Golf Club Selection

How to Choose the Best 14 Golf Clubs

What 14 clubs do you carry in your golf bag? Maybe I should ask, what 14 clubs SHOULD you carry in your golf bag? In today’s golfing landscape, there are so many more options than in years past. With the introduction of hybrid golf clubs and their recent popularity, many golfers have begun to swap out their standard irons for the more forgiving hybrid golf clubs to help improve their game.

Regardless of your game, almost as a given, all golfers need to carry these clubs: Driver, 3 Wood, Putter, 7 iron, 8 iron, 9 iron, Pitching Wedge. So with these seven clubs spoken for already, you have seven more clubs in which to make up your bag.

So how should you best choose the remaining clubs to carry to complete your allowed 14 clubs? Generally the lower handicap golfers will carry a few different wedges to help account for all of the possible short game situations they would encounter on the golf course. So they will generally carry at least two of these three wedges, and maybe even all three: Approach/Gap wedge, Sand wedge and Lob wedge. You can visit the golf club loft page to see the standard lofts of the different clubs, but the lob wedge is generally the 60 degree wedge.

Wedges

As a good rule to follow, when you’re choosing the wedges to put in your bag, try to choose them in four degree increments. You want to maintain at least a four degree separation in you wedges, and all clubs for that matter. The standard pitching wedge is 48 degrees, so if you want to carry three additional wedges, you’ll want to space them out so that your approach (AW), or sometimes referred to as gap (GW) wedge, is 52 degrees, sand wedge is 56 degrees and lob wedge is 60 degrees. If you choose to only carry two additional wedges beyond the pitching wedge, you should look for your gap/sand wedge to be 53 degrees and sand/lob wedge to be 58 degrees.

Woods

All golfers need to carry a driver and a 3 wood at least. How do you know if you should carry a 5 wood or not? As a general rule, I would say that if you hit your drives further than 250 yards, you could get away without carrying a 5 wood. But if your average drive is less than 250, you should definitely carry a 5 wood, or a hybrid wood in the 20 degree range. Again, the lofts on woods vary slightly, but your 3 wood will typically be about 15 degrees in loft, and a 5 wood should be between 18 and 20 degrees. If you are not very long off the tee, you may consider carrying a 7 wood as well.

Irons

Long irons are probably the most difficult golf clubs to hit consistently in most people’s bags. Typically in golf, the less loft a club has, the more pronounced our swing flaws will be in the direction our golf ball flies. Many amateurs struggle to get the golf ball off the ground with a long iron (3, 4, 5, 6 irons), and have turned to hybrid irons (wood/iron combo clubs) that have more mass in the club head to help keep the club face square at impact.

Game improvement irons have hit the scene as well which are designed specially to be perimeter weighted as well as have the majority of the weight of the club lower toward the sole of the club. This is all in an attempt to help golfers get the golf ball off the ground, as well as help keep the club face square on off-center hits. Hybrid irons and game improvement irons are both designed to achieve the same thing: more mass in the club head to help keep the ball straight and get it airborne.

Typically a set of hybrid irons will have the 3, 4, 5 and 6 irons with a bulkier head to help the golfer hit it longer and straighter because of struggles that many golfers have with hitting the regular long irons. Then the 7, 8, 9, PW will look more like the normal iron heads. But sets are designed this way now because of the stark contrast between what many amateur and novice golfers have found when trying to hit a 3 iron when compared to a PW of the same iron set. The golf swing should be the same for the most part regardless of what iron you’re hitting, but mentally for the amateur golfer, they are worlds apart. And so the hybrid iron set was introduced, and your game could most likely benefit from it if you choose to carry hybrids in your golf bag. Heck, even the tour pros are doing it.

We’ve talked about woods, irons and wedges. The best 14 clubs in your bag should best suit your individual game, and no one else’s. You have to play the 14 clubs that you are most comfortable and confident with that gives you the best chance to hit good shots all up and down your bag.

For the same reason that there are literally hundreds of different putter styles, the other clubs in your bag are very similar in that they should help you feel the most comfortable and confident. Golf is a mental game and a game of confidence, and you need confidence on your side if you are ever to succeed in this game. You need to find your personal preference and trust it.

Should you always carry the same 14 clubs for every round of golf? Well, it depends on how serious of a golfer you intend to be. For most amateurs, sure, they can play with the same 14 clubs every round on every different type of course, and probably not make much difference. The answer to this question changes however as you advance in skill level. The better golfers should mix and match depending on the course being played.

For example, if the course is shorter, one might want to have an extra wedge in their bag to help in the short game situations, and could stand to leave a 5 wood or 3 iron at home for the day. The opposite is true as well for a longer course. Or maybe a course being played puts more demand on being straight because of the tree lined fairways…this type of course may influence your decision on whether or not to actually carry a driver in your bag depending on how well you are able to hit your driver straight. Not having a club in your bag removes all temptation of hitting it on the course. Everyone is different, and it has to be an individual choice to best suit your golf game. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone by hitting a specific club. If it’s legal, and it helps your game…then put it in your bag.

There is one main rule of thumb when choosing which 14 clubs to play with, and that is this: you must ensure that you don’t have more than a 15 yard gap in your bag. What I mean by this is to make sure that each club in your bag can hit the ball a different distance when making a normal golf swing. You don’t want to have a gap that is too big, because then you’ll find yourself over swinging with one club, or under swinging with another when you’re faced with a specific distance.

Before you know which clubs to have in your bag, you need to know how far you hit each club. This has become easier these days with the help of a Golf Club Distance Calculator. Get one here and never guess about distances again.

Try to achieve a 10 to 15 yard difference in the distance when you move up in your bag. For instance, I hit my 56 degree sand wedge 100 yards with a normal swing. I also carry a 52 degree gap wedge in which I hit about 115 to 120 yards. Next is my 48 degree pitching wedge that I hit 135. My 150 yard club is a full 9 iron. I hit my 8 iron 160, and my 7 iron 170, and so on. The idea is to get every distance accounted for between 100 yards and 250 yards, with the emphasis being on the range of distance between 100 and 200 because the majority of your par 3s and second shots on par 4s will be in this range.

Like we’ve discussed, the choices you make to fill out the 14 clubs in your bag should be entirely individual and best suit your game. With that said, this is what makes up my bag on most courses that I play. Driver, 3-wood, 3 iron – PW, GW, SW, LW and Putter. Sometimes I will swap out my GW for a 2 iron or a 5 wood. But I’ve found that I like that extra gap coverage in the 120 yard range. I feel that I have a better scoring chance from having the ideal club from 120 yards than I do with a 2 iron or 5 wood from 230 yards. I am more often faced with a 120 yard shot than I am a 230 yarder…and I expect to hit the ball closer from 120 than I do from 230, and therefore I try to put the odds in my favor. This is the reasoning that I’ve made for my own individual golf game. You will need to do the same for yours. Click Here to Select the Right Golf Clubs For Your Game

Club
*Handicap Level
**Average Length
Driver
HML
LAS
3 wood
HML
LAS
5 wood
HML
AS
7 wood
HM
S
9 wood
H
S
1 iron
L
L
2 iron
L
LA
3 iron
LM
LA
4 iron
LM
LA
5 iron
LM
LAS
6 iron
LM
LAS
3 hybrid
HML
LAS
4 hybrid
HML
LAS
5 hybrid
HM
AS
6 hybrid
HM
AS
7 iron
HML
LAS
8 iron
HML
LAS
9 iron
HML
LAS
PW
HML
LAS
AW/GW
ML
LA
SW
HML
LAS
LW
ML
LA
Putter
HML
LAS
Chipper
H
S
* H=High, M=Middle, L=Low** L=Low, A=Average, S=Short

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