This guide is primarily to help new golfers and people understand what they need to look for when buying golf clubs and golf related equipment.
Just a little tip first off - If you are new to golf, and you are frustrated with hitting an occasional great shot, then suddenly hitting a lot of VERY ordinary shots, try this... Go out onto a golf course and tee the ball up (stick a tee in the ground and place the ball on it), and smack the living daylights out of the ball as hard as you can (provided its safe to do so), (chances are it will twing off about 6 metres to your right or left, and then dribble to a stop, or it will fly away off into space never to be seen again. Now repeat the same shot, but this time hit it at less than 3/4 as much strength and concentrate on aiming the club head to contact the ball well, and KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BALL THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE SWING!, and thats how you always play golf on every swing, Never ever ever smash a golf ball, it doesn't help, golf is purely about timing, not power.
Golf is a lot of fun, but just make sure you read all this, and take a few pointers, and it will save you many many hours of grief, wondering why you've just hit the ball in the sand or water for the 34th time in a day.
If you are going to buy a full set of clubs, make sure its got the following:
A Putter, a 3 Wood or 4 Wood (its a big long club with a big blocky looking head, at least a 5 iron, 6 iron, 7 iron, 8 iron, 9 iron, a few wedges, hopefully a sand wedge and a pitching wedge and preferably a bag and buggy to hold and move the clubs around with.
Okay, to start, we'll start with the most important myth. Yes clubs come in many lengths, but generally someone who is 6 feet tall, doesn't require that much of a different club than someone who is 5 feet tall, it depends on the length from the end of your hands (when they are down by your side), to the ground, and suprisingly, most people have the same length, it only varies by about an inch or so, so don't sweat too much if you've just brought a set of clubs that are an inch over standard or below.
Remember, if you are about to buy a set of clubs that have "very old" grips, you will have to re-grip them, because they slip and turn when you swing, and you will become very frustrated quickly. Having said that though, all clubs should be re-gripped often, which helps promote clean contact with the ball, because it stops your hands slipping. It can become a very important factor in playing with older clubs with rough or bad grips. MAKE SURE you practise on a golf course before you buy a set, and its always best to just ask a pro for his 3 second advice, but be careful, because lots of people will want to sell you something. The problem is, lets break it down to real basics. If you buy a setand when you swing, you have a bad slice or hook (the ball shoots away to the left or right a lot of the time, depending on if you're a left hander or right hander) then you need to factor that into your purchasing, and buy a set that will counter-act and help you eliminate the problem. The quick rule is, if you slice badly, try to get an offset forgiving set of clubs, and if you hit a low ball that doesn't go very high or far, try to get a club that has weight at the base near the ground, so it "pushes or thrusts" the ball up and high.
Golf clubs called blades, are for professionals, don't buy them unless you are very very good. Because unless you play off a 2 or 3 handicap, in which case you wouldn't be reading this, you are going to have a very hard time trying to learn, its kind of like giving a 1 year old child a book on walking to learn how to walk straight...its not going to help. The margin for error on a set of blades is very very very small.
Golf clubs with the words "cavity back" and "offset" or "very forgiving" are great for a new golfer and even experienced golfers, as they are designed for optimum forgiveness on a bad shot, and believe me, A LOT of golfers who play off a handicap of 7 or above, still use clubs like this, because they are very easy to use, and anything in golf that helps you is vital.
PUTTERS & DRIVERS
On purchasing a driver, my recommendation is when you are starting out, don't use the driver, try to just use the same iron all the time, like the 6 iron or 7 iron, and get used to that, before trying anything else, but having said that...If you are still wanting to smash a golf ball further than Venus and faster than Schumaker can accelerate, then just try to get one that is forgiving, and offset, which usually helps most people. Do yourself a favour, and try to get one that is 11 degrees or 12 degrees, even 13 degrees, because the loft (small angle on the face of the club that the ball is hit off) is really hard to use when in single digits, and trying to hit an extra 10 metres, and be 230 metres off the tee, rather than 250 metres is not worth the extra effort when trying to learn. You'll just end up in the water, or spinning off into someone's cart, because if you can hit 200 metres consistently straight with your driver when learning, you'll probably be a millionaire in 1 year.
On purchasing a putter, there isn't much to say here, other than just make sure you stand feet apart, head over the ball, KEEP LOOKING AT THE BALL THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SWING, and let the shoulders putt for you and you'll probably "grow" into your putter. I brought my putter off ebay 2 years ago for a steal, and learnt with it, and will never part with it, its worth a fortune to me, but it was only worth a couple of dollars to the seller. Its all relative.
THE SHAFTS IN GOLF CLUBS
FIRST RULE - A STIFF shaft will not hit the ball further than a REGULAR flex shaft. Its just all about timing.The shaft is VERY important in your purchase, and I can't emphasise it more. Steel for example is very consistent, but its heavy and harder to swing than graphite, but graphite is very whippy. My suggestion if you haven't tried them all (which is the best thing to do), is to purchase either regular flex graphite or if you can't afford that, just get regular flex steel. The reason for this, is that if you are new to golf, you probably look silly in a shop trying to swing a club because you aren't hitting it consistently, so its not going to tell you much when you try the different shafts, but if you choose a club that is too stiff, it will be IMPOSSIBLE to hit, and likewise if you choose a club that is too whippy, it will be like trying to play billiards with a giant cooked spaghetti stick.
SECOND RULE - If you are going to purcahse graphite, try to get a newer set, or if you are buying an older set, make sure you ask if there are any paint chips or dings on the shafts, as this can sometimes be a sign of problems to come, as graphite when hit hard can break, and over time the fibres will tear more, so that in a few months, you'll be lining up an easy 130 metre 7 iron shot, and after you've hit the ball, the head of the club will fly off further than your ball.
There aren't much to say for balls other than, try to buy a "softer" ball, or ball that slightly sticks to your hand when you rub it, as this means it will be much easier to score well with your short game. In other words, it will stop quicker after a shot, and be more inclined to putt with a better roll than a heavier ball. The best way to tell is find something that is a 3-piece golf ball or 4-piece golf ball.
The harder the material of the golf ball, the harder it is to hit it, and thus gives you a "jarring" sensation after hitting the ball with the club. Its simple really, the softer the ball the easier it is to hit it further when you are new. I hope this guide helps you all.