Choosing the Right Golf Equipment
Photo: Kyle Maass
When you are not playing very well it is very easy to blame your golf equipment. However, despite the millions being spent each year developing better equipment, new gear did not appreciably improve scores until very recently. From the combination of better equipment, better-trained athletes, and better-maintained courses (thus, faster greens), you
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would expect the average scores of professional golfers to have improved in the same way, if not more, as it has been the case in other sports since the 1950s. But it is not the case.

In fact, high-handicappers benefit more from innovation than do professional players, simply because when a pro misses a shot, it is usually only by a fraction, so they benefit less from equipment minimizing errors. Reversely, if you are a high-handicap golfer, using the clubs of your favorite pro is highly likely to do more harm than good. Your swing is unique, so you want clubs that match it.
Swing velocity and shaft length
Trying to attribute improvements to any one factor, especially equipment, is dubious. The complexities of the golf swing make it extremely difficult to predict with any certainty how much new equipment will help, if at all. Whereas in all the major sports the type of equipment is adapted to the size and sex of the player, in golf taller and stronger players do not gain a significant advantage by swinging longer-shafted drivers. The optimum combination of shaft length and clubhead weight has little relation to the size, strength, and sex of the golfer, but depends solely on a golfer's swing velocity.
Try new equipment before buying it

This be said, confidence in your equipment is just as important as confidence in your analysis of the game, your visualization skills and your kinetic memory. Remember when buying clubs to always try them out first. It is important, not only to see if the club performs as advertised, but also to determine whether the equipment has the right feel for you. Even when you find equipment that offers better performance, there's the "feel learning curve", which means that it's going to take time for you to become comfortable with the new clubs and develop the same confidence you had with the old set.
More about choosing golf clubs.

Be a good judge of your abilities

To become a good judge of what equipment can and cannot do for your abilities, you have to first figure out how your present game is, what talent you possess to improve, and what the right equipment can do to help. Therefore, you have to develop an understanding of the role of materials and designs. The two go hand in hand because any change in materials can alter the performance of a design, and vice versa. Generally, golf club manufacturers seek stronger materials for durability, lighter materials that can improve swing velocity, and elastically "tuned" materials (i.e. the club and ball are tuned to each other) that can improve the momentum transfer during the millisecond of contact.

A basic set of golf clubs will include woods, irons, putters, and wedges. Other golf equipment to consider includes shoes, balls, gloves, clothing and training aids.
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