Why are there so many golf clubs in a set and what do they do?

According to The Rules of Golf, we are allowed to carry up to a maximum of 14 clubs in the bag during a round of golf, although there is no rule that pertains to using fewer clubs. The purpose of having multiple clubs has to do with the distance each are hit from as each club has a different loft or angle to the face to provide a higher or lower trajectory. In
addition each club is made at various lengths which also has an influence on the overall distance you can hit the ball. On a regulation sized golf course there will be times that you are going to need all of the clubs in your bag in order to effectively hit the ball from all the possible lies and positions you may encounter that day. However, some days you may use only half of them.

Driver (1)
This is also referred to as a tee club because this is the one club that is designed to be hit with the ball elevated off the ground with a tee. This club is designed to hit the ball the longest as the driver has the lowest loft and longest in length. Drivers range in loft from 7.5° to 15°. The average lofts for men range from 10° – 12°, ladies 12 – 15°, while touring professionals and long drive competitors below 10°. The driver is a single club, no more than one is needed.

Fairway Woods (2-4)
These clubs are designed to be hit from long distances away on approach shots for par 4 and 5’s. These can be played off a tee too, but normally they will be played off of the fairway or out of the rough. Most golfers carry at least 2 fairway woods, usually the #3 and 5-woods, but higher lofted versions are available to replace irons to be hit from a much shorter distance, especially for lady and senior male golfers who enjoy the addition of #7 and 9-woods.

Irons (3-7)
Irons are the thin, elongated clubs in the bag. These are used to hit from the intermediate lengths between that of fairway woods and wedges. These are designed to be hit off the ground and have varied loft angles to hit the ball different lengths. The lower lofted or lower numbered clubs like the #3 and 4-irons will hit the ball the furthest of the irons, but may be more difficult to get the ball airborne and hit toward your target. The mid-lofted irons are the #5, 6, and 7-irons, while scoring irons or the shortest hitting of the irons, #8 and 9, are the easiest to hit. It used to be customary that all golfers would carry the 3 through 9 irons, but with the advent of hybrids (see below), that is not the case anymore.

Hybrids (0-3)
Alternatives to irons, these clubs look like a cross between irons and mini metal woods. These are designed to replace often hard-to-hit irons in the bag. As a beginner, consider not even getting a 3, 4 or even 5-iron and look at adding a hybrid or two.

Wedges (2-4)
If you are starting out, you are bound to miss a lot of greens on approach shots and require you to get the ball close to the hole from around the green. Wedges are the highest lofted and highest hitting clubs in the bag and designed to go the shortest distance to have the ability to stop rolling and land close to the hole. Wedges are sometimes hit as full shots, but many times as less than full finesse shots as a way to land the ball softly. One particular model, the sand wedge, was designed specifically to hit the sand trap, but you will find this club useful on a number of other shots such as from the deep rough around the green. The other wedges, a PW or pitching wedge is the club that comes right after the 9-iron and is an important addition to any bag. There is also a GW or gap wedge which bridges the gap in distance from the PW to the SW. A LW or lob wedge has the highest loft and goes the shortest distance on full shots of any club in the bag. This particular club will be more beneficial to higher skill level golfers as many beginners will end up hitting the ball short of their target with this club.

Putter (1)
Approximately 40% of all your shots during a round will be encountered on the green, so the putter is considered the single-most important club in the bag and only one is truly necessary to carry. Putters come in all shapes and sizes and are designed to be specifically on the short grass of the green.

Chipper (0-1)
This is a club designed to be hit short distances around the green and can be considered a lofted putter as the stroke that is used is similar to it. This is not a club that you will find in many golfers bag, but is listed as some golfers might find this to be useful utility-type club. Over time, golfers will accumulate a collection of clubs in their garage or basement that they do not use anymore for a variety of reasons. Starting out playing can be intimidating with all the different choices available. To purchase some sets, you may be forced to buy the full compliment of clubs instead of picking or choosing like you can on Hireko’s website. But once you start playing more often you will get a feel of what type of clubs you hit better than others. Some golfers will find wider soled fairway woods to their liking more so than irons. You may end up trying a friend’s or fellow player driver, hybrid, putter, etc and find it better than the clubs in your bag. Regardless, finding the right clubs for you will become an evolving process.

Jeff Summitt
Hireko Technical Director