Rocking up on the first tee with a shiny new golf club is a feeling that's hard to beat. As the sun dances across the clubface, you notice a few admiring glances from your playing partners. And then, that first swing. What a rush!
Assuming you don't chunk it 80 yards, of course.
Buying new clubs to suit your game isn't easy. There's so much to consider, and cutting through the BS can be tricky. If you're gearing up for the start of the 2023 golf season and looking for a new weapon for your bag, check out a few of our favourite golf club buying tips below.
1) Fix your swing, then your clubs
If you're struggling with your golf swing and looking to improve your scores as quickly as possible, throwing a few hundred pounds at a new driver won't be the silver bullet you're hoping for.
Sure, new golf clubs are jacked up with technology that can allow for your dodgy swing faults and mishits, but you could quickly get more benefit from a few lessons with your local golf pro.
While there's definite appeal in a shiny new driver or a brand spanking new set of irons, they will help you go even lower if you've ironed out your major swing faults before parting with your hard-earned cash.
2) Do your research
While there's no substitute for trying out golf clubs before you buy, you'll find plenty of reviews online - both written and video content - which can help you make an informed choice.
You'll undoubtedly be in a better place to whittle down the available options than if you go it alone and merely wing it.
3) Get a custom fitting
When you're shelling out hundreds of pounds on new golf clubs, you need to be sure they will improve your game. Or, at the very least, not make it any worse. That's where a custom could come in handy.
More and more golfers see the benefit of 'try before you buy' style fitting sessions. Knowing that you have golf clubs suited to your height, body type and golf swing - and discussing the best shaft option for your game - can also help you practice between rounds. You can set to work knowing that your equipment isn't the issue.
4) Keep an open mind
We can all get starry-eyed over the newest golf clubs from the biggest names in the game, and rightly so in many cases.
These golf clubs are the best options on the market at any given time, and, despite the cheesy over-hyped promises, they generally take forgiveness and distance up a notch most years. You would expect so, too, given the amounts they spend on R&D.
That said, there are plenty of deals if you look towards previous years' models. Golf is often criticised as being an expensive start-up sport, and it can be, but you can build a great set-up for less if you're willing to shop around and do your research.
The same thing goes for shelf appeal. The best-looking club isn't always the best club for your game. Of course, standing over a club that suits your eye can have confidence-boosting benefits, but don't be too proud to opt for something less visually appealing, which you know will help you shoot lower scores.
5) Driver distance or better dispersion?
Before you settle on a new driver for 2022, you must decide what you're trying to achieve. Are you looking to hit more bombs and leave yourself shorter approach shots, or are you trying to increase your fairways-hit percentage and avoid playing from the rough?
In a perfect world, you could achieve both. In reality, different driver options will help you more in one area than the other.
6) Hybrid or long irons?
A hybrid can be an excellent option for the average golfer as it's often easier to launch than a long iron with plenty more versatility from tricky lies. If you find yourself prone to mishits and hit more shots from the thick stuff than you would like, a rescue club could be the answer.
If you're a golfer who likes a more compact look at address and an enhanced shot-shaping ability, you could be better suited to long irons.
7) Choose your wedges wisely
There are massive gains to be had if you can tighten up your short game, in fact it's often highlighted as the best way a high-handicapper can break 100 and go on to break 90.
One great way to improve your play around the greens is to find a wedge option that suits the courses you play most often.
You'll want more loft if your home course has small, fast, elevated greens. If the bunkers have plenty of sand, you'll need plenty of bounce.
If you're a mid-high handicap golfer, there are plenty of game-improvement wedge options with wider soles and higher levels of forgiveness which could help you from 100 yards and in.
8) Blade or mallet?
Average golfers make around 40% of their shots with the short stick, so it makes sense to use a putter best-suited to your game.
A blade putter is more likely to suit a golfer with an arc in their putting stroke, whereas if you're a 'straight-back-and-through' golfer, you may opt for a mallet.
How the putter feels in your hands will also play a big part. If you're determined to get it right, book a putter fitting to see which style suits you best.