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What Gear You Need To Start Playing Golf
If you're looking to start playing golf you've come to the right place. Below is a list of the essential gear you need to start playing golf and, most importantly, enjoying the game as much as possible.
However, before you even start considering buying what we've listed below, a great and affordable way to get into the game is by going to your local driving range. A medium bucket of balls rarely costs a lot and most will have clubs there you can rent for free. Once you've got a feel for it and are feeling excited and confident to get out on the course, then this list will cover what you need to do next. If you do want some golf gear inspiration, make sure you click through to our buying guides on each section we list below.
WATCH: What Gear You Need To Start Playing Golf
First of all is, of course, golf clubs (opens in new tab). The maximum number of clubs you are allowed to carry at one time is 14 - but you don’t need to get all 14 to start. The best way to start is with a half set or a package set designed specifically for beginners (opens in new tab). A set of four irons - a 3, 5, 7, 9 iron for example - accompanied by a couple of wedges and a putter will be more than enough to get you started on a golf course. Add to this a driver, and you'll be ready to go.
Certainly, as you play more and more, you might find the gaps between these irons frustrating and that is when you’ll be ready to buy a full set (opens in new tab).
When entering the market for your first full set, it's important to know you don’t have to instantly go for new products because there is a great second hand market. Manufacturers produce new golf clubs every year, so clubs that are one, two or even three years old are still very good and come at a fraction of the price for a brand new set.
Second hand websites like Golf Bidder have a vast range of second hand products at a great price. The most important thing to be aware of when buying second hand is that the clubs haven’t been custom fit to someone with different specifications to you. If you are an average height golfer, you don’t want to be picking up a used set of clubs that were made for a 6ft 5” golfer. Second hand club sellers will note down if a club is longer, shorter or has had its lie angle drastically changed so keep an eye out.
It's also important to select the right kind of iron. Whilst the bladed irons (opens in new tab) sat in Rory McIlroy’s bag might look the part, they’re certainly not for golfers just starting. Look to purchase a game improvement set of irons (opens in new tab) with a cavity back for the most help possible to get the most enjoyment out of the game.
Next, you’re going to need to find the best golf bag (opens in new tab) to put your new clubs in. There’s a little variety to look out for in the market for which bag will suit you the best. A stand bag (opens in new tab) is the easiest and most basic option to get started. It comes with two straps so you can carry it on your back and stands up on its own when put down.
If you think you’re going to use a cart (opens in new tab) to get around the golf course, you can get a cart bag (opens in new tab) that exclusively sits on a cart. These bags are a lot bulkier than stand bags so be sure you are going to use a cart, as these bags are very awkward to carry around if you don’t. Some manufacturers make bags that are a hybrid of the two - they are stand bags that fit flush onto trolleys. If you think you’ll do a mix of carrying and using a cart these are great options that mean you have one bag for every occasion.
If you are starting with a half-set as we recommended earlier, a pencil bag (opens in new tab) is a great option for something very lightweight and easy to use that will easily fit six or seven clubs. Pencil bags usually come at lower price points as well, offering good value if you just want a small, lightweight bag.
When it comes to what gear you need to start playing golf - of course, you'll need some golf balls! There are quite a few options here too. If you’re serious about the game, you can pay up to $50 for a dozen of the best golf balls (opens in new tab). However, if you’re just starting out, there’s no real need to pay a lot for golf balls and you’ll hardly notice the difference in a cheaper dozen (opens in new tab).
There’s two great options away from premium balls (opens in new tab) for a golfer just starting out. Firstly, you can go for a cheaper, new ball that is at the lower end of the price spectrum. Secondly, buying lake balls is a great way to get cheap golf balls for a fraction of the price. These are golf balls that have been lost, found again and then reconditioned, making them ideal for beginners looking to get into the game.
If you are just starting out at the driving range, trainers will do the job and you won’t require a specialist shoe just yet. When you venture out onto the golf course however, the best golf shoes (opens in new tab) are essential pieces of kit. Once you are out hitting on the grass and varying lies, you’ll need the performance and comfort (opens in new tab) benefits that come from a good golf shoe.
There are a couple of options here too. Spikeless golf shoes (opens in new tab) are brilliant in the summer and are comfortable to wear off the golf course too. Alternatively, you can go for spiked shoes (opens in new tab) - often soft cleats in modern shoes - that provide a bit more traction and are a bit more traditional when you think of an archetypal golf shoe.
Modern golf shoes also come in lots of different designs too. Gone are the days where the classic brogue was the only option and now you can even get a Jordan (opens in new tab) basketball shoe in a golf version. We should also mention that most brands offer not just premium models, but also shoes that come with lower price points. For example adidas has the Tour 360 22 (opens in new tab), all the way down to the EQT (opens in new tab) and both are excellent.
So it is just a question of knowing how much you want to spend on a pair of golf shoes, because whatever your budget, there will be a model for you.
As you start out, a smart pair of pants (opens in new tab) and a polo shirt (opens in new tab) do a sufficient job at making sure you look the part on the golf course. As with everything in this list, as you start playing more and getting better, you're going to want some clothing that is more golf specific.
There are plenty of performance benefits from proper golf clothing. Jackets (opens in new tab) that will keep you warm and dry in inclement weather and polos that will keep you cool will help you focus on your game and not the weather around you.
Finally for apparel it is the all important glove (opens in new tab). You wear this throughout the round on the opposite hand to how you play - so if you are right handed, wear it on your left hand and vice versa for left handers. If you are new to golf this certainly feels a bit strange to start out but there is a marked difference to how easy it is to grip the club when you are wearing a glove. Again, there are many options in the glove market from cheaper synthetic gloves, to full leather gloves. If you are just starting out, a synthetic glove will do a perfectly good job.
One final point to make on apparel and gloves, is that because of how many different brands and models there are on the market, you can always find a good deal somewhere so it is a case of scouting around on golf retailers, and of course reading our buyer's guides.
Now you’ve got all the big essentials to get started, there are a few smaller accessories (opens in new tab) to put in the bag that will make playing the game that bit easier and more enjoyable.
Firstly, golf tees (opens in new tab). There are loads of different sizes of tees and they are often made from either wood or plastic. You’ll be using these at the start of every hole to tee off with and it's important to have a variety of sizes in the bag to give you the option to hit a range of clubs from the tee box. Longer tees will be used when you hit drivers and these will help you get the ball in the air and shorter tees will be used to hit irons off the tee if you are playing a short par 3.
Secondly, a marker pen. When you are playing you should always mark your balls with an individual and easily recognizable mark so if your ball does end up next to another ball, you can easily identify which is yours.
Finally, a pitch mark repairer. These are used to repair the indents you make in the green where the ball has landed. There’s nothing worse for a golfer than putting on an uneven putting surface so repairing these indentations in the greens helps your fellow golfers out and keeps the greens in good condition for everyone to use.
Dan is a Staff Writer and has been with the Golf Monthly team since early 2021. Dan graduated with a Masters in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and primarily looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides on the website. Dan was a custom fit specialist at American Golf for two years and has brought his expertise in golf equipment to a huge range of buyer's guides and reviews on the website. A left handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 9.8 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. His golfing highlight is shooting 76 at Essendon Golf Club on his first ever round with his Golf Monthly colleagues. Dan also runs his own cricket podcast and website in his spare time.
Dan is currently playing:
Driver: Ping G425 Max
Fairway: Ping G425 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade Rocketballz
Irons: Ping i59 (4-PW)
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro
Putter: Wilson Staff Infinite Buckingham
Ball: TaylorMade TP5 Pix
- Sam TremlettSenior Staff Writer
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