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Does Having a Good Golf Club Make a Difference?
Every sport with a stick, club, bat, or racquet faces the same underlying question — is it the wizard or the wand? How much does your tool of choice impact your performance? Golfers, in particular, place a high value on their club selections because they have to use many types of clubs in one round.
There’s no doubt that playing with a new set of clubs can lead to better results, but exactly how much of a difference does a good golf club make? Let’s find out.
It’s the Player, Not the Club
The short answer is simple — it’s the player, not the club. Golfers in the collegiate and professional ranks can still play at an elite level with mediocre clubs. Similarly, the most expensive set of clubs in the world can’t compensate for a player’s lack of skills. Your swinging technique matters a whole lot more than your club’s make and model.
The swinging technique includes a handful of important fundamentals, starting with your posture. Golfers must maintain a straight and neutral spine throughout their swing to ensure a consistent ball flight path. Poor posture leads to erratic shots and can cause serious back injuries. Your golf club choice doesn’t mean anything if you can’t hit the ball straight.
The next key to a straight and strong swing is your grip. The same golf club can perform quite differently with a slight grip adjustment. The overlapping “Vardon” grip is the most popular grip variety among the pros because it ensures a unified hand motion. Players with smaller hands use the interlocking grip, while players with bigger hands use a more relaxed baseball grip.
After you straighten your posture and find a comfortable grip, the next step in creating a smooth swing is shoulder rotation. Many amateurs fall short at this step. They get too eager to crush the ball and lift their hands prematurely, swinging mostly with their arms. You must create a triangular connection between your hands, arms and shoulders to generate maximum power.
Some golfers also argue that using expensive clubs causes the “laziness effect.” Modern golf clubs have much larger sweet spots and are more forgiving than older clubs, which can cause players to slack on their swinging fundamentals. They know they have a bigger margin for error, so they don’t pay much attention to creating a consistent swing.
Taking the laziness effect into account, using an average set of clubs might be more beneficial for your golf game in the long run. Rather than obsessing over your equipment, you can focus on developing your game the right way. Golfers from previous generations didn’t need today’s advanced clubs, so neither do you.
Choosing the Right Club For Each Shot
Another factor is more important than your club’s make and model — choosing the right club for each shot. You could have the best set of irons and wedges in the world, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t know their distances. Every serious golfer should know whether to choose a pitching wedge, chipping wedge, or low-lofted iron for each approach shot.
The success rate for choosing the right club is never 100%, even at the professional level. Every course presents a new challenge, so you can’t expect your golf clubs to perform exactly the same everywhere you play.
New Golf Clubs Can Give You an Advantage
Club selection and swinging technique for each shot are the most important parts of your golf game. However, there’s no denying that using a modern set of clubs can give you a distinct competitive advantage. Today’s clubs allow you to hit farther and straighter than ever before. The average driving distance on the PGA Tour is almost 40 yards longer than it was in 1980.
As previously mentioned, newer clubs have a greater margin for error. Your strike pattern doesn’t have to be precise. You can focus more on hitting for raw power than hitting for accuracy, which is exactly what professional players do. Driving for distance has never been a bigger part of the game, while iron play and putting have taken a backseat.
Players can regularly hit drives more than 320 yards, which makes most of the course between the tee box and green irrelevant. In fact, the emphasis on driving distance has become such a problem that the United States Golf Association (USGA) has considered introducing a universal golf ball to rebalance the game. Many players have spoken out against this rule change.
How to Keep Your Clubs in Good Condition
Your performance on the golf course also depends on the condition of your clubs. If you watch professional golf, you’ve probably noticed that the players clean off their clubs after every single shot. A clean club face ensures no dirt or debris interferes with your shot. You should make a habit of cleaning your club after every shot, just like the pros.
Over time, your clubs will corrode and might develop some rust. To alleviate these problems, many golfers will re-chrome their clubs or refinish them with nickel plating. Nickel plating tends to create a more constant thickness on the club’s surface, which means you don’t have to apply as much to get an even coating.
You might also have to re-grip your clubs, sharpen the grooves in the club face, or apply a wax finish to avoid excessive corrosion. All of these maintenance tasks will elevate your play on the course. However, you must be sure to follow the modification rules set by the USGA. Deep grooves and non-regulation grips are grounds for disqualification.
Finally, you need to store your golf clubs properly. Each one should have a headcover to protect them from the elements during play. For long-term storage, you must keep them in a dry, temperature-controlled environment. Never leave them outside for long periods of time. If you treat your golf clubs well, they will return the favor with consistent performance.
It’s the Wizard, Not the Wand
Although using new clubs can give you an advantage, it’s ultimately you who determines the results, not your gear. Don’t get too caught up in the make and model of your golf clubs. If you keep working on your swinging fundamentals, learn the distance of each club, and take care of basic preventative maintenance, your game will continue to improve no matter what.