Golf is a fun and challenging sport. Having the correct equipment can help you get off on the right foot.
Maybe you have been to the driving range a time or two, or maybe you have golfed with a friend, or better yet, maybe you have a business meeting coming up on the golf course.
Whatever the reason for your new interest in golf, we can help you with what you need to get started.
Dress Code and What to Wear
First we will talk about clothing. You don’t have to go out and spend a few hundred dollars on golf clothing, but you easily could.
Starting with your feet and working our way up, you need shoes. Golf shoes come in a wide price range. The price won’t matter as much as the comfort.
An 18 hole round of golf can take 4+ hours with a lot of walking, so you want to try the shoes on and walk around a bit.
Practice your swing a few time with the shoes tied up tight, you don’t want your feet sliding around inside the shoe. Be sure the shoes have some good grip or cleats.
For more information, read our comprehensive guide to the best golf shoes on the market.
Moving up from your feet, you’ll need pants or shorts next. Different courses have different dress codes, but typically jeans are prohibited.
Actual golf apparel is light and airy and made for the sport. If you already own a khaki or similar style pants or shorts, that may work for you also.
Whichever you choose, be sure they aren’t too tight and allow freedom of movement.
Shirts are usually required to have a collar, and should also allow freedom of movement. An actual golf shirt is light and airy. They are also made to allow you to swing you clubs easily.
Hats and Sunglasses
Hats are optional, I often find that wearing a hat makes it easier to focus on keeping my eye on the ball. A nice pair of sunglasses are a must, especially in you don’t wear a hat.
Clubs – Driver, Irons, and Putter
Now that you’re looking good in your golf clothes, it’s time to go get some equipment. There is a lot to sort through as far as equipment goes.
For this I would highly suggest heading to a golf store that has a place for you to try the clubs before you buy them.
Some places may have an outdoor driving range, and some may have an indoor range, either is fine as long as you can get a feel for the clubs.
Most golf stores will have club sets that are all put together with a bag. For some people this is a decent option, and usually less expensive than piecing things separately. You can also check out our reviews of the best golf club sets for beginners for more info.
You will also find the irons will come in a set, sometimes you can get these with a wood, hybrid, or both. A typical set of clubs will have 12 clubs and you are allowed to have up to 14 clubs.
This will include 3 woods, usually a Driver, a 3-wood, and a 5-wood. 8 Irons are usually in a set 3-9 iron and a pitching wedge, sometimes it’s 4-9 iron, PW, and a sand wedge. That makes 11 clubs, the last one to complete your set is a putter.
The driver will be the most expensive club you own, and some people will argue that it is the most important.
When you’re shopping for your driver, you will see there are many different options to choose from.
Shafts will come in different weights and different flex. A rule of thumb for shafts (for all your clubs not just the driver) is the slower your swing, the lighter and more flex you want from your shaft.
Another difference is the loft of the driver head. Loft is the angle the ball comes off the face of the club and are usually between 8 and 12 degrees. The loft will also increase the backspin of the ball making it go higher.
As a rule of thumb, a slower swing will want a higher loft, usually over 10. Many clubs these days are easily adjustable and can be changed on the course.
The clubs that have adjustable loft will likely have weight adjustments as well. Adjusting the weights in the different part of the club head will change the center of gravity and could have positive impact on your drive.
Usually there will be a golf pro working where you are buying your clubs. They are a great help, use them as a resource to ask any questions and get recommendations from them as well.
Many golf stores will do club fittings, and this is a great way to get a driver that will be the best match for your swing and body type.
Having good irons that suit your game can make a huge impact on your game. Ideally, getting custom fit is the way to go for new irons.
There are three main categories of irons, Blades, Cavity Backs and Game improvement clubs. Blades are the best for the good ball strikers, people that can consistently hit the center of the club, or sweet spot.
Cavity backs will have some forgiveness for the off center hits. The game improvement irons have the most forgiveness and help launch shots into the air.
I would highly suggest having the golf pro help you select these as well. Definitely try these before you buy them. When I bought mine, I took a 7 iron from each of the sets I was considering and hit about 30 balls each.
Why the 7 iron? This is my most used iron, I hit it the most consistently so I attempt to play my game to a 7 Iron distance and then can use my “best” club to get as close to the hole as possible.
“Long” irons (3-5) are something to consider NOT buying. A lot of people have traded in their long irons for hybrids. Often they will have the same distance but a more consistent ball strike.
Last of the clubs, and another “most important” club, The Putter! The fun thing about choosing a putter is, trying it out.
Every place I have been that sells putters, have a green area where you can try the putter.
The first thing you want to do when selecting a putter is find one that looks good to you. That may sound a little crazy, but a big part of putting is confidence, which will start with being proud of the putter you have.
There are two main styles of putter heads. There is the blade style and the mallet style.
On a basic level, a mallet style is less likely to twist so is better for a player that putts straight back to front with little or no arch. The blade style is better suited for an arched stroke. The mallet style is also helpful with alignment.
I would suggest taking about a half hour or so and try out a bunch of different putters while you’re in the store.
A Bag for Your Clubs
Now that we have all of our clubs, we need a bag for them. The style of bag you buy will depend on how you’re going to get around the course.
Different styles include Staff bags, Cart bags, stand bags, and carry bags.
Staff bags are typical ones the pros use. They are the heaviest, but if you’re a pro, the caddy is carrying it. They are the highest priced bags and are the best quality.
Cart bags are lighter than the staff bags, and are the best if you’re using a push/pull cart or a golf cart. These will often have a rubber bottom so they stay put while in a cart.
A stand bag has retractable legs that will keep your bag upright if you’re walking the course. They will have straps like a backpack to make them easy to carry.
The Carry bags are the lightest of them all. They are a pretty basic bag with not much in the way of pockets, just enough to carry balls, tees and few other things.
Different bags will have different features as well. Dividers are something I look at when investing in a new bag. I like the 14 place dividers, but you can get different amounts of dividers or none at all.
Pockets and storage space are good to have, especially if you’re going to have rain gear, rangefinders and other extras.
A putter well is an oversized pocket designed to go all the way down and protect the putter grip, and is a good feature if you have an oversized grip.
Like buying a putter, you’ll also want a bag that looks good to you.
Must Haves – Balls and Tees
We have the clothes, the clubs and a bag to carry them. We still have a few more things we need to have, a few things we want to have and some things that are just cool or helpful.
Balls, we need balls. With so many different balls how do you decide?
As a new player, you might want to start with a variety of inexpensive balls. Depending on the course you are playing, a player with less control is likely to lose quite a few balls.
As you meet players, you will find that many people have a certain brand they like the best and only play with those.
Once you find a ball that feels good when you hit it, it is a good idea to stick with that one.
Now that you have a good idea about balls, you need to get some tees. Tees will come in a variety of lengths, styles, and materials.
Wooden tees break often but are cheaper, plastic tees will last a lot longer but cost a bit more, and what about those short little tees?
Again, as a new player you may want a variety of tees to try so you can figure out what you’re comfortable using.
I personally like the standard 2 ¾ inch plastic tees. Having the really short ones is good when teeing off with a club besides your driver.
With everything we have purchased so far, you can go out and play a round of golf. Although there are a few more things that you should have, as well as some things that you might just want.
While most courses have markers at 100 and 150 yards, a rangefinder is a great tool to have. These are fairly expensive and not necessary at all, but they sure are nice! These will let know the distance to the hole from where you are standing. Even a good budget rangefinder will get this job done for you.
There are also pretty accurate smartphone apps and smart watch apps, but I prefer the rangefinder.
Ball Marker and Divot Tool
A ball marker and divot tool are great to have too. I like the one that is a combo.
You will need something to mark your ball on the green while the other players in your group are putting, some people use a coin, but an actual ball marker is thinner and doesn’t bother the ball as much if it gets rolled over.
Another great thing to have is a club brush, these look like a two sided toothbrush and have wire and plastic bristles on either side.
I like to have 2 towels hooked to my bag as well, I keep one wet and one dry to also clean my club heads.
Other Equipment and Tools Worth Trying
Many people play with a glove on their non dominant hand to improve grip. It’s not a bad idea to try one out and see if it helps you at all.
A new player may have trouble keeping track of their strokes and you can buy a stroke counter in a few different styles.
I have often seen the beads hooked to a players belt, you just move a bead after every stroke.
As you walk around in the golf store, you will see all kinds of different things that we didn’t talk about.
Some things you may want to try and some things you may not have a clue as to what they are.
If you see something that looks like it might help, give it a try. Anything that could give you a stroke or two advantage, might be worth it.
One thing I have seen that could help a new golfer is the alignment stencil. It goes over your ball so you can draw a straight line right on your ball.
When you get on the green, align that line with the hole (or the spot you want to aim) and it could help you with accuracy.
There is a lot of equipment involved with getting started as a golfer. Now you know what you need to get started, and a few of the extras that could make the game a little smoother for you.
As you golf with different people don’t be afraid to ask about their gear. You might just find someone using something that might help you along the way!