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The Basics on Golf Clubs
By Frank J. Peter

Golf clubs come with various numbers on them, but what does that number mean? Well, for the most part, the number indicates the loft of a club. As a rule of thumb, the lower the number is, the lower the loft and the longer the club will be. The lower loft and longer club will result in greater distance with a loss of accuracy. This also equates to lower numbered clubs being more difficult to hit.

What makes a "set" of clubs?The rules of golf restricted a golf set to no more than 14 clubs. What makes up a given set depends on your preferences, but will generally include the following clubs:
Irons: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, PW
Woods: 1, 3, 5
and a putter.

This does not mean that you have to carry all of these clubs. For example, beginners and novice players should consider eliminating the 2 and 3 irons from their set by replacing those hard to hit irons with a 5,7 or 9 wood, preferably shallow face models. An alternative replacement that is gaining huge popularity are hybrid clubs, which are a combination of both wood and iron designs into a single club. This combo has resulted in some of the most forgiving and easiest clubs to hit to date.

Golf Clubs: Choosing the correct lie:
Lie is the angle that the hosel of the iron makes with the rest of the iron head. Generally, each iron has a hosel - this is the part of the iron that connects with the shaft - that projects out from the clubhead at standard lie. By adjusting the hosel the lie of the club or the angle that the hosel forms with the rest of the iron head can be altered to better fit a player's physical characteristics.
Lie has a great influence on the direction of the shot. The shorter the iron, the more pronounce the effect will be. Hitting the ball with an iron that is too upright (contact of club head with the ground on the heel area) will then to send the ball to the left of the target if you are a right handed golfer and vice versa for the left handed golfer. A lie angle that is too flat will have the opposite effect on the ball direction.

If you stand at address with a club and look at how the bottom of the clubhead is touching the ground you will know how your lie should be adjusted. If the middle bottom of the clubhead is on the ground then the lie of the club is perfect. If the toe of the club is pointing up in the air and the heel of the club is on the ground then this means that your current lie is too upright and needs to be made flatter. If the heel of the club is in the air and the toe is on the ground then the club is too flat and needs to be made more upright.

Shorter players generally prefer a flatter lie (the hosel bent down) to adjust for the fact that their arms are closer to the ground. Taller players generally prefer a more upright lie (the hosel bent up) to help them adjust for their arms and torso being higher up.

Golf Clubs: Choosing the correct loft:
Loft is the angle formed by the centre of the shaft and the clubface. In general, loft has the most effect on the launch angle of the ball flight thus having the greatest influence on the trajectory of the ball. The slower speed swingers (ladies, seniors and some regular flex players) need higher lofted driving clubs. Increased loft will allow a better launch angle, higher trajectory, greater carry, thus more distance! This may be a surprise to a lot of long time players who have always thought less loft, more distance. Many regular and senior flex players have fallen prey to the ProLine model hype and purchased $300.00+ drivers at 10 or less degrees, only to find they were hard to get airborn and produced low line drives. On the other hand, faster speed swingers do require less loft to obtain maximum distance.

Golf Clubs: Choosing the correct shaft:
The most important part of the golf club is by far the shaft, and one of the most important aspects of the shaft is the shaft flex. Flex refers to the stiffness of the shaft. If you are in a golf shop and waggle various golf clubs you will feel that some shafts are stiffer than others. The stronger a player is, the stiffer the shaft that he or she wants.

The stronger a shaft the less flexible it is. When a player swings a club the clubhead acts as a weight at the end of the club and causes the shaft to bend. On the downswing the player causes the shaft to bend as he or she throws the clubhead at the ball. If a shaft is too flexible and is bending too much then it becomes impossible for the player to control where the ball is going to go. The bend in the shaft is where much of the power is generated in the shot. If the shaft doesn't flex enough then the shot loses power and accuracy is affected. Taken together you want to pick a shaft that gives you the right amount of flex. In general the stiffer the flex of a shaft the more accurate the shot, but the less far it goes. As a beginner you should also keep in mind that a shaft that is too stiff can result in serious injury.

Different shaft manufacturers have differences in their specifications of flex. One manufacturerís Amateur Flex might be anotherís Regular Flex. Generally, the flex are measured as (L) for light flex, (A) for amateur flex, (R) for regular flex, (S) for stiff flex and (XS) for extra stiff.

Golf Clubs: Choosing the correct shaft length:
It is recommended that all golfers should use standard length clubs unless he or she is particularly short or tall. Standard length clubs allow players to hit the ball on center a higher percentage of the time, thus increasing distance and accuracy. In recent years, light weight Titanium driver heads and Ultralight graphite shafts have extended driver playing lengths from a standard 43-431/2" to 44-46". This is good news and bad news. The good news is, when you increase length, you will increase distance. The longer the club, the more club head speed generated, thus more distance. The bad news is, the longer the club the more difficult it is to control, thus less accuracy. To put this into perspective you may want to consider the following: A driver hit on center at 43" = 250 yds. 43 1/2"= 262 yds. 44" = 270 yds. 44 1/2" = 275 yds. 45" = 275-280 yds.

As you can see a significant increase in distance is achieved up to 44". After 44", distance increases only a minimal amount. Conclusion - It is not worth sacrificing accuracy for the minimal amount of distance gained past 44". Keep driver playing lengths to 44" or less.

For more information on this and related topics please visit LearnAboutGolf.comís Golf tips and lessons for Beginners .

© Copyright 2006 by Frank J. Peter

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