So you've decided to take up golf but don't know what you need? From golf clubs to bags and the apparel you need to get - we've got you covered.
When you're just taking up golf, you really don't need to spend hundreds of pounds of brand new equipment. You don't even need a full set of clubs.
You could buy a full-set, of course, and if you’re completely committed to sticking with golf then doing that will mean you’re set for the future, but if you’re just trying it out to see if you like it, our advice would be to buy enough clubs to make what is called a half-set.
Something like a driver, hybrid, 7-iron, pitching wedge and a putter. It doesn’t need to be exactly those; you could take a 6-iron instead of a 7-iron, or a 9-iron instead of the pitching wedge (although if you do that you might want to add a sand wedge as well).
Our advice would be to look for clubs with plenty of loft, and irons that fall in to the 'super game improvement' category. For examples, click here to see our favourite Super Game Improvement irons of 2019
A Golf Bag
If you’re just going to the range or a little pitch & putt course, you don’t need one, but as soon as you start carrying more than two clubs or going on an actual golf course, it’s a must.
You’ll be able to pick up a cheap stand bag up online or a second-hand one from a charity shop or boot sale; just make sure it’s got a double-strap (far more comfortable), no big rips or tears, and that the legs work. At this stage, unless you're only going to be playing golf with a golf trolley, it's best to go for a stand bag as this can be also strapped on to any golf trolley.
If you're looking for something to last a little longer, check out our favourite stand bags of 2019 here.
By all means, buy the ones that cost £45 a box because your favourite tour pro uses them if you wish, but bear in mind that works out at nearly £4 a ball. In your early rounds of golf, you’ll probably be losing balls hand over fist, so that gets pretty expensive pretty quickly. You can get perfectly good balls for about half that, especially if you shop around a bit.
We’d recommend the Srixon AD333 or Mizuno JPX as they perform well and won’t break the bank. You can buy used balls, often called "lake balls", but you never really know what you're getting and the quality can be a bit hit and miss.
The dress code varies significantly from one golf club to the next, so it’s always a good idea to check online or ring and check before turning up if you’re not sure. Some clubs are very relaxed and allow jeans and t-shirts, while others will want you to wear a collared shirt and can even be funny about the length of your socks. If you're just heading to the driving range, there isn't usually a dress code.
If you’re ever unsure and want to play it safe – or just look the part – you won’t go far wrong with a collared polo shirt (avoid football shirts or anything with a huge logo across the chest) and a pair of trousers (chinos are always fine, jeans and tracksuit bottoms are often a no-no).
In terms of footwear, at many courses you will get away with trainers, particularly as many modern golf shoes look like trainers anyway, but some places may insist on golf shoes.
Golf shoes will offer you much better grip and stability through your swing anyway than trainers, anyway, so it’s worth getting a pair. You can pick up a perfectly decent pair for under £40 – top-end pairs can be over £200. Check out our pick of golf shoes for under £100
Things you need for your bag
A Golf Glove - If you know what size of glove you might need, there are plenty of options online, but it's something every Pro Shop stocks too, so there's no need to give yourself unwanted blisters for going without.
Tee pegs – Golf snobs will insist on wooden ones but plastic ones last longer and help you tee your ball at the same height every time, which gives you one less thing to worry about.
Pitchmark repairer – At some stage, you’ll hit a beautiful shot that flies high into the sky and lands on the green with a thud. It’s a moment to rejoice, but you’ll also notice that your ball’s landing has created a little dent in the putting surface. You’ll want to repair that (we’ll show you how later) and a pitchmark repairer is the tool for the job.
Ball marker – When your ball is on the green, you are allowed to put a marker down behind it (on a direct line away from the hole), enabling you to pick up your ball to clean it and, if you wish, line it up. Technically you can use any object to do that – tee peg, coin, mobile phone, saucepan – but a ball marker is an inexpensive way to make yourself look like a real golfer. It’s also small and light, which means it’s no effort to carry in your pocket and won’t get in the way of any of your playing partners when they hit a putt on the green (which can’t be said of a saucepan).
Towel - It clips onto your bag and is handy for giving your club a quick wipe after each shot to keep it clean. Also good for absorbing tears if you’re really having a tough time out there.
Sharpie – Your balls will have the brand and model written on there, as well as a number, but you might not be the only person on the course playing a Srixon AD333 number 1. It’s therefore a good idea to put an individual marking on your ball to avoid any doubt over whose is whose.
A Rule Book (or Rule Book App) - Let's be honest, even golfers who have been playing for their entire lives will still come across bizarre moments that call for the need to consult the rule book. There are a few basic rules you need to know, but it's much easier not to get caught out by having the rules at hand. Luckily the R&A now have an app you can download on your phone too.
An Umbrella - Another practical item that should be on your list if you live in the UK. The weather doesn't always behave, and you'll be thankful when you aren't the one getting caught out!
Do I need a GPS device or a laser?
This is certainly not essential at the start, but most regular golfers nowadays have a device that tells them the exact distance to the flag so they know how far they need to hit their next shot.
There are two main types: a GPS which typically comes in the form of a watch or a small handheld device, or a laser which you aim at your target. Again, it’s personal preference, so speak to some golfers you know about what they use or check out some of our GPS and laser rangefinder reviews to get an idea of the benefits of each.
But when you're just getting started, you can always use Motocaddy's free GPS App - available to download on your phone - which provides key distances, hazard information and hole data for over 40,000 golf courses worldwide.
Getting golf lessons right at the start is a brilliant idea and will save you a lot of problems in the future trying to fix bad habits you’ve picked up and ingrained over time.
Many clubs offer “get into golf” packages for beginners, so ask around or have a Google to see if there’s anything like that in your area. If money is tight, group lessons can be a good way to get some time with a coach. One-to-one sessions are great, but as you’ll be covering the basics, you won’t lose much by doing it as part of a group, and you’ll get the additional benefit of meeting other beginner golfers.
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