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Beginner advice needed on selecting a full set of new clubs

post #1 of 76
Thread Starter 

Greetings Folks,

 

I haven't been able to locate a section dedicated specifically to "Beginners", but I've posted a detailed Intro under the "Welcome, Everyone" section, so there's more information there if needed. Anyway, I'm a relative beginner to golf with a need for some new clubs, so I guess I'll start here.

 

I've played a few rounds of golf with rental clubs in recent weeks, but for several key reasons, I'd like to start taking the game a bit more seriously, so I'm going to make the investment in a new set of clubs. Basically, I'd just like to get some of 'beginner' questions answered on the design, fitting and selection of new clubs, before I go exposing myself to any significant blind (i.e., on-line) purchases or to any retail sales people.

 

I'm talking here about things like . . .

 

1) What are some of the better brands of irons, woods and drivers I should look for?

 

2) Should I focus on metal or graphite shafts?

 

3) At 6' 3" and 245 lbs, should I focus on regular, stiff or so-called senior flex? And what about overall shaft length?

 

Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you!

 

post #2 of 76
All things being equal, most golf clubs that you can buy at a golf store (or even a big box sporting goods store) will be of sufficient quality to get you started. As you start to get better you will start to appreciate the differences that different clubs have. As for which particular brand, I would say that largely is defined by what you can afford. Most big golf stores sell a full set for around $200 to $300. The golf course that I call home, sometimes even offers a get started in golf package. It is a series of lessons designed around the beginner, a complete set of clubs and a bag. It isn't a bad place to start because the most important piece of advice is to learn from the start the right way to swing a golf club. It is a highly athletic movement that is to most not a natural movement.
If you want to start with name brand equipment, used golf stores (eBay, the classifieds section here, etc) would be a good place to start. You a taller than average, so I would say the ONLY consideration you should have when you are first starting out is to make sure you get clubs that are long enough, don't worry about the lie, loft, etc right now, develop a consistent swing first, and then later you will figure out the rest of that stuff.

As for the question of flex and shaft material. I would say that if you are of average physical ability and just starting out, look for regular flex clubs with steel in the irons and graphite in the hybrids and metal woods (driver, fairway woods).
post #3 of 76

Id go to Target, Wal-Mart or Dick's and get a good, cheap set of Top-Flite, Wilson or Walter Hagen clubs.  They will serve you well for a few years until you are sure that golf is something you want to do long-term and then decide to invest in a namebrand set of clubs.

post #4 of 76

Or check out www.rockbottomgolf.com.  They have some full sets at good prices as well, including a full PowerBilt set including bag for $170. PowerBilt has always been a better club than their price point would indicate.  they also have sets of more well-known names for low prices as well.

post #5 of 76

Ok, at 6'3 you are not a giant in the golf world. You may want to consider having your lie adjusted to upright by a couple of degrees. Have a look on golfclubshaftreview.com and the club length page. You will find some useful stuff there including shaft flex. 

Before going out and spending a ton on new clubs have a look on ebay and try and pick up a set of old ping eye 2 irons with upsight lies. You will be able to get them for a song and they are really great clubs for beginners and low handicap players alike. After developing your swing a little, decide what you want to spend you hard earned cash on. Best advice though, go see a good pro. Don't bother with young kids, go see a man who has had years of experience. You wont go far wrong.

Good luck.

post #6 of 76
I'm in a similar situation. I'm 6'1" and started playing in July. I bought all of my original equipment on craigslist for a fraction of the new cost. Ping I3 OS irons, white dot fit me perfectly. Cobra S3 driver, adjustable and one of the most forgiving drivers available $60. Ping Hoover stand bag $60. Putter is the only thing I bought new. Find clubs and read reviews on them before buying. Just my $.02 worth.
post #7 of 76
Ping I3's $100
post #8 of 76
Thread Starter 

O.K., thanks to all of those who have contributed here - I sincerely appreciate and value the pointers and the feedback.

 

I'd like to say a couple of things right up front to help clarify my hopes or aspirations regarding my interest-level in the game and also in terms of purchasing clubs. Some of what I'll say might aggravate the more experienced players here, because it'll invariably seem to them like I'm proposing too large of an expenditure or purchasing a level of quality far beyond what's needed for a beginning player, but I too have my views on this topic, including some directly relevant and comparable experiences with other equipment purchases over my lifetime.

 

First off, I know with great certainty that I will in-fact continue to play the game of golf on a long-term basis. I'm simply at that particular point in life now (age 61) where I need the regular physical activity, yet some of the more physical sports like surfing, tennis and hockey are beginning to tax me, big-time! Plus, I have the wife's inherent and long-term love of the game of golf as an additional motivation. So, the issue about buying 'cheap' or 'used' clubs (vs. new), simply because I might soon quit the game of golf, is a non-issue - its not gonna happen.

 

Secondly, regarding the issue of 'beginners' gear vs. 'players' gear or the overall cost likely to be incurred . . . here again, I don't have any reservations. I would much prefer to purchase 'new' over used and stick with something of a higher (non-beginner) variety or quality, so that I'm forced to learn the game (including proper stance, swing, ball strike, etc.) over time, rather than floundering for months or years with sub-standard gear, and slowly or never improving my game. There are many parallels of this concept in my life from guitars to ice skates to tennis racquets to surfboards. In my experience, if you start-off with junk, your skill level will eventually top-off at 'junk'. Conversely, if you start-off with reasonably high-grade equipment, you may suck and suck big-time for a while, but eventually, in order to take full advantage of that higher-grade gear, you're forced to improve your skills to be in-line with the quality of that gear, whether its turn-arounds on skates, fingerpicking on a guitar or swinging a racquet. Throughout my life, this has been my experience.

 

And so, I am inclined to apply these principles to the purchase of golf clubs, by slowly assembling a mixed (or custom) set of 'new' (A-/B+ level) clubs of different makes and models, and then making any changes that are necessary from there, after using them for a few months. To that end, I'm going to continue hitting the local golf shops and seeing what I can learn including getting fitted, having my swing speed confirmed, and any other unique or personal traits/characteristics that I can determine. However, many if not most brands of 'new' clubs are in very short supply locally, and for this reason, many new or returning local players, even some veteran golfers, will readily make purchases on-line without hesitation. And then, if need be, they'll have changes to those clubs made at a local shop.

 

So, here's my central question . . . what is the general consensus among the membership here on this approach for a beginning player like me? Would it be wise for me to do that? In other words, I know that I have a reasonably powerful swing (which presumably calls for a 'stiff' shaft), and I know that I'm of average club length (i.e., 38.0"-38.5" measurement from wrist crease to floor). Plus, I don't necessarily consider a $1500-$2000 purchase price for a complete set of 12-14 decent clubs to be unreasonable. So, that said, would it be considered reckless or imprudent of me to simply buy a full set of well-recognized, brand name irons on-line (right-hand, steel shaft, stiff flex), and begin using them for a few months, making whatever changes are necessary (if any) in shaft type or lie at a later date? I say this because I'm leaning heavily towards doing just that. Specifically, I'm leaning towards the purchase of a moderately priced but good-quality, adjustable driver, a decent Hybrid or two (maybe 3H/4H), and a full set of decent irons (3-PW), plus an added wedge or two (AW/SW).

 

Your thoughts on this approach? And please, feel free to rage away - I don't offend too easily. Am I stupid-crazy to go this way?

post #9 of 76
If you are going to spring for a new set of quality clubs you need to be fitted for those clubs. Problem with that is that in order to have a really proper fitting, it is best that you be more than a rank beginner and have a grooved swing. [Caveat: I've never been fit for clubs so take what I said with a grain of salt.] MEANING that you may get a new set of clubs that "fit" you and then need to make a change rather soon as you progress, so don't expect to live with those clubs forever ... Another aspect here is that clubs that will let you be competitive and enjoy the game as a beginner may come to embarass you later on. For example, one big problem beginners have is ball contact, so you should start out with a set of oversize irons -- what Golf Digest calls "super game improvement." As your handicap drops you may become rather tired of those and want to move on to irons with smaller heads, say "midsize" "game improvement" irons. If you really become proficient then you might want "players" irons. As to these classifications, see Golf Digest's annual Equipment Issue.
Edited by Ole_Tom_Morris - 4/29/13 at 7:20pm
post #10 of 76

Because you are so tall I'd definitely suggest fitting.

 

Pings might last you till you die.  Imho they have the best range of clubs and do some of the best fittings.  They will also adjust your clubs if your specs change - imho very important.  The reason why 

I like ping for you is their finish.  They look new forever.  

 

If you don't like the look of Ping, I can also suggest visiting a clubfitter who stocks Wishon.  Imho some of the best designs in golf.  

post #11 of 76
Economic considerations aside, I'd go through the following checklist.

1. What looks good to me. If I like the look of the clubs I'll want to play with them and will play better with them. To me, a lot of golf club design is weird or clunky or funky, like the "transformer" dustcatcher design of some stereos. Some clubs have a clean functional design without weird stuff being added on. For example, the Calloway Diablo forged irons look better to me than some other Calloway designs. Mizumo irons generally look good though some don't. Titleist models often look good. Taylormade R9s look pretty good. Some Clevelands are quite nice. Nike, well, I keep away from Nike on general principles but the Nike Slingshots look good to me. For Ping, elegance of design has always taken a back seat to function. I like the Pings I've hit, but the offset and steampunk look of the iron is off-putting. [Did Karsten Solheim invent steampunk? Shoulda taken out a patent.]

2. What feels good to me. Swing with them, hit balls with them, hit off center balls with them. Do the clubs hit too high or not high enough? Look at the result of hitting off the sweet spot. If you're into "working the ball," can you do it with these clubs?

3. What looks good to other people. Part of any sport and especially of golf is image and status. So you want clubs you will not have to disown before colleagues and strangers. ("What ? My clubs? Nah, some guy parked them there. Never saw them before in my life!") Not necessarily a matter of money, since a lot of pricey clubs from famous brands look weird.

4. BUT BEWARE: Don't get carried away by the status thing to the point that you get clubs you can't play with. Yes, players clubs generally have a cleaner design and give you high status, but only if you can use them well. A dude in tattered blue jeans with a partial set of rusty clubs is top dog if he can beat the socks off preppy types dressed in Nike's best playing with $1500 clubs. So stay away from blades, at least for now. Stay away from 1 irons and maybe from any irons numbered lower than 5 and fill in with woods or hybrids. And don't get caught up in a shaft pissing match. You probably don't need more than a stiff shaft and don't be embarassed to try a regular. Leave the XX and XXX to the long drive competitors.

5. Look for cavity back clubs with at least a midsize head with good manufacturer clubfitting. Don't feel obligated to buy woods, hybrids or putter of the same brand as your irons. It's mix and match. Hey! The search is part of the pleasure, no?
post #12 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by solarbear View Post

Because you are so tall I'd definitely suggest fitting.

 

Pings might last you till you die.  Imho they have the best range of clubs and do some of the best fittings.  They will also adjust your clubs if your specs change - imho very important.  The reason why 

I like ping for you is their finish.  They look new forever.  

 

If you don't like the look of Ping, I can also suggest visiting a clubfitter who stocks Wishon.  Imho some of the best designs in golf.  

Thanks Solarbear! Trust me, I took the earlier Ping recommendation under serious advisement. In fact, I did a search and found a number of used sets of Ping irons for-sale, some of which were in decent shape. However, the prices, even for "used" were in some cases almost half the price of a 'new' set of current-day irons, including some very respectable brands (e.g., TM, Mizuno, etc.). For example, I saw a 4-PW used set of Pings listed for $500 plus shipping, and I can get a 3-PW set of Mizuno MP-64's for $750 with free shipping.  I'll say this though . . . I really like the look of the Ping's and they clearly have a great reputation.

 

The other thing I'm still struggling with here (and I mentioned this above), is this business of custom fitting. I can totally see the purpose in doing so, but I don't see what good it does me to purchase a used set of clubs and pay the exorbitant shipping charges from the U.S. Mainland for such a set, knowing ahead-of-time that they'll probably need extensive modification upon their arrival based upon my 'fitting' specifications? Since the local golf shops have few (if any) complete sets of brand new irons, preferring instead to custom order everything based upon your custom fitting specs determined at their shop, how is this any different than having to go through the very same process with a set of used (Ping) clubs? In my mind, I'm having trouble reconciling these two approaches or the relative dollars involved. In other words, if a guy's going to jump through all of those hoops and deal with all of those hassles, why not just spend the additional $200-$300 and buy a new set of TM's or Mizunos on-line, and have them tailored upon arrival? Do you see what I'm saying?

post #13 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ole_Tom_Morris View Post

Economic considerations aside, I'd go through the following checklist.

1. What looks good to me. If I like the look of the clubs I'll want to play with them and will play better with them. To me, a lot of golf club design is weird or clunky or funky, like the "transformer" dustcatcher design of some stereos. Some clubs have a clean functional design without weird stuff being added on. For example, the Calloway Diablo forged irons look better to me than some other Calloway designs. Mizumo irons generally look good though some don't. Titleist models often look good. Taylormade R9s look pretty good. Some Clevelands are quite nice. Nike, well, I keep away from Nike on general principles but the Nike Slingshots look good to me. For Ping, elegance of design has always taken a back seat to function. I like the Pings I've hit, but the offset and steampunk look of the iron is off-putting. [Did Karsten Solheim invent steampunk? Shoulda taken out a patent.]

2. What feels good to me. Swing with them, hit balls with them, hit off center balls with them. Do the clubs hit too high or not high enough? Look at the result of hitting off the sweet spot. If you're into "working the ball," can you do it with these clubs?

3. What looks good to other people. Part of any sport and especially of golf is image and status. So you want clubs you will not have to disown before colleagues and strangers. ("What ? My clubs? Nah, some guy parked them there. Never saw them before in my life!") Not necessarily a matter of money, since a lot of pricey clubs from famous brands look weird.

4. BUT BEWARE: Don't get carried away by the status thing to the point that you get clubs you can't play with. Yes, players clubs generally have a cleaner design and give you high status, but only if you can use them well. A dude in tattered blue jeans with a partial set of rusty clubs is top dog if he can beat the socks off preppy types dressed in Nike's best playing with $1500 clubs. So stay away from blades, at least for now. Stay away from 1 irons and maybe from any irons numbered lower than 5 and fill in with woods or hybrids. And don't get caught up in a shaft pissing match. You probably don't need more than a stiff shaft and don't be embarassed to try a regular. Leave the XX and XXX to the long drive competitors.

5. Look for cavity back clubs with at least a midsize head with good manufacturer clubfitting. Don't feel obligated to buy woods, hybrids or putter of the same brand as your irons. It's mix and match. Hey! The search is part of the pleasure, no?

 

Many thanks, Ole Tom!

 

Let me try to answer your suggestions here, one at a time:

 

1) LOOKS: If it were up to me and appearance was the sole criteria, I would run down to the shop today without hesitation and purchase a full set of Mizuno MP-69s. They look fantastic, they swing fantastic, and despite being a relative beginner, I can even hit them fairly well, but I haven't made such a purchase because they're rated as being way beyond a "beginner" level iron.

 

2) FEEL: Here again, the Mizuno MP-64s and MP-69s quickly float to the top of the pack. I've hit balls with almost every single iron in both sets, and they both feel spectacular, with a slight edge in "feel" going to the MP-69s and a slight edge in "forgiveness" going to the MP-64s. However, my entire exposure to both sets has been strictly indoors (in a local gold shop), so I have no idea what either set might yield for me (ggod or bad) outdoors on an actual course. Some shops offer a 'no-questions-asked' 30-90 day return/exchange program or policy on certain brands, and I didn't ask about the Mizunos specifically, but if that's possible, I might just opt for that approach.

 

3) LOOKS TO OTHERS: I have no real concerns here. I'm not one who obsesses about others or what others think, and I don't play on super-prestigious courses or whatever, but I'm confident that either set of Mizunos would make the cut in this regard.

 

4) BEWARE: I've seen the term "blades" used many times in my on-line research, and I'm not quite sure what that term actually means, but yes, if I buy 'new' irons, I'm currently inclined to get a 5-PW set (steel shaft, stiff flex), with suitable 3H and 4H hybrids, and perhaps 2-3 wedges.

 

5) BRANDS & MIXING: Here again, I'm perfectly in-line with your thoughts. The preliminary research I've been doing both on-line and at the retail level, leads me to believe that most serious golfers mix and match brands based on class-specific performance (i.e., drivers vs. irons vs. wedges, etc.). And of course, everyone is going to have their personal favorites in any given class of club, which presents obvious pitfalls for the complete novice (like me), because of the inherent bias in such evaluations. However, if a guy looks real hard, and does his homework properly, I think he can gain a fairly reliable assessment of the 'better' (not necessarily the "best") drivers or irons or wedges, etc. So far, my take on things would suggest that Taylormade and perhaps Cobra are both respectable drivers and woods . . . Mizuno, Taylormade, Titleist and Ping are apparently well-recognized for their irons, and if I bought a set today, I'd probably opt for the Vokey SM4 wedges.

 

There you have it!

post #14 of 76

Getting fitted then adjust is one way to go certainly.

 

You can also order from many reputable builders and companies in your exact spec.  For example, you could  take your specs and visit golfworks and select the exact shaft, grip and head you'd like from them and they will assemble the set for $40.

 

I normally don't suggest Ping because they are retardedly expensive.  But you sounded like the sort of guy who'd be happier buying and playinng a single set for 10 years than tinkering constantly.  And becuase of the finish they use they look newish much longer.

 

An awsome value company is Wilson Staff, their ci9 and ci11 series would be worth looking at too.

 

Most of the OEM's make really solid irons,  I could find an iron from tm, cobra, cally,mizzy, adams and be perectly happy with any of them... but  driver and hybrid performance vary widely.

post #15 of 76
Have you checked out the Mizuno MX-200 or MX-300s? Aren't these for the higher handicap golfer?

A comment about buying on line and then taking to a local clubfitter. Sure, a clubfitter can swap out shafts or put on new grips. BUT do not assume they can adjust the lie angle, reason being that cast clubheads can't be bent, and that might go for some forged alloys too. Mild steel can be bent to a different lie, and can have the loft tweaked, but that is not true of many if not most of the clubs on the market.

For that matter, why buy clubs with shafts that you have to remove and discard? Simpler to use clubfitting to select your clubs' specs. And why pay a third party to do it if the seller will do the clubfitting for less? [Note: some manufacturers are not big on clubfitting. Is Cleveland's clubfitting still rudimentary?]

And -- what was that brand that was only sold through clubfitting? Are they still in bidness?

I'm always popping off and saying things I have to correct or qualify later. As in this thread. The old Ping models were definitely steampunk. Now Pings look more like other clubs. Not necessarily a good thing.
post #16 of 76
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ole_Tom_Morris View Post

1) Have you checked out the Mizuno MX-200 or MX-300s? Aren't these for the higher handicap golfer?

2) For that matter, why buy clubs with shafts that you have to remove and discard? Simpler to use clubfitting to select your clubs' specs. And why pay a third party to do it if the seller will do the clubfitting for less? [Note: some manufacturers are not big on clubfitting. Is Cleveland's clubfitting still rudimentary?]

 

1) No, to be honest, I had not looked at the MX-200/300s, and yes, I suspect those are indeed meant for someone like me of higher handicap. I just happened to like the look of the Mizzy MP-64s and particularly the MP-69s, and yet, I know that the average fitter or salesman will tell me that they're way inappropriate (overkill) for a beginner.

 

2) I'm not saying that 'new' clubs will positively need to be altered. In fact, I would have expected the opposite. In other words, right or wrong, given their high cost, I would fully expect a seriously high-quality set of clubs like the Mizuno MP-64s or MP-69s to be perfectly playable for the average golfer right outta the box. But, what I am saying is this . . . if those brand new Mizunos are not playable right outta the box, then presumably nothing else will be either, regardless of brand, regardless of whether they're new or used, right? In which case, modifications would need to be made to any set I buy. As far as shafts go, please correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't imagine that the 'stock' shafts (i.e., the one's Mizuno typically ships their MP-64/69s with), would be inferior or ill-suited for a relative beginner like me, which means that the shafts shouldn't need to be changed. In my view, this would apply to grips too. As I understand it, at least with irons, that leaves only the 'lie', and I can't conceive of someone needing to change the lie on a high-dollar set of polished chrome Mizuno MP-69s?

 

I should also add that as a beginner, I'm fully aware of what 'loft' is and its implication to the performance of a driver, wedge, etc., and this is why (for example), I've been focusing on the Cobra Amp Cell driver which has an adjustable loft. However. I must confess that I do not yet fully understand the term 'lie' and what it means to performance. I'm going to continue researching it, but I'll assume that much like 'loft', it relates somehow to the angle of trajectory, perhaps left to right (?) : shank vs. hook (?), rather than the up vs. down variable of loft. However, if so, I have no clue how clubs with serious showroom 'bling' like the MP-69s could or would be effectively altered with respect to their 'lie', without somehow doing serious damage to the club's appearance. Is it simply a matter of the positioning of the shaft-tip into the head of the club when it is glued or epoxied? No clue! It appears that the 'lie' relates to the 'length' of the shaft, rather than anything to do with angles, but I'll keep reading.

 

And thus, the learning continues.

post #17 of 76
Thread Starter 

O.K., I just did some more reading, and from what I can tell from the relevant reference tables for determining 'lie', it appears that in all likelihood, given my 6'2" height and my 38.5" wrist-to-floor measurement, I am going to need something on the order of a "3+ upright" lie adjustment from standard lie. Does that sound right?

post #18 of 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Watermark View Post

O.K., I just did some more reading, and from what I can tell from the relevant reference tables for determining 'lie', it appears that in all likelihood, given my 6'2" height and my 38.5" wrist-to-floor measurement, I am going to need something on the order of a "3+ upright" lie adjustment from standard lie. Does that sound right?


I am similarly dimensioned, and play Ping white dots +1/2"

 

I played clubs that were standard lie before and they were +1/2" and I had no trouble hitting them just as straight. 

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