The Chicken or the Egg - Clubs Or Lessons?
First of all, Happy New Year to all my readers out there. It is for you that I write this blog every Tuesday and Friday, and it is your questions that keep me inspired with subjects to cover. We’ve touched on a lot of things in the past two years and 300+ posts, but there’s always another problem, question or challenge to answer, so I’m here for you.

To start the year off, our first winner of a new EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge is Daniel Tak, who is a new golfer, handicap about 25, who’s learning with a set of starter clubs purchased off the shelf. He’s never had lessons, and asks which comes first, better clubs or lessons.

Well, Daniel, that can be a tough call. In my opinion, if you really think you like this game enough to stay with it, top grade equipment is worth the investment. But that doesn’t necessarily mean top dollar, custom fit stuff . . . yet. As everyone here knows, I’m a huge believer in carefully fitted and matched clubs, but that process should be only part of the equation to better golf. It would be a total waste of money to invest in custom-fit clubs if your swing is in transition. The better “first” investment is in your technique and swing mechanics.

You don’t mention whether you’ve read or studied videos on the golf swing yet, but I mentioned a few posts back that I think Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf” is the most powerful treatise on the golf swing ever. It would make a good “handbook” for you at this stage. Build a sound grip first, and carefully structure a proper setup and posture position. These are the building blocks. Then work hard to learn how to construct a fundamental golf swing around Hogan’s principles. As these become ingrained, seek out a teaching pro that you connect with . . . it may take a few tries . . . and stay with him or her.

As for equipment, I think the best next step for you is to invest in a set of pre-owned clubs that are reasonably matched to each other, so that you can approach consistency. Don’t go for radical “game improvement” designs, but stay with something pretty basic – not a lot of offset, moderate cavity design in the irons, etc. Try to get the same shaft flex in your woods and irons, and use a couple of hybrids instead of the 3 and 4 iron for now. I’d even suggest you stay away from a driver for a little while, using a 3-wood off the tee.

Most large golf stores have good selection of pre-owned pro-line equipment, and eBay is a huge marketplace for bargains. You’ll find what works for you without spending a fortune, and until you get into the mid-teens with that handicap, equipment is a smaller part of the equation, in my opinion.

So, Daniel, hopefully that gets you off to a good start. If you have any more questions, put them up here in a comment and let the other readers chime in. There is a lot of knowledge in this group.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


photo source
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[ comments ]
Banker85 says:
my Irons are adams tight lies with ton of offset i am approaching 10 handicap hopefully this upcoming season. I want to get something stiff shaft like my woods and i hate the offset on my irons now so i was thinking about taylormade rac lt2 irons.
1/5/10
 
k-von says:
While I don't think you necessarily NEED a lesson, I think you should have someone who knows this game take a trip to the range with you and just give you notes on your swing. There are things you could be doing in your swing that can only really be detected by a third party or a camera. I think the two matters of importance when starting out is get the grip right and pare down the swing to minimize movement.
1/5/10
 
k-von says:
Also, don't limit swinging a club to just visits to the range or course. Keep a club in the house and practice gripping and swinging for a while every day, ideally without smashing anything expensive.
1/5/10
 
Ward says:
a new golfer should start with lessons,

take that basically clean slate, and start with a solid swing rather than having to go back later and unlearn all the bad habits you pick up from trial and error learning

equipment (although fun to buy) rarely makes a large difference in your score
1/5/10
 
mjaber says:
One place you missed in your "where to buy the next set of clubs" thoughts is the clearance section. You can get a good set of clubs at a deep discount if you buy last years models, or even 2 years ago. Keep an eye out at the start and end of the golf season, and you'll see a lot of deep discounts from retailers trying to clear out last years models to make room for the new stuff.

I know my local store has a couple discounted sets I'm eyeing for my next step.

Also, don't just buy something. Make sure you can try it first. The "best" club from any club test may not be the best club for you. I bought a club off ebay once, and it was all wrong for me. It was a good club, and highly rated, just didn't feel right for me.
1/5/10
 
Bryan K says:
I agree with Ward...lessons first...make sure you get with someone who is good at teaching beginners the fundamentals of the golf swing.

I also recommend Hogan's book.

But the one thing I'd shy away from is getting "tips" from someone who appears to know what they are doing. To a beginner golfer, someone with a low-teens handicap appears to be an amazing player. Unfortunately, though, it is entirely possible for that golfer to have some serious flaws in his/her game.
1/5/10
 
Tim Horan says:
I had a long layoff from golf due to family commitments and a love of archery. On my return to golf I bought a set of blades which were "sort of fitted" for me but were not right. They were too heavy at D5 and over the six years that I kept them my swing plane got steeper and steeper. To get back to the point I would advise lessons first before you buy, get the advice on equipment from your coach or pro, he is less likely to sell you inappropriate equipment if he has to face you each week at the club and his selection will be based on observation rather than sales driven. Try a two/ three day golf clinic...they are great fun when starting out.
1/5/10
 
aaronm04 says:
Thought I would mention what NOT to do. And that's take too much advice. Golf magazines are chock full of advice and everyone from the club pro to Spaulding Smails will have a golf tip(s) for you. Just realize that every golf tip out there is not necessarily meant for you. In fact, most aren't.
1/5/10
 
lcgolfer64 says:
Agree with many of the folks above, instruction first.

- One thought, at least I've seen locally here, is checking with the community education groups in your area.

Many have courses for beginner golf. We have several over the winter that are low cost and cater to beginners to intermediate golfers. Low cost and led by local pro's or instructors.
1/5/10
 
mjaber says:
For the record: Existence preceeds essence, therefore, since the egg is the essence of a chicken, and the chicken is, well, a chicken, the chicken came first. :)
1/6/10
 
Bryan K says:
Yes, but not all eggs produce chickens. I'm guessing that there was a species of animal that existed before the chicken that came from an egg, so my wager is that the egg came first.
1/6/10
 
Banker85 says:
it was probably some type of half egg chicken monster first.
1/6/10
 
Tanker10a says:
Personally, I think the balance between lessons and clubs are key. I have just started with golf last summer. Right from the start, I knew that I wanted lessons first. Golf is difficult and frustrating by standard. I agree with the article and Ward. I did not my set until I had my first lesson and as per my instructor, I bought a set within his suggested price. It's true that you can waste your dollars into multiple sets until you get the right one. I think your learning level can determine what you need in your bag. My set is less than 1 year old but I am already thinking how to want to pimp my bag this year with more lessons included. I have read Ben Hogan and I have been watching AJ Bonar, David Leadbetter and Gary McChord on a regular basis. So as far as "The Chicken or The Egg" thing, Clubs versus Lessons, it's strictly a matter of a golfer's priorities.
1/7/10
 
onedollarwed says:
I'm 180 degrees on formal lessons. It could be the single worst thing to start with. It's like with musical instruments - which have the same grades and price ranges from beginner to pro models. Most people who take music lessons to start end up hating it and quitting. In both cases, servicable and basically functional equipment is all you need.
To be good, athleticism not lessons will decide. With music and golf sticking with it is most important and that comes from INTRINSIC REWARDS!!! If you find yourself staying up at night reading about golf (for more than the honeymoon period), or really wanting to know if you're aligment is correct, well hey run out to all these wonderful sources and teachers. Otherwise, go out and smack the ball, it's really fun!!!
1/7/10
 
onedollarwed says:
I've been teaching a lot of things for a lot of years, and if you needed to break 80 to inherit your trust fund, by all means go out and buy nice equipment and start lessons yesterday. But if golf is not a requirement (and it can be. When I was teaching golf many students were middle aged women being dragged along on golf vacations to fantastic destinations who didn't want to be widowed or laughed at on the course), why treat it as such. I mean... all of us here are addicted, so it's kind of a requirement. Turning it into a requirement can extinguish the interest, and then you could be failing on purpose to extinguish the obligation to improve.
Then again if you have money you don't know what to do with and you're collecting rare motorcycles and rarer poodles, spend, spend, spend.
I still say golf is the most fun for the least money for the most time with the least chance of injury.
1/7/10
 
Tim Horan says:
@onedollarwed - wrong clubs and no lessons breeds bad golf habits (hard to rectify), lessons with wrong clubs can cause bad golf habits (also difficult to remedy). IMO lessons first get advice on clubs from the pro, not from a golf store, then go out and have fun.
1/13/10
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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