Golf Equipment & Gear Buying Guide
Welcome to the Golfballs.com Golf Equipment & Gear Buying Guide! Here you will find answers to common questions that many golfers have when choosing from the vast selection of different golf equipment out there. This guide should help you to understand the differences in technology to find the right fit for your golf game.
Choosing the Right Golf Balls
topWhat golf ball is right for me?
- Choose a ball that offers you the greatest balance of distance and short-game control, and one that also fits within your budget. Understand that much of what goes into choosing a golf ball is based on feel, and feel can only be determined through play and practice.
- Playing with several brands and ball types — 2-piece balls and multi-layer or "Tour" balls — will help you decide which ball is right for you. Cost can also be a factor. Many 2-piece balls are priced at half the cost of multi-layer balls.
topWhat kinds of golf balls are better for slow swing speeds? Fast swing speeds?
- For slower swingers with swing speeds less than 90 mph, a lower compression ball will usually fly further off the tee and will feel less harsh at impact.
For higher swing speeds - particularly swings over 105 mph - lower compression balls often feel too soft, resulting in a spongy feeling at impact. High swing speed players tend to select higher compression balls, with most preferring multi-layer, tour- caliber balls.
topShould I get a golf ball with long distance or high spin?
For a lower swing speed player who struggles for distance, a ball designed for distance can help the player attain distance off the tee, though short game control is reduced.
Golfers with plenty of distance but who struggle with control around the greens should consider a pricier, higher-spinning ball to optimize their ability to score.
topWhat should I expect to pay for recreational and Tour-level performance golf balls? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
2-piece balls (sometimes called recreational or game-improvement balls), can be purchased from $15 to $25 per dozen, whereas tour-level balls will set you back anywhere from $30 to $50 per dozen.
The advantage of tour-level golf balls is the combination of control, distance, and feel, three core attributes sought by professionals and top amateurs. The disadvantage is that some Tour-level balls will feel harsh or "rock-like" to players with slower swing speeds.
- The advantage of 2-piece balls is maximum distance for beginning golfers and for players with lower swing speeds. The disadvantage is reduced spin and control on iron shots and reduced feel in the short game.
topWhat is the difference between a 2-piece ball and a multi-layer ball?
A 2-piece ball, consisting of a solid rubber core and a firm outer layer, will fly straighter but spin less than a multi-layer ball. The simplicity in design offers the golfer maximum distance at the expense of short-game spin and control. Many beginning golfers and higher handicap players choose 2-piece balls for their combination of durability and low price.
The "middle ground" in golf balls is now the 3-piece ball, which offer nearly all the distance of the 2-piece balls, combined with a spin rate higher than the 2-piece but lower than tour-caliber 4-piece and 5-piece balls.
A multi-layer ball — such as a 4- or 5-piece ball — contains a thin outer layer, often made of urethane, a soft material that provides plenty of short-game spin by allowing the club face to "grab" the ball. The intermediate layer(s) between the core and outer layer allow more spin and control on well-struck iron shots, while the core itself will still compress for driver shots by high swing speed players.
topWhat makes a golf ball legal? (PGA tour guidelines, etc.)
- A conforming golf ball's diameter cannot exceed 1.680 inches, and the ball's weight cannot be greater than 1.620 ounces.
- The ball must be spherically symmetrical and cannot exceed the initial velocity limits set by the USGA. The PGA Tour utilizes USGA guidelines for determining legal golf balls for competition.
Choosing the Right Golf Clubs
topWhich golf clubs are right for me?
- You want to choose golf clubs that fit you in terms of length, loft, lie, and shaft configuration. If you are new to the game, a good way to sample clubs before buying is to try various models at a driving range or golf store, and also by attending a "demo day" in your area. These are typically one-day events hosted by golf equipment manufacturers.
- Getting "fitted" for clubs is another popular option. Here you pay for an hour of time at a golf store or pro shop in order to gauge factors such as your club's optimum length and lie (angle of club's sole to the ground at address), factors that give you the best opportunity to achieve accuracy and solid impact. During a fitting, your swing speed will also be measured, as this determines which shaft flex and shaft weight best suits your swing.
topWhen choosing a driver, which shaft flex should I choose? (regular, stiff, x-stiff, senior?)
- The goal should be to select a shaft flex that will help you attain the most efficient combination of launch angle, distance, and accuracy. Two extremely important factors are your swing speed and your tempo. Generally, faster swing speeds require stiffer shafts. Fast tempo players tend to select shafts that "load" and "kick" more quickly, whereas slower tempo players often benefit more from a shaft that loads (flexes) more slowly.
- Players with swing speeds between 85-90 mph (typical of beginning male amateurs and many senior players) will tend to select a regular flex shaft. The middle ground between regular and stiff lies generally in the range of 90-95 mph swing speeds. Fortunately, manufacturers today produce shafts that are considered a "weak stiff" or a "strong regular", and offer a wide variety of shafts that allow a more customized fitting.
- Players with swing speeds between 95-100 mph tend to gravitate towards stiff shafts, with 105 mph being the point at which some players begin to employ x-stiff (extra stiff) shafts, particularly in their drivers. Players with swing speeds above 105 mph — most PGA Tour players fall in the range of 108-120 mph — find that the x-stiff shafts not only narrow their shot dispersion, but also help to achieve a more penetrating ball flight, particularly with the irons.
topWhat are "game improvement" irons?
- "Game improvement" irons consist of the largest category of iron sets on the market and golfers typically have their pick from a wide range of manufacturers and configurations. These irons will typically be "mid-sized" with a more traditional appeal. Game improvement-level irons are generally of neutral-bias. These types of irons are for those that can control his/her ball flight with greater consistency of the novice-level player.
- "Super game improvement irons" or "entry-level" irons incorporate a player of moderate ability and need more help shaping their shots. Typically, super game improvement irons are draw-biased.
topWhat are the areas that can be adjusted in an adjustable driver?
- Typically, the three areas of adjustment in a driver are the face angle, loft and ball flight. Adjusting the face angle helps you better control the direction of your golf shots. Adjusting the loft gives you greater influence over you launch angle (the angle in which the ball releases off the club) and spin-rate (how fast the ball spins off impact). Finally, adjusting the ball flight will help you to fade or draw the golf ball.
topIs club adjustability (face angle, loft, ball flight bias) important in my decision?
- First understand that no amount of club adjustment can cure your swing flaws. However, recent innovations in club technology allow drivers, fairway metals, and hybrids to be adjusted to suit or counteract a player's swing tendencies. If a player tends to hit very high tee shots, he or she may want to lower the loft on their driver.
- Too low of a tee ball will require loft to be added. If, however, the player tends to hook the ball, the face angle can be opened, a tweak which makes it more difficult to impart hook spin to the ball. The opposite is true for a slicer: closing the face angle will counteract slice spin.
- If you are considering buying an adjustable club, it is probably wise to begin with a driver. Since the driver has the lowest amount of loft of any club besides your putter, sidespin is maximized on miss-hits, therefore some adjustment to the clubhead will often help to straighten out those all-important tee shots.
topAre hybrids a good choice for me?
- Understand that a hybrid will get the ball up in the air more easily than a long iron (3-, 4-, or 5-iron), with the added benefit of being more forgiving. Hybrid clubs work well from the tee (particularly "tight" driving holes), as well as from the fairway, rough, and even from fairway bunkers. More than half of PGA Tour professionals " and an even larger percentage of LPGA pros " now carry hybrids because of their versatility and ease of use.
topWhat about wedges? Are 3 wedges enough, or do I need 4?
- Because wedges, along with your putter, are your primary scoring clubs inside of 120 yards, you need to carry the number of wedges that give you the best opportunity to stop your ball within one-putt range. If the pitching wedge (PW) that comes with your set has 48° of loft, then a gap wedge (GW) of 52° or 53°, plus a sand wedge or lob wedge of 56°-58° should be all you need.
- If, however, your PW is 45° or 46°, then you may benefit by adding 50°, 54°, and 58° wedges in order to assure consistent 4° gaps between each wedge. Keep in mind that the wedge game is primarily one of feel, and the best way to determine if three wedges is enough, is to practice and play with three to see if you can cover all distances comfortably before you consider adding a fourth.
topWhat is "bounce" when looking at wedges?
- Bounce is defined as the curved edge of a golf iron or wedge that allows the club to bounce off of the bottoming surface without snagging. Bounce is mainly used when selecting wedges and is generally offered in low, medium, and high options.
topWhat is the difference between low, medium and high bounces? How does it affect me?
- Low bounce (0-10°) is ideal for shots from tighter lies and firmer turf conditions. Generally with a narrow sole width, the leading edge of the blade is closer to the ground making for cleaner contact from this lie. Using a low bounce wedge from heavy rough or soft bunkers increases the probability of hitting the shot "fat" resulting in a shorter distance traveled with low amounts of spin.
- Medium bounce or standard bounce (10-16°) as determined by the club manufacturers, are the best for all around use. Wedges with this bounce option are usually more versatile for use in a variety of lies and are easier open the club face for high lob or "flop" shots.
- High bounce wedges (16-18°) are best for use out of soft surfaces (heavier rough and sand). The combination of a wider flange and a lower trailing edge prevent the club from digging to create a smoother gliding response along the ground. Using a high bounce wedge from a tighter lie brings a higher probability of "thinning" the shot resulting in a very low launching shot with uncontrollable distance.
topHow do I select the right putter?
- Putter length is determined by a players' height and wing span. To be in the appropriate position, the players leading or dominant eye should be directly over the ball at address. If you are looking down at the heel, the putter is too long. If you are looking down at the toe, the putter is too short. When looking at a putting stroke, there are typically 3 types: slight arc, straight and strong arc.
- The most common is the "slight arc" which is when the putter is taken back slightly open and followed through slightly closed. The other two putting styles are "straight" which is a straight back and through style most commonly using a "face-balanced" putter, while a player with a "strong arc" will use a putter that is primarily weighted in the heel. This putting technique is the most difficult to control alignment while the straight technique is more difficult to control speed and distance.
- Realize that most golf stores offer customers access to an indoor putting green surrounded by various models of putters. You will do well to visit a store and experiment before you make your choice. After all, in a typical round of golf, your putter is used for at least 40% of your strokes!
Choosing the Right Golf Bags
topWhat are my options when choosing a golf bag?
- The moment you enter a golf store to shop for a golf bag, the first thing you'll notice is the variation in girth and weight. Like the drink offerings at Starbucks, golf bags come in three main sizes and styles: carry, cart, and staff bag. Which one you choose should be based on how you prefer to play the game: riding in a cart, carrying the bag yourself or pulling a cart.
topWhat are the main advantages of a carry (sometimes called stand) bag?
- Carry bags are designed for lightweight use and ease of carry. If you are planning to primarily walk the course, carry bags are the way to go. These bags are the smallest in width and crafted of the lightest materials, and depending on the model, have multiple storage pouches to store balls, gloves, etc. Many players buy a carry bag that matches their brand of clubs.
- Most carry bags these days have stands integrated into them, however, there are still some traditional carry bags out there that you simply lie on the ground in between shots. But for the most part, the terms "carry bag" and "stand bag" are used interchangeably. Stand bags feature a pair of fold-out legs that extend to form a tripod with the bag itself. In addition, most come in single-strap or double-strap configurations for comfort while walking the course. If you're susceptible to back problems, it's best to avoid single-strap bags, as they place more strain on the back.
topIs a cart bag a good choice for me?
- The middle ground in golf bags are known as cart bags. These bags are smaller than staff bags but wider than carry bags. They have ample room for storage and fit well on the back of a golf cart, hence the name. Because bag weight is not a concern for the golfer who rides, cart bags are constructed of sturdier materials than their lightweight cousin, the carry bag. For golfers who prefer to walk but not carry their bag, cart bags also partner well with a pull cart.
topWho should consider using a staff bag?
- Staff bags, sometimes known as "tour bags", are the largest golf bags available and are the ones used by PGA Tour pros. Staff bags are often made of leather and other heavy materials, have several deep pockets for storing extra equipment such as shoes and rain gear, and nearly always sport the name and logo of a golf manufacturer. Few amateurs utilize staff bags in everyday play, as these bags are quite heavy and may even be so large as to not fit well on a golf cart.
Choosing the Right Golf Shoe
topWhat should I know before purchasing a pair of golf shoes?
- If you haven't bought golf shoes in a while, you should know that in an effort to protect fragile putting surfaces, most golf courses have banned metal spikes. This caused the golf shoe industry to ramp production of shoes fashioned with rubber spikes, and also shoes with no spikes at all, just a rubberized, ribbed surface across the sole. Though most golf shoes still sport a traditional design and are available in various widths from narrow to extra-wide, many new styles have entered the marketplace, with some manufactured from lightweight materials and sporting a more casual, sneaker-like appearance.
topShould I buy golf shoes with spikes or go spikeless golf shoes?
- Since the role of spikes is to promote stability in the golf swing, the harder you swing the more prone you are to destabilizing your body. For this reason, the rubber spiked shoes are a good choice for hard swingers, although there are exceptions, even on the professional tours. Many Tour players feel that spiked shoes provide more stability for them on the course, due to their ability to penetrate more of the ground during swing.
- Some players like the spikeless shoes because they claim these shoes are not only more comfortable to walk in but also seem to grip the ground throughout the length of the sole, instead of just a heel/toe grip offered with spiked shoes. Spikeless shoes are also easier to walk in on sidewalks, parking lots, or other hard surfaces and many wear them casually outside of the golf course due to their comfort, style and many times, sneaker-like appearance. An additional benefit of going spikeless is that the golfers playing behind you will appreciate the fact that you leave fewer marks on the putting greens.
- As with any shoe purchase, comfort and ease of walking are also of prime importance. Some golf shops may even allow you to hit into their practice net while trying on a pair of shoes. If they will accommodate you in this way, try them out!
topAre there any disadvantages to owning spikeless golf shoes?
- When hitting a golf shot from a slope or upon wet grass (or both), spikeless shoes can be less stable than spiked shoes.
- While the useful life of spikeless shoes is similar — and sometimes better — than shoes with spikes, the spikeless shoes do tend to collect lots of grass clippings and dirt in between the ribs. So you'll need some type of stiff bristled brush to clean the shoes at regular intervals.
topWhat about specialty shoes like all-weather and customized golf shoes?
- There are lines of shoes that undergo a treatment for moisture resistance, and if your area has an abundance of wet days, these are a good choice. The same goes for golfers who play on very moist courses. DryJoy — a division of FootJoy — offers all-weather golf shoes, as do Adidas and Nike. Also, custom colors and logos are available if the golfer chooses to order through the FootJoy MyJoys golf shoe program.
topHow do I best maintain my golf shoes?
- First, never leave your shoes wet or moist in the trunk of your car. If constructed of leather, they can get dry and brittle, which will make for less comfort your next time out. And if you go with spiked shoes, avoid walking on sidewalks and pavement in order to prolong the life of your spikes.