for the amateur golfer. Some come with special features – such as movable weights and adjustable club faces – that beginners don’t yet need. So if you’re just taking up the game, it’s probably not worth it to spend a lot of money on clubs initially. As well, it takes time for golfers to work out their preferences in relation to clubs, such as a particular type of shaft or a certain type of grip, because this only comes with experience and trying out different clubs. After a while of playing golf, you’ll learn what you like and don’t like and what works well for your game. If you spend a lot of money before you know these things, there’s a good chance you might discover the clubs you have are not necessarily the most suited to you.
It’s certainly not necessary to spend a lot of money on golf clubs, as you can get a nice set together even if you’re on a budget. You can even consider sourcing gently used second hand clubs available online from sites such as eBay and other second-hand resellers. But the high-end golf clubs must provide some advantages, right?
The main difference between high and low-end golf equipment is the shaft and the quality of the materials used. More expensive shaft construction translates to better feel, potentially leading to better and more consistent swings. Inconsistencies in your swing can be magnified by using the wrong type of shaft for your game. If you’re looking for clubs that will maintain their integrity and last for a long time, more expensive clubs will give you a better chance of achieving that aim. Better design and the latest cutting-edge technology can also up the level of your game if you have the skill to capitalise on them. Certain club heads can work to improve ball speed, distance and striking, and reduce side spin and the twisting effect caused by striking the ball off centre – but these features will usually only benefit the low-handicap golfer.
Another option to consider is getting custom fitted for your clubs, which will cost more but will ensure that your clubs are a perfect fit for you swing and help to optimise your performance.
There are endless choices available, but regardless of your golf club budget, there are a few things you can look for to ensure you’re getting good quality golf clubs:
- Material. Club heads should be made of stainless steel, carbon steel or beta titanium. Clubs that include zinc or a composite of steel and aluminium won’t be able to withstand the rigours of play for very long and are probably only useful as junior sets.
- Quality of the manufacturing process. Brand name manufacturers are reputed to maintain tighter control of their quality, so try and stick with reputable brands in a price bracket you can afford. If you don’t want to invest in the more expensive brands, look for cheaper brands that offer a warranty.
- Method of production. Forged clubs will generally be more expensive and of better quality than clubs that are moulded in casts.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, but you have to ask yourself, do you need it? Each person has different strengths and weaknesses that will make different clubs a better choice for their game, and expensive clubs are no substitute for time on the course. Price is not necessarily an indication of value. You can’t buy a good game – even with the latest and most expensive driver and irons you can still go out and shoot 100. And in reality, the most expensive clubs will be harder to hit than the mid-range clubs, so won’t do you any favours. If you have a handicap of 18 or more, fancy custom clubs are not really going to help your game. Until you have a good grasp of the fundamentals of the game, the cost and brand of your clubs is not especially relevant. You’d be better off going for a less expensive set which gives you the right length and shaft stiffness to suit your current game.
If you’re a quality player looking to play at a high level or professionally, then the more expensive clubs will give you an improvement in ball control and feel that will probably be worth the cost. Do your research and make sure you understand what you’re looking for and what type of club you really need, and you’ll likely find the expense a worthwhile investment in the quality of your game.