You don't! And that's the problem, isn't it? Beginners to golf haven't yet formed opinions about golf club manufacturers, haven't identified favorite companies and clubs.
Let's make one point very clear: As a beginner, you don't need a top-of-the-line set of clubs. You don't even need a mid-market set. You can start out in golf just fine with a (relatively) inexpensive set of golf clubs, and they don't have to be from one of the major brands (Titleist, TaylorMade, Ping, etc.).
But: That's not your thinking. You want a nice set from a major brand, that's what this article is about.
So if that's what you want, let's return to the opening question: As a beginner, how do you settle on which nice set from a major brand to buy?
Will you even be able to tell the difference between major brands?The differences between golf clubs from the major brands are often subtle, sometimes even non-existent (except for cosmetics). As a beginner you probably won't be able to tell the difference between the technologies underlaying various golf sets.
So when shopping, focus on picking up clubs from different sets made by different brands and noticing how they feel in your hands, their weightiness, your comfort holding them. Notice the different looks, hold the clubs as if you are preparing to hit a ball, and note what appeals to your eye in the address position and what doesn't.
In the end, since you don't have an advanced game with which to test various clubs and sort out the nuances of different sets, focus on clubs that you simply find appealing: you like the feel of the clubs in your hands, you like the look of the clubs at address.
Liking the way a golf club feels in your hands is a necessity. Liking the way it looks is a nice bonus. Both will help you feel more confident playing shots with that club.
Get to know your friendly, neighborhood golf pro shopIf you live in a city of any size, you'll probably have access to multiple off-course pro shops (that is, golf shops that are not part of a golf course).
Get to know that shop and the people who work there. Visit with the staff members who greet you when you enter, and tell them your situation: You're a beginner, but you want to start out with a nice set of name-brand clubs. Make sure they understand just how new to the game you are - a complete novice? taken a few lessons? played a few rounds but want to get more serious?
Ask them to show you the "super game-improvement" clubs (this segment of golf clubs uses technology and design features to help minimize the bad effects of beginner and rough-around-the-edges golf swings) and describe the differences between the major brands' offerings to you.
Ask their opinions. Hold the clubs in your hands. If the shop has a swing bay, make some swings and see how each club feels.
Should I care which clubs the pros are playing?No. The tour pros are playing clubs built for great golfers, clubs that you, as a beginner, probably won't ever be good enough to play. (Well, of course you could play them, they just won't do your game any good.)
The pros are good enough to play any golf club and shoot low; also, some of their equipment decisions are based solely or in part on which manufacturer is willing to pay them the most.
A few more pointers
- Ask around. Your friends who golf probably have some strong opinions on which companies make the best clubs.
- Watch your fellow golfers on the course. When a cart passes by, take a quick glance in the bags. Get an idea of what others on the course are playing.
- Comparison shop. You might want Brand A, but discover that Brand B
is much less expensive. Both have good reputations. Which do you buy? If you're like most people, Brand B.
- Read golf club reviews. There are many online sources these days. And there are multiple golf magazines that offer advice about and reviews of golf clubs.
- Ask your friendly local golf pro. Just keep in mind that many of your friendly local golf pros may have ties to certain manufacturers.
- Find a demo day that's coming up in your area and make plans to attend.
- The value of a clubfitting for a beginning golfer is debatable, but certainly once you've achieved some consistency in your game a clubfitting is a good idea.
Always keep in mind that you don't have to have bright, shiny, fancy, expensive golf clubs as a beginner. A cheap set, even a used set, will do just fine for most beginners. See Before You Buy Your First Set of Golf Clubs for more.
Finally, understand that as you gain experience in golf, you will probably begin to form strong opinions about which brands and types of golf clubs are best for your game. Most golfers do. And those opinions will guide you in any future purchases.
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