Choosing the right Irons

This post is designed to give you some help and guidance if you are thinking of buying a new set of irons or are interested in learning more about the different types of Irons and how they can affect your game.

Different types of Irons

Game Improvement Irons :

Player level : Beginner to Improver

These types of Irons are designed for the newer golfer or someone who is having trouble getting any kind of consistency with their iron play. The main features of this type of golf club are a thick sole plate which will help to get the ball airborne and often excessive peripheral weighting which will give better results on off-centre hits .

These Irons often also have an offset head where the leading edge of the club is set back from the hosel, the benefit of this is that it helps to get the hands ahead of the clubface at impact with is a vital component in hitting clean iron shots.

Cavity back Irons :

Player level : Improver to Mid/Low handicap

These type of irons have a cavity in the back of the iron head which will spread weight towards the heel and toe of the club much the same as with the game improvement Irons but often not to the same degree. Cavity backed clubs with even less weight placed towards the heel and toe are referred to as muscle backed Irons, these would suit a more consistent ball striker who strikes the ball more regularly from the centre of the clubface.

Blades:

Player level : Low handicap to professional/scratch player.

Bladed Irons are as the name suggests irons with a thin sole plate and no cavity in the back of the head. These types of irons are usually favoured by more experienced players usually with a very low handicap. Blades are almost always made from forged steel and the benefit of this is that it improves the feel of the club at impact and will give the players more feedback on his/her shots. The other benefit of bladed irons is it is easier to shape the ball, this means to intentionally move the ball in the air from left to right or vice versa.

The reason these irons only really suit more experienced players is that the sweetspot on the club is very small and off-centre hits will produce poor results, unless you hit the centre of the clubface on a regular basis you will get far more enjoyment from the game using the other Iron types I have mentioned.


Shaft Type

So far we have talked about the head of the golf club but it is just as important to have the correct shaft to suit our level of play and physical abilities. Generally speaking shafts are made of 2 materials, steel and graphite. 

Steel
vs Graphite

Where woods are concerned you will very rarely if ever see a steel shaft, virtually all woods will be fitted with a graphite shaft. With Irons however whilst steel shafts are certainly more common graphite shafts are becoming increasingly popular so which shaft is right for you?

I remember when graphite shafts first came onto the market and to be honest they were pretty poor in comparison to what is available today, they would produce extremely inconsistent results and were very difficult to control due to high torque or twist during the swing. Today however graphite shafts are infinitely better and are starting to give steel shafts in irons a run for their money.

To keep things simple for customers we used to say that if you wanted more distance use a graphite shaft and if you wanted more accuracy use a steel shaft but nowadays it’s a much closer run thing. That said despite the huge steps that have been made in improving the consistency of graphite shafts steel still tends to produce more consistent results where distance is concerned and a more stable feel at impact which is why approximately 95% of tour players are still using steel shafts in their irons. Also, steel shafts can be made much lighter than previously so some of the lighter steel shafts are actually lighter than the heaviest graphite shafts but as a raw material graphite is lighter than steel.

Graphite may be a better option for you if you prefer a lighter and softer feel in your irons or like to have increased feel of the clubhead, graphite also has a ‘dampening’ effect when you strike the ball so is often favoured by players who suffer from joint aches and pains or arthritic pains.

Graphite shafts are also much thicker than steel shafts and with modern technology can now be manipulated during manufacture to enable a far greater choice of playability options to the customer, for example a shaft can be made to feel slightly heavier or lighter at different points of the shaft.

Finally, there is a difference in cost to be considered. Graphite is more expensive than steel so you will generally see an £80-£90 ($105-$120) increase in price in the same iron head fitted with a graphite shaft as opposed to a steel shaft.

To summarize the features and benefits of each shaft material :

Graphite

  • Lighter material allowing more clubhead speed
  • Shaft walls are thicker allowing for more manipulation during manufacture
  • Softer feel due to vibration absorption which can be beneficial for golfers with joint problems or arthritic pain
  • More feel in the clubhead due to lighter shafts

Steel

  • A more ‘stable’ feel at impact
  • More predictable results where distance is concerned
  • Cheaper

Finally, without wishing to insult your intelligence the most important thing is to try the clubs out first. You probably have a graphite shaft in your driver and/or fairway woods but graphite shafts in irons will feel quite different as an iron head is considerably heavier than a modern driver head as a dead weight.

You might see huge differences in the results between the 2 different shaft materials or you may find the difference more subtle but I am certain you will notice quite a difference in the feel during the swing and at impact which is why trying them out is so important.

Summary

To sum up all the above information I would like to reiterate the importance of trying out your potential new irons but to try them alongside your current clubs to give you a true picture of any improvement that the new irons may offer you. It’s also vital that you simply like the look of the irons as well, I can promise you that you will be far less likely to blame your new irons for any bad shots they/you hit if you like the look of them.

There’s no real timescale with regards to how long  you should keep your clubs, they last for many years if you look after them although most of us change our clubs before they actually wear out. It is likely however that you will have them for years rather than months so take some time in choosing your new irons and enjoy the process, it’s very exciting getting a new set of clubs, Good luck 🙂










Putters

This post is to give a basic overview of putters and to provide some basic information to help you to choose the correct putter.

Best Putter For A Beginner

More often than not if you buy a beginners package set it will come with a putter. If it doesn’t or you just wanted to buy your first putter to go with your first set my advice would be to just get a fairly basic inexpensive one. The reason for this is that although the putter is an extremely important club the truth is as a beginner, and I say this with all due respect, you probably won’t really notice the difference between a basic putter and a very expensive one.

Having said that some putters have larger sweetspots than others and as a beginner you are likely to miss the sweetspot more than you will once you have been playing for a while. Some putters have what is called heel and toe weighting and these putters tend to have larger sweetspots so you may want to consider this type of putter initially.

Different Types Of Putter

There are so many different types of putter which is why choosing one can be quite a lengthy process but they are broken down into different types all of which have slightly different features and benefits.

Heel and Toe Weighted Putters : These types of putters have weight placed towards the heel and the toe of the club, the idea of this is to create an enlarged sweetspot which particularly benefits newer golfers but are used by all levels of players. The iconic Ping Anser putter is the most famous version of this type of putter and has been used by tour professionals for decades.

Face Balanced Putters : If you were to lay a face balanced putter horizontally on a table with the putter head distanced away from the edge of the table the face of the putter would remain parallel pointing up at the ceiling. The benefit of this when you are putting is that the putter head stays much squarer just before, during and just after impact which would suit someone who tends to prefer a straight back and through putting stroke.

Toe Weighted Putters : These putters have more weight placed towards the toe of the club so if you were to do the same experiment where you lay the putter horizontally on a table with the clubhead distanced away from the edge of the table the toe of the club would point towards the ground. This type of putter would tend to suit someone who prefers what we call an arcing putting stroke, this is where the putter face tends to open slightly on the backswing, returns to square at impact and then closes on the follow through.

Blade Style Putter : These putters tend to be heel shafted and are favoured by the traditionalist and are less common than in years gone by but you can still find them. They generally have a relatively small sweet spot so not really suitable for newer golfers.

centrally Shafted Putters : As the name suggests the shaft of the club enters the clubhead centrally so the shaft is pretty much directly behind the ball. This type of putter tends to suit someone who also prefers the straight back and through putting stroke.

Mallet Putters : These putters have a semi circular appearance and can either be face balanced or toe weighted. In years gone by they where almost regarded as a last resort for a player that was having putting problems but nowadays it’s not uncommon to see them being used by tour players

Correct Putter Length

A standard length men’s putter is 35″ and a ladies putter is 34″. However it is not unusual for men and ladies to feel more comfortable using various length putters. I remember Phil Mickelson using a 33″ putter to great effect for quite some time so don’t be afraid to experiment with different lengths of putters. A word of warning at this point though, if you are using a mid to high price point putter don’t just have it cut down or lengthened without speaking to a PGA Professional or a custom fit professional as the putter is probably perfectly weighted for its current length, you may need to be have the putter custom fitted.

How Important Is A Putter

The simple answer here is very. You will use a putter for over 40% of your shots so it’s important that you have one that you like and trust. As a beginner the putting aspect of the game probably won’t be as important to you as it will when you become more proficient in the game.

I can remember as a beginner just feeling pure relief that I have manged to get my ball onto the putting surface and the knowing that whilst on the putting green I didn’t have the fear of missing the ball or hitting it into a hedge or pond, although I have de greened the ball a few times in my life haha ( hitting the ball off the green whilst putting). As you start to play more and focus more on your score putting becomes a much more important part of the game, if you look at the men and ladies on tour putting becomes one of the or if not the most important statistic to them.

In Summary

As mentioned previously there are so many different types of putter all with subtle differences and choosing the right one can take some time. What I will say is when you are looking for a putter some will suit your eye better than others and only you will know which one that is and that is very important. Also, it’s absolutely vital that you try it out either on a putting green or even on a putting mat if that is all that’s available, you will soon know if you are going to get on with it or not.

Well very best of luck, if you have any comments or would like some further help please feel free to leave a comment below and I will be happy to get back to you.

All the best

Simon

EnjoyPlayingGolf.com

Disability Golf

 

The purpose of this post is to share the experience and knowledge I have gained in my role as a PGA Professional and more specifically my work with disability groups during my time as County Disabilty Coach with a view to promoting disability golf and raising awareness. I will also provide information and links to groups and organizations who are involved in disability golf.

I thoroughly enjoy my disability golf sessions and find them to be hugely rewarding and they always seem to be very well received by the people who take part in them. Alongside my work within golf I also worked for British Blind Sport who provide sporting opportunities for visually impaired youngsters aged 14-25 and also Sense who support deafblind children and adults. My role’s with British Blind Sport and Sense required me to arrange and assist in all manner of sporting and leisure activities such as horse riding, trampolining, boccia, indoor skydiving, rock climbing, goalball, gym sessions, footgolf and of course golf.

During this time I realised that there must be thousands and thousands of people with disabilities who would love to have a go at golf but may feel it’s not something that they could do or may not know how to go about starting. I know for a fact that I have introduced 100’s of people to golf who would never have even considered playing and I intend to continue doing this but in addition I hope this post will perhaps reach a wider audience.

Is Golf Accessible To All

When people think of playing golf they think of playing 18 holes around a full length golf course and this is traditionally what you would refer to as a round of golf but as I have mentioned in previous posts ‘playing golf’ doesn’t have to be restricted to that alone.

Certain impairments or disabilities may make playing around a typical golf course either very difficult or impossible but that doesn’t necessarily mean playing golf is out of the question. Having said that I went to watch the Disabled British Golf Open and there were competitors with a huge range of impairments using a vast array of adapted equipment so really anything is possible.

Examples of the impairments groups competing in this tournament were Amputee’s, Autism, Asperger’s, Spinal Injuries, MS, Parkinson’s, Golfers in wheelchairs, Golfers with Visual Impairments, Golfers affected by Thalidomide, Frederick’s Ataxia and Golfers with Dwarfism.

The golfers competing in this tournament were playing to a very high standard and I would imagine most had been playing for many years, you can aspire to compete at this level if you wish or play completely for fun and enjoyment without any intention to compete at any level, that’s the beauty of golf you can play at whatever level you choose.

If playing around a full length course doesn’t appeal to you then maybe consider playing golf around a shortened course, sometimes referred to as a par 3 course or a pitch and putt course, or a driving range or maybe on a putting green.

There is a huge appetite for a shortened version of golf and whilst I don’t envision or in fact hope for a time when people no longer play 18 holes in a round of golf there are steps being made for speed golf or types of target golf where you can score points hitting shots from one point.

Golf is becoming more and more accessible if you have a disability but improvements can always be made where this is concerned, if you have any comments on your experiences on this subject either positive or negative I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

Organizations For Golfers With Disabilities

There are a growing number of groups and organizations providing help and information for golfers with disabilities. Please find below some links to various websites and if you know of anymore please send them to me and I will share them on my website.

www.disabledbritishopen.org.uk

www.britishinclusivegolf.org

www.disabledgolf.org.uk

www.golfforall.org

www.edgagolf.com

www.blindgolf.co.uk

www.worlddeafgolf.com

Adapted Equipment

The most common adaption of the golf equipment in my experience has been either shortening or lengthening the clubs and this can easily be done by a Club Professional or can be ordered this way directly from the company usually at no extra cost. Having said that some golfers may need their equipment adapted specifically for them, if you are having any problems in this area please feel free to contact me and I will try to help if I can, if I can’t I will try and find somebody who can help you.

Promoting Disability Golf

This post is purely aimed at promoting golf and it’s opportunities to people with disabilities whether they have never played golf before, already play regularly or are returning to golf after injury or illness. This area of golf is very dear to my heart and am passionate about introducing the sport to people who perhaps had not considered it before.

If you have any information or experiences you would like to share or feel would benefit fellow golfers with disabilities please send me a message or leave a comment below.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this post.

All the best

Simon

EnjoyPlayingGolf.com

 

Best Golf Clubs For A Beginner

Hi Guys

This post is designed to offer some help to you if you are thinking of buying your first set of golf clubs and are not sure which are the best golf clubs for a beginner.

Package sets are very popular nowadays but there are also plenty of suitable beginners sets which you can buy i.e woods, irons, putter and bag separately or even buy the irons individually.

When I first started playing golf it was traditional to buy half a set of clubs and add the other half at a later stage, a half set would be made up of alternate clubs i.e 3,5,7 and 9 irons then you would fill in the gaps as you go and a full set of clubs was made up of 3 Woods and 9 Irons. Whilst this is still possible to do it is often more convenient to buy a package set. Package sets usually consist of approximately 12 clubs (14 is the maximum you are allowed to carry at once) The clubs are an assortment of Woods, Hybrids, Irons and of course a Putter plus a bag and in most cases offer quite a financial saving when compared to buying all the equipment separately.

What Am I Looking For

There are a vast amount of clubs to choose from and obviously as a new golfer that can seem quite daunting. There are certain things however to look out for in a club if you are a beginner which can make the game much easier for you.

What I will say at this stage is that even if you are not sure what you are looking for in a golf club it really helps if you like the look of the club, this might sound obvious but if you like the look of them you are slightly less likely to blame them every time you hit a bad shot 🙂 Clubs have a variety of designs and you need to like the look of them both in the bag and when you address the ball as it will help to install confidence which is essential at all levels of golf not just as a beginner.

When reading through the following advice please bear in mind that we are referring to the irons in the set. It is quite important to have all your irons from a matching set but it’s not necessary to have woods that match your Irons. If you buy a beginners package then the woods included will be designed to match that standard of player but if you are looking to just buy a set of irons then you can add the wood or woods separately.

Hybrids are also very common clubs now for all levels of player, Hybrids are kind of a mix between woods and Irons and are often used to replace long irons (1-4 Irons typically) as long irons can be quite difficult to use in comparison to the shorter irons (5 iron upwards)

Common Features of Beginners Clubs

The things to look out for in a golf club if you are a beginner are :

Larger than standard club heads – The benefit of this is the larger the club head the larger the sweet spot which will give you better results on off-centre hits.

Peripheral weighting – This is where more weight is placed around the outside to the club head which again will give you better results on off-centre hits, this is also sometimes referred to as heel and toe weighting or cavity back golf clubs.

Wider Sole – This is where more weight is placed on the sole of the club giving it a wider appearance. The benefit of this is when you strike the ball more weight gets under the golf ball promoting a higher launch and therefore more height on your shots.

Other Features To Look Out For

Other features manufacturers incorporate into golf clubs to make them easier to use are:

Offset clubheads – This is where the leading edge of the club is set back slightly from the base of the shaft to help to encourage the hands to remain ahead of the club head at impact.

Slightly shorter shafts – This isn’t true of all beginners clubs but sometimes beginners can find a club easier to use if it is a bit shorter than standard. There will potentially be a slight loss of distance associated with this but improved consistency and a better strike can often outweigh any slight loss of distance.

Conclusion

Buying your first set of golf clubs should be an exciting prospect and not one to feel apprehensive about. It is quite easy now to do a bit of research online and get an idea of prices and of the type of club that may be suitable for you and although they may all seem fairly similar it will make the game much easier for you in the early stages if you try and select a club with the features I have listed above.

Lots of people use their beginners sets through to a good standard, you don’t have to upgrade as soon as you become more proficient at golf but by the time you have played for a year or so you will have got a much better idea of the type of golf club that suits you best.

All the best

Simon

EnjoyPlayingGolf.com

How Golf Is Good For Your Health

Hi Everyone,

This post is designed to highlight the health and wellbeing benefits associated with playing golf. These benefits are relevant to anyone who plays the game regardless of their ability and highlights how golf is good for your health.

When you go out onto the course it’s easy to get completely caught up with your swing, how you are playing and how well you are scoring. This is totally natural and I certainly focus on all of those things too. What I want to point out though is that regardless of how you are playing there are so many other things, great things, that are going on as well and these things are so easy to overlook.

We have mentioned before in previous posts that golf is more fun when you’re playing well but regardless of how you are playing every time you play you are going to experience tremendous health benefits.

Below I have listed some of the benefits you can expect each time you play golf.

Physical Benefits

During a full round of 18 holes you will spend approximately 4 hours exposed to the fresh air walking 3-4 miles on flat and undulating ground in (hopefully) pleasant company so that in itself provides excellent physical health benefits. But if we look more closely at this we can identify the actual health benefits playing golf provides and these are :

  • Improves cardiovascular system
  • Improves muscle tone
  • Helps to strengthen lung function
  • Helps keep your respiratory system healthy particularly in adulthood
  • Burns calories and aids weight loss
  • Increases blood flow around the body and to the brain
  • Builds stamina
  • Improves flexibility
  • Encourages better sleep
  • Improves hand-eye coordination
  • Increases life expectancy.

Psychological Benefits

The benefits of playing golf are not just limited to improving your physical health, more and more studies are being carried out into the psychological benefits of playing golf. Getting out onto the golf course gets us out into the fresh air and gets us closer to nature, these 2 things alone can create a tremendous feeling of well-being.

It’s been well documented that physical activity is a proven treatment for conditions such as depression and anxiety in fact walking is often referred to as an ‘anti-depressant’.

The increase of blood flow created during physical activities such as golf can also help prevent conditions such as Dementia and golf can also help to improve self confidence and self esteem and lead to an improved overall feeling of self worth.

Additional Benefits

As well as the benefits that are listed above golf can have many other closely related benefits. Golf can be a great way of developing interpersonal skills, enhancing social connections and helps exercise emotional control. Once you start playing golf it can also be a great way of keeping in touch with friends and also of course a great way of building new friendships as it provides an excellent way of meeting people.

Even if you just become interested enough in golf to want to go and watch a tournament or to walk around the course and watch friends or family play many of the health benefits will be applicable to you also, you will find plenty of people who would be very pleased to have you help them out in a caddying role that’s for sure.

During my 25 years as a PGA Professional I have experienced so many benefits to my own health and have witnessed it countless times in others but have only really appreciated just how golf is good for your health in recent years. It’s so easy to overlook this side of the game which is why I want to help as many people as possible to ‘wake up’ to the benefits golf offers.

A lot of the information I have given as I said comes from personal experience but there has recently been an amazingly in depth study carried out by The Golf and Health Project on all the health benefits of playing golf. If you have enjoyed this post and would like to really find out more on this subject then please click here

Many thanks for taking the time to read this post, as always if you have any questions on this subject or anything related to it please leave a comment below and I will get back to you.

All the best

Simon

EnjoyPlayingGolf.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Start Playing Golf

 

This post is going to be about the process of how to start playing golf i.e where to go, equipment required, possible costs etc rather than how to physically start hitting a golf ball. It isn’t an exhaustive list rather some basic information for someone who is totally new to golf. I will have other posts on the actual game itself which will include instructional information but this is going to be more about the things you need to do and what you can expect when you first start playing.

You’re almost halfway there already.

Have you ever had a go at crazy golf? How about a go on a putting green somewhere or maybe you have just had a putt in the garden. If you have did you manage to hit the ball in the vague direction of the hole? Well if you have had a go at putting at some point in your life then that is almost half the game covered. Statistics show that on average 43% of all shots people play in a round of golf are putts, so there you have it, you thought you didn’t know anything about playing golf and actually you know how to play half a round already (OK 43% to be precise) …. well done.

The Other 57% of the Game

OK so you now have 3 choices depending on your budget.

Low Budget – Simply get yourself a club ( borrow one if possible if not go to a charity shop, car boot sale, golf shops sometimes sell odd clubs new or second hand or look online) go to a local driving range or open field/park that permits golf (not all do though for obvious safety reasons) and try to figure it out for yourself with the aid of books, YouTube or free content on sites like this. If you are lucky enough to know a keen golfer who can help you with the basics that will help.

This is by far the hardest way to get started but it’s not impossible so don’t let having little or no budget stop you.
Seve Ballesteros learned to play with a home made 3 iron on the beach near his home in Spain using stones as he didn’t have any golf balls and he was pretty good. If you’re lucky enough to be so young that you haven’t heard of him look him up, he was a golfing genius.

Mid Budget – Look up a local driving range and inquire about Beginners Group Classes. Most, if not all driving ranges will offer these and they are a great way of learning the basics with a group of fellow beginners. These classes are usually anywhere between 4 and 8 weeks and are great value, the last ones I did for example were £25 ( $33) for 5 x 1 hour lessons with all equipment provided.This is a great way of starting, you will make some golfing friends and you will have a Professional on hand to answer all your questions and to offer guidance.

High Budget – Book yourself some one on one lessons with a PGA Professional. Most Professionals offer a series of lessons for a new golfer which often include a 9 hole lesson at the end or at least an introduction to the course. Obviously you will get more done in one on one sessions and the lessons will go entirely at your pace but of course they are a little bit more expensive. To give you an idea I offer my students 5 x 30 minute lessons plus a 2-hour lesson around the course and the cost of this is £100 ($132) which is about par for the course ( Ouch sorry about the pun but couldn’t resist )

Which one should I go for?

Which of the 3 you choose is down to your budget and how serious you are about playing. It is possible to start playing on a small budget, there are loads of second hand clubs for sale online or why not try charity shops,car boot sales or markets and you only need 1 to get you started, ideally a 7 iron on something similar but it’s not essential.

There is a load of free content and advice online as well, loads of books and DVD’s on all aspects of the game and these can be picked up for next to nothing. Golf isn’t anywhere near as expensive as it used to be although it is still perceived this way sometimes, of course to play the top courses and own the best equipment can be very expensive but that’s true of any sport really isn’t it. You shouldn’t need to buy any equipment initially anyway if you have signed up for group or individual lessons until the lessons are over by which time you will know a bit about the game and will know if golf is for you or not.

In my opinion a great way to start is to sign up for a beginners group class with a PGA Professional. It’s so important to get the basics correct as early in your golfing life as possible and a group class is the perfect way to do this and as mentioned above shouldn’t cost you too much. By basics I mean a) How to hold the club, b) How to stand to the ball and c) How to make a basic swing, plus what each club does and when you should use it. If you have ever seen a set of golf clubs you will see they all have different numbers on the bottom, in a nutshell the higher the number the higher the ball goes, that’s as technical as you need to get as a brand new player really ( they all hit the ball different distances too but don’t worry about that just now)

What’s next

Once you have gone through a series of lessons that’s it you’ve learned golf!! Just kidding 🙂 you never stop learning but you will be ready to have a go at getting out onto a course. If you think of it this way, you can learn how to hit a golf ball on a driving range or practice ground but you need to get out onto the course to learn how to play golf, does that make sense? If you have a par 3 course  nearby that’s perfect but if not try 9 holes around a standard length course as opposed to all 18 as you may find 18 holes a bit too much to start off with. A par 3 course is a course made up of short holes, usually averaging around 100-150 yards.

If you have had lessons with a Professional he/she will be able to recommend a good course to start on. To play 9 holes around a par 3 course takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours as a beginner and 9 holes around a standard length course will probably take in excess of 2 hours so that’s why 18 holes may be a bit much initially. Once you are playing regularly 18 holes will take about 4 hours but you should try to get round quicker than that if you can.

 

In Summary

Hopefully that has given you some idea how to take the first steps towards taking up golf as your new hobby. It really is a great game and can be highly addictive, you probably will have to spend some money to get started but it definitely doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

So go on give it a try, it’s a game you play for your entire life in a very healthy environment and once you start playing you will meet a whole new circle of friends.

If there is something you want to know that I haven’t covered then please feel free to leave a comment below and I will happy to help you.

All the best

Simon

EnjoyPlayingGolf.com