New golf clubs can be an exciting prospect to ponder, but when is the right time for a change? There are two schools of thought: club manufacturers’ marketing departments seem to suggest a new set every season or left to your own frugal devices, you may still be playing with that decade-old set used on your best round. Neither approach is valid. New clubs can help your game, but constantly grabbing “next year’s model” is sure to wreak some havoc with your consistency.
So, when is the right time to get new clubs? We asked a couple of our local pros and they both agreed that fit is the most important factor.
When Your Clubs Don’t Fit Anymore
“When they don’t fit you anymore, or when you feel like you are leaving something on the table by not switching,” says Don Berry, PGA professional at Edinburgh USA Golf Club in Brooklyn Park.
Christopher Foley, director of instruction at Cragun’s Legacy Courses in Brainerd, agrees.
“The biggest reasons to consider new clubs is getting clubs that fit properly to help optimize performance and to keep up with technology,” he says. “New clubs are easier to hit and are longer.”
If a Club is Damaged
Sometimes you have to replace a club due to damage (I broke my steel-shafted 8-iron hitting a tree root and replaced it with a comparable club, but the new shaft was graphite), and while it is not ideal, it is cheaper than a new set. Still, the pros warn against it.
“Within a set of irons, I wouldn’t recommend replacing a single iron unless it is to replace a long iron such as a 3- or 4-iron with a hybrid club or high-loft fairway wood or in the wedge end of the set,” Foley says. “Within the irons, you want the same clubs so that you have proper gapping and the clubs have the same shafts and lie angles.”
Berry agrees that mixing a set is not ideal, but if it must be done, he suggests taking all the clubs to a golf shop to have lies and lofts checked, and possibly change the shafts if their weight isn’t right.
“The bottom line is to play the best clubs for you,” Berry says. “I remember hearing a story that when Bobby Jones retired he had a mixed set of clubs — and someone checked out all the specs and they were all perfectly matched to each other. So, he obviously just picked the clubs he hit the best regardless of the make and model.”
Get Your Club(s) Fitted
When you have made the decision to acquire some new clubs, any golf pro would say that getting club fitted by a professional is essential — and getting fitted for irons is different than for metal woods.
“When buying new clubs, the most important thing is to go through a club fitting,” Foley says. “The fitting process for the driver, irons, and wedges all involve several different elements. With the driver, the shaft and loft of the club are the most important consideration to optimize distance. With the irons, the length, lie angle and shaft flex and material are all considerations. With the wedges, you need to look at how many wedges, the lofts for proper gapping, and the bounce angles.”
And Berry adds another consideration:
“Metal woods are mostly made to achieve the most distance, while irons and wedges are designed for consistent distance. You want your driver and 3-wood to go as far as they can, but you wouldn’t necessarily want that with a 6-iron. That’s why most good players use graphite shafts in their metal woods but steel shafts in their irons.”
So, when do you get new clubs? Take a quick survey of your bag (and perhaps look over your most recent scorecards), and you may decide it is time to move on from that old “Billy Beroo” and the other old clubs found there.