PhotoOpen any golfing magazine and you'll be hit with an avalanche of ads: golf clothes, golf balls, golf gadgets and -- perhaps the most most expensive item of all -- golf clubs.

You're assured that if you buy any of this stuff, your game will improve. But since clubs are the big ticket item, let's concentrate on that area.

Does the brand, cost, or design of a set of clubs really make a difference – particularly if you're like most of us who try to get out on the course without embarrassing ourselves?

Rather than take this question to the golf club manufacturers, whose primary goal is to sell you a set of clubs, we thought we'd go to the duffers and see what their experience has been.

What the duffers say

The internet is loaded with sites filled with people who love to share their opinions -- for free.

For example, a golfer calling himself Six Ate, writes on the straightdope.com site, “When you start golfing, you will suck. Hard. You will suck equally as hard with a $100 set of irons like the ones I started with, as you will with a $1500 set of irons.

“My advice: Buy the $100 set and take some lessons. Play on those for a year and decide if you're going to stick with it. Then start looking for more expensive clubs that could possibly help your game”.

Bobtrumpet, writing on thesandtrap.com recommends lessons first. "Have the instructor check your clubs and see how far out of whack (or not) they are for you.," he advises.

"Since the instructor will probably (though not always) have you work on something with just one club (reducing the variables) for the first couple lessons, having new fitted clubs may not be that necessary at first."

Check with the pro

Patrick McCarthy, Director of Instruction at Broad Run Golf and Practice Facility, in Bristow, Virginia (Full disclosure: This is where I play and have taken lessons), is of two minds.

"The types of clubs used do make a difference to the game of a weekend golfer," he told ConsumerAffairs. The technology put into golf clubs has advanced so much in the last 20 years. A lot of this game has to do with confidence when standing over the ball and newer technology without a doubt helps in that aspect.

But, no matter how pricey your clubs may be, you have to know what you're doing with them.

"I do feel that lessons will allow any golfer to have a more enjoyable experience on the golf course," McCarthy continued. "All the YouTube videos and tips from your buddies might not help that certain flaw in your swing that a teaching professional can pick up on. A brand new set of clubs can't teach the golfer the core fundamentals of the swing."

So, what it seems to come down to is putting the horse before the cart. After all, would you go out and buy a new Maserati before you have a driver's license?

Learn more in the ConsumerAffairs Golf Club Buyers Guide.


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