Before You Buy New Golf Clubs

A bag of golf clubs sits on the course while a young Asian female golfer takes a swing in the background
Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Are you preparing to replace your old golf clubs with new ones? Here are a few things to keep in mind before you buy a new set of golf clubs.

Identify Your Needs

You're about to spend hundreds - maybe thousands, depending on your bankroll and your level of commitment - of dollars. The most important thing when replacing an old set of golf clubs with a new set is to be honest about the state of your game, and your dedication to the game. How much money and what level of equipment do you feel is justified by your game and your dedication to it?

Consider Changes in Your Game

Ask yourself this question: Do I need a different type club because of changes in my game? For example, if your handicap index has shot up because you don't play as frequently, you might want to replace those muscleback blades with cavitybacks, or those long irons with hybrids. Conversely, if you've shown great improvement, perhaps you're willing to consider moving up in class to clubs geared for better players. (General rule of thumb: Take advantage of game-improvement technology - the more, the better.) Realistically matching your level of expertise and dedication with the playability of new clubs can only help.

Should You Change Shafts?

The older we get, the more likely it is we need a softer flex on our golf shafts. Most teaching pros will tell you that most men are playing shafts too stiff for their games to begin with. Be honest about your swing. Should you be playing a softer flex? Likewise, players with slower or weaker swings generally benefit from graphite shafts. If you're playing steel but your swing has slowed, give graphite some consideration.

How About a Clubfitting?

The safest way to answer the question about shafts is to get a clubfitting. A rudimentary clubfitting - taking a few measurements, answering a few questions about distances - can be done in any pro shop and even online. But an in-depth clubfitting lasting 30-45 minutes with a teaching pro or professional clubfitter is the best way to ensure that the equipment you're about to purchase matches your swing and your body.

Set a Budget

Once you've identified the current state of your game and your future goals, it's time to consider how much you're willing to spend. Some golfers have unlimited budgets, and there's nothing wrong with overspending if you're in that category. But most golfers have at least some budget constraints. The good news is that the "value" or "budget" category of golf equipment continues to offer more and better choices every year. Decide how much you're willing to spend, and stick to it.

  • Research Prices in the Pro Shop

Read Golf Club Reviews

Reviews can sometimes be as confusing as they can be helpful, given that different "experts" sometimes offer different conclusions about the same product. But reading reviews can help you get a sense of what's out there in your price range and what matches your game. Reviews might not provide you with the perfect answer, but they can help you narrow the field. You can find reviews online and in golf magazines.

Seek Out Opinions

Something else that can help narrow the field are the opinions of friends, of the local golf pro and even of salespeople in pro shops. If you're shopping low-budget, in a department store for example, you likely won't find much help from the store's staff. But there are a couple pro shops in just about every town that have developed reputations for honesty and helpfulness. Find one of those and you might just find the best clubs for you.

Shop Around

Of course, it all comes down to what you like, what you want and how much you can afford. In the end, the only person who needs to be pleased is you. Spend some time looking around and comparing prices. Inventory and prices can vary from store to store. Stick within your budget and find a set of clubs that you're confident matches your abilities and goals