There’s this perception that golf is a game for rich people and that if you don’t have lots of spare cash you can’t really play. I want to prove to you in the next few paragraphs that’s not the case.
So, how much does it cost to start playing golf? A full set of clubs (driver, woods, irons, wedges and putter) along with a bag can be picked up from online retailers like Amazon for around $200-$250. For most public courses you don’t need any special clothing. The only other thing you’ll need to pay for are green fees which at a public course may run you around $20 a round. Golf is not that expensive to start!
So then, what equipment do you need and how much can you expect to pay for it?
Well, the best (and cheapest) route to get started with golf is to buy a package set. There’s a lot of options from different equipment manufacturers. Normally, these sets will include everything you need to get started like all the clubs (driver, irons, putter) and a bag to keep them all in. They typically won’t include any balls or tees but these are the cheaper accessories.
I personally like some of the package sets available on Amazon. They shouldn’t run you more than $300-$350 brand new and will probably last at least your first couple of years if not longer.
This is the “Big Dog”. The club you like to smash as far as you possibly can that puts you 300 yards down the fairway (hopefully) and leaves you a gentle pitch shot into the green for an easy birdie. Ok, if you’re just starting out that’s pretty much not going to happen. More likely, you’ll be spraying your tee shots left and right (or sometimes straight up!) with this club and will be happy to get it going in the general direction of the hole.
Driver is a notoriously difficult club to use well. It’s very unforgiving (even though it has the largest sweet spot of any club in the bag). This is mainly because it’s also the lowest lofted club you’ll hit (aside from putter) and that means any point the club face isn’t square to the target you will see the ball curve.
Should you not bother with a driver then? Many players starting out find it easier to hit a 3 wood because of the extra loft, even though it has a smaller club face and sweet spot. In fact, starting out many new players can actually hit the 3 wood further. I’d definitely persist with driver though. You want to be able to hit this and the sooner you start practising the sooner you’ll pick it up and start hitting it well and the extra yardage will come.
You ideally want to be looking for a driver that is minimum 10.5 degrees loft in a 460cc head. The head size is the largest allowed under the rules and 10.5 degrees is just enough loft to help you get the ball airborne. You can get drivers with 12 degree loft which will help you carry the ball further but which will have less run out. They are definitely an option I like, in fact I use the RAM Laser Offset (Amazon) in a 12 degree configuration as the off set helps correct your slice to a certain degree.
For a driver you should be expecting to pay no more than $150 for a new one from a decent brand. If you want the drivers you see the pros using on tv however, you’ll be looking more like $350 and up.
These are the next longest clubs in the bag. Traditionally golfers would carry a 3 and a 5 wood for approach shots on long par 4’s/5’s. Over the last few years thoughmany players have started taking one of the woods out of the bag and replacing it with a hybrid. In fact, I wrote an entire post on what they are and why you might want to use them so feel free to check that out.
The 3 and 5 wood are normally a bit shorter than the driver, so easier to control. They’re around 15 degrees for the 3 wood and about 18 degrees for the 5 wood. You should be looking to hit them around 190 to 230 yards.
Hybrids come in a range of lofts. Anything from 18 degrees up to about 25 degrees is pretty common. For most players they’re generally regarded as easier to hit off the fairway than woods as you can use the same swing you would with an iron rather than having to learn a new technique. I’d suggest trying each type of club though to see which you get on better with.
You want to make sure you don’t have corssover in your bag though – there’s no point having two clubs that go pretty much the same distance as that just wastes a slot in your bag you could use for something else (don’t forget there’s a max of 14 clubs allowed), plus it means spending extra money that could be spent playing instead!
You’re probably looking at no more than $100 for something to get you out on the course with.
You’ll probably play more shots with your irons than any other clubs. They’ll make up the majority of your approach shots into greens and will be your club of choice off the tee or on a tight hole when you absolutely must find the fairway.
Your choice here comes down to whether you want to play cavity backs or blades. Hint: the correct answer for a beginner is cavity backs. They’re way more forgiving, will help you get the ball off the ground and the game improvement style ones are stronger lofted to help you hit it further. There’s not really much else to say on these – just get cavity back irons!
These should not set you back more than $250.
Wedges are sometimes referred to as the “scoring clubs”. If you get good with these from 100 yards in you will absolutely crush your golf scores and very quickly become a proficient golfer!
There’s normally several options. Most sets will come with one or two wedges. Nearly always a pitching wedge (generally between 42-48 degrees loft) and sometimes a sand wedge (normally 55 or 56 degrees loft). Now while the sand wedge is designed to get you out of bunkers it is also useful from 80 yards in of you want to hit shots that will stop quickly. Many players though will carry an additional wedge that fits in between the pitching and sand wedges (normally around the 50 degrees loft mark) so that they don’t have a big gap in the distances between clubs.
A decent set would be max $150.
Possibly the most important club in your bag. You will almost certainly hit this more times than any other club. There are so many options for different types of putters – you can have face balanced, toe hang, center shafted, mallet stype, old school blades – the list goes on. Really, as a beginner it doesn’t matter what you choose! It will be far more beneficial for you to spend time practicing green reading and putting technique rather than worrying over which putter you’re using for what will be very marginal gains!
The price range on these is vast with the models tour pros use costing hundreds. For your first one though just choose something you like the look of and don’t be paying more than $50.
Other Stuff You Need
Balls and Tees
If you listen to people who have been playing for a while they’ll all have their own opinion on the best golf ball to use. Some swear by Titleist Pro V1’s…others will only use Taylor Made TP5’s. Honestly, as a beginner, you’re going to lose A LOT of golf balls. Your only consideration at this point should be price. Just find the most inexpensive ones you can and use those!
Some people will recommend using lake balls. This isn’t necessarily the worst idea. Just do your due diligence – some sellers have been known to take a cheap ball and re-paint it and add the logo of a much more expensive ball and sell it for a premium price!
A good quality ball from a brand like Srixon shouldn’t be more than $25.
I’d written about this before. You absolutely DO NOT need to invest a fortune in special clothing for on the golf course. Many places will have some kind of dress code but a lot of public courses will not. I’d suggest sticking to these types of courses at first and just enjoying the game while you’re learning and wearing a tshirt, shorts and a regular pair of sneakers. If you decide you want to go all in and buy an entire golf outfit then be my guest, just know that it’s not necessary!
This really depends on where you decide to play. If you already have an existing membership at a country club or similar then congratulations, you probably don’t have to shell out for any additional green fees! For the rest of us though, we’ll probably want to start playing at public courses to keep the costs down.
For a decent course you’ll probably be looking at up to about $25 a round maximum. Try using websites like golfnow.com to find short notice tee times in your area as you can get some amazing deals that way and save yourself a fortune!
So as you can see, golf can pretty much be as expensive as you want to make it. If you’re starting out I’d definitely go with the package set I mentioned at the start of the post. Over time you’ll probably want to start adding and replacing different bits of equipment. It does become something of an addiction, constantly looking for the newest equipment to help you try and squeeze out that little advantage over your friends!