You need to have a distinct set makeup, one that saves your swing and game. Remember that what works best for your friend may not necessarily function for you. So how do you pin down the right combination of woods, hybrids, irons and wedges that's most ideal for you?
"My best advice is to first get a custom-fitting session from a PGA professional," says Jerry King, PGA, director of instruction at Kapalua Golf Academy in Lahaina, Hawaii, and one of America's top instructors. "This is the first and most important domino in the process. A quality clubfitting will guide you through all of the necessary steps to arrive at a set unique to your personal requirements and preferences."
A fitting will determine the proper shaft model, length and flex; clubhead lie angle; driver loft; iron clubhead type; grip type and size; wedge lofts and bounces; and the most effective, efficient club mix for your set. You might even score some quality swing tips along the way.
For new golfers, King suggests a two-hour session. "The first half is spent building a solid setup and swing specifically designed for that player," says King. "This gives us a positive head start to the fitting process, so when it's time to begin the clubfitting, the golfer's warmed up and dialed in with strong fundamentals. This makes the fitting process much __easier and more productive toward getting accurate fit specifications."
You'll discover in a fitting session which clubs you hit better than others, which clubs you don't need, and which are essential. The pro will help you figure that out and optimize the set so that it gives you the most possible enjoyment and the best odds for success. King emphasizes that many newcomers don't even need a full set, as they're learning the game.
In addition to clubfitting, you can visit any major club brand's website for interactive experiences that can help with set building and pricing. You might also spend some time perusing golf shops and testing some clubs, to see what feels and looks good to you.
"The club-finding process is a lot easier if you have a plan," says Grant Rogers, PGA, director of instruction at the world-renowned Bandon (Ore.) Dunes Golf Resort, who's adamant that hybrid clubs be part of your plan–no matter your skill level. "They're easier to hit than long irons and fairway woods with lofts less than 15 degrees, are excellent for hitting shots out of playable rough and long bunker shots, and can make short shots around the green easier if you struggle with chipping." Have your clubfitter work out distance gapping with you, to decide which hybrid lofts best fit your game.
Speaking of distance gapping, you'll also need to consider that with your wedges, because they're key to scoring. Most players utilize either a three- or four-wedge mix, with the lofts appropriately gapped. Again, a clubfitter can determine which mix works optimally for you, taking into account the course you typically play and the shots you need there. Still, King advises, "It's very important to determine what wedge shape and grind best fits your style of play. Wide or narrow sole, high or low bounce, bounce toward trailing or leading edge, etc?" The right combination will help make you a lot better.