Golf Monthly Technical Editor Joel Tadman discusses the factors you need to think about when deciding what is the perfect time to buy a new set of golf clubs
We Brits can be a stubborn lot. Not only will we insist our grips worn down to the metal are perfectly fine, but the treacherous winter weather isn’t enough to deter us from our weekend tee time. Consequently, it can be difficult to know when the best time to buy new clubs actually is. Obviously there is a financial implication, but just as important is getting the most from your new sticks as quickly as possible. So just when is the best time to bite the bullet and succumb to the lure of modern technology? Here are some factors to consider:
During or before a series of full swing lessons is probably the worst time to buy new clubs. Depending on how much you practise – when you can enforce the changes correctly – your posture, stance and swing plane, among other parameters, are stuck in the transition from old, limited player to new, improved golfer.
Therefore, the optimum spec for your game can’t be known until these changes are ingrained. If you aren’t having lessons and go for a club fitting, the pro might offer some swing changes to help you hit the ball better (the club can only do so much).
This is no bad thing, as the pro should be able to accommodate these changes, if you wish, in your new set. Upgrading your kit after your lessons will also help to enforce your new swing. If you slide back into your old habits, your shots may get worse because your clubs are no longer suited to you.
We’ve all been there. Just when you thought your driving couldn’t get any worse, a heavily toed drive flies off the first tee, narrowly missing the three-ball putting out on the 6th green. “I’ve had enough of this driver,” you rant angrily, forgetting all your good memories and with no consideration that the bloke holding it could be at fault.
But in fairness, a new club can reinvigorate your passion for the game, and providing you get it custom fitted, the modern technology should offer you something your old driver didn’t.
You also need to consider when you actually want to be playing your best golf as new clubs can take a while to get used to. From experience, it can take a minimum of four rounds to feel completely comfortable. For most, it will probably be around April as the competition schedule moves into full swing and presents an opportunity to get a nice handicap cut. You can then enjoy the rest of the year without fearing the buffer zone.
For others, it will be the club championship, normally held in the middle of summer. Whenever it is for you, logic would suggest it’s not advisable to make wholesale bag changes the day before the biggest event on your golfing calendar.
Common sense would dictate that there’s little point in buying a new set of clubs in late autumn when the season is drawing to a close and the amount of golf played, for most, decreases. That said, this is the time of year many new products are being launched, and if you drop some well-placed hints, you might just get to unwrap something special on Christmas morning. I suggest leaving Golf Monthly’s Gear News pages open with your potential new toy circled.
It’s not just the urge to change clubs for the sake of changing that should prompt a shuffle around of the gear in your bag. Some equipment simply has a shorter lifespan. Wedges, for example, are more frequently used and the grooves will wear out more quickly than on your irons. This means any backspin your short game had will start to disappear a year or so after you bought them.
Your grips should also be replaced at least every year to help maintain feel and control of the club. Furthermore, ageing grooves on your irons can cause the ball to travel further than expected from the rough, so if yours are looking a little tired, it could be time for an upgrade.
While it’s hard for me to offer the perfect answer (I haven’t bought a golf club for a while) I would suggest there are two months of the year best suited to buying new clubs – October and March. The former to give you time to get used to them over the winter, and the latter to accommodate any winter coaching while still offering enough time to peak for the season’s first medal.
Joel Tadman is Golf Monthly technical editor