If you’re just learning to play golf, use clubs that offer you the greatest control and distance, in that order. Despite what many novice duffers believe, power and distance are not needed to score well in golf. The saying, “Drive for show, putt for dough,” is as true today as the day it was coined. Knowing the characteristics of golf clubs will help you find the right club for your game, regardless of which brand you eventually select.
For your driver and fairway woods, marry the right shaft with the right head.
Shafts vary in stiffness and flexibility, with more flexible clubs providing greater power (distance) and stiffer shafts offering more control (a straighter flight path). Think about a child bouncing on a trampoline and a child jumping up and down on the sidewalk. Who will rebound higher? Who will have more control of themselves? That’s why flexible shafts offer more power and less control, while stiffer clubs have the opposite effect. Beginning golfers tend to gravitate toward more flexible shafts to obtain more power. Pairing a more flexible shaft with a club head that provides more control may be the best way for a beginner to start.
The head of the club can be tall or short, have a more open or closed face (loft), have different lies (angle to the ground for irons) and have a narrow or wide sole. Beginners should use a larger head to give you more chance to make contact with the ball. A slightly more open face will give you more loft and help get your shots in the air. An offset head will square the fact at impact, because it is set back slightly from the shaft. You will also want a lower center of gravity.
To summarize, choose woods that feature a flexible shaft, larger head, lower center of gravity, wider sole, offset head and more loft.
Because of the difficulty in controlling a driver, you may not want to purchase one until you have started to control your swing.
For your irons, you’ll again want a more flexible shaft with a larger head. Look for perimeter-weighted heads which will give the club more stability on off-center hits. To help control the club when you hit the ground a bit too early, choose a wider sole, which is the bottom part of the club which rests on the ground. Finally, look for irons with a low center of gravity.
Putters come in two lengths: Belly putters, which are several feet tall and require the hands to be spread apart; and traditional putters, which are about hip height and keep both hands close together. Putters also come in two widths: blade (thin) and mallet (wide).
Despite these differences, putter choice comes down to preference. Older players, even senior professionals, gravitate toward the longer, wider putters which they feel gives them more control. For beginners, either a Belly or regular putter can work fine, but the wider mallet style may provide more control.