Golf essentials: what equipment do I need?

Golf essentials: what equipment do I need?

Amon Fearon - February 02, 2023

Golf is a fantastic game, but it can be a notoriously expensive hobby with lots of gear and equipment vying for your attention. If you find yourself needing a hand deciding what to take with you for a round of golf, then this guide is for you.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What golf clubs you need
  • Which golf balls are best
  • What clothes to wear when playing golf
  • What other equipment to take


Whether you’re a beginner or a pro there’s something here for you, so read on.


What golf clubs do I need?

Before we answer this question, let’s run through the different types of club available:

  • Woods: This includes fairway woods and drivers. The name remains because the heads of these clubs used to be made from wood, although this is uncommon now. Woods are most often used to tee off, and rarely used on the fairway.
  • Drivers: A type of wood, and usually longest club in a golf bag.
  • Irons: Clubs with angled clubheads, used to play from the fairway or to tee off on short holes. Irons come in a range of numbers from 3- to 9-iron, with higher numbers being shorter and having more loft.
  • Hybrids: A newer type of club which plays and looks, as the name suggests, something like a mix between an iron and a hybrid. These are numbered as well, from 2- to 5-hybrids, and usually a golfer will switch out the equivalent iron from his bag when using a hybrid.
  • Wedges: A group of clubs that look similar to irons and have very high loft, designed for very specific purposes, including playing short approaches, playing out of bunkers, and chipping.
  • Putters: Clubs with flat faces designed to hit the ball along the ground rather than into the air and used when you arrive on the green to get the ball to the hole.

For clubs with numbers, the general rule is that the higher the number, the higher into the air the ball will go when you hit it. And as a result, the overall distance of the hit will be lower.

Playing golf requires an understanding of distance, and as you get more familiar with your clubs and clubs in general, you’ll get a better feel for the best club to use in each situation.

Generally, beginners opt for a smaller selection of clubs. Special beginners club sets often include a driver, a couple of irons, a sand wedge, a pitching wedge, and a putter. 

If you play at higher levels you may be subject to a regulation maximum of 14 clubs in your bag. This is unlikely to be prohibitive, but it’s always best to check before you hit the links to make sure you don’t inadvertently fall afoul of any rules.


You should take at least one wood for any game of golf, just to give you a good chance at hitting higher distances from the tee. It’s possible to play a round without one, especially on academy courses which have shorter holes, but we’d always recommend at least one wood.

Hybrids and irons

The exact combination will be a matter of personal preference, but no golf bag is complete without at least 2 or 3 irons or hybrids. These are the clubs you’ll be using most - any time you’re not on the tee or the green - and a decent selection gives you more choice of how to play.

Bear in mind that 3- and 4-irons are trickier to use and may be less useful for a beginner.


These are the clubs intended to get you out of tricky spots, so they’re worth having. Generally, a sand wedge for bunker shots and a pitching wedge for short shots where you need a lot of height will do the trick. Gap wedges and lob wedges are more specialist.


Every golf bag needs a putter, otherwise you’ve got no chance of playing a decent game on the green. There are tons of putters to choose from, so the one(s) you go for will depend heavily on your personal preferences.

Beginner clubs

As mentioned above, if you’re just starting out, you’d do well to look at a pre-packaged set of golf clubs. These are designed to include everything a beginner will need to play a good all-round game of golf.

Fitted clubs

As your game improves, you’ll likely want to invest in your clubs as a way to refine your game. A fitted club takes into account your height and play style and offers a more fine-tuned game than a generic club.


Which golf ball is the best?

You may think all golf balls are the same but, as with everything in the sport, there’s a surprising amount of depth to this question.

Here’s a little about the different types of golf ball:

  • One-piece: if you’ve ever played crazy golf, you’ve likely used a one-piece ball. These are a solid chunk of material, and nowadays they’re rarely to never used in regular golf.
  • Two-piece: the most common type of ball, two-piece balls are a core of high-compression material wrapped in a covering layer. They’re designed to go straight and not spin too much and are targeted at beginner players or those with a higher handicap.
  • Three-piece: a three-piece ball has a layer between the high-compression core and the cover, designed to improve performance. These are meant to spin more without sacrificing distance and are suited to more advanced players.
  • Four-piece and up: here we get more technical: four- and five-piece balls use many materials to offer a more technical game. These are aimed at very high-level players.

To answer the question of which golf ball is best, for a beginner it’s probably a two-piece ball. More advanced players will opt for three-piece or higher.

Quality of materials varies between brands as well, so as your game advances and you decide to invest more in your kit, this will be something to bear in mind.

Also, be prepared to lose balls! The nature of the game means that regardless of how careful you are, sometimes a ball will be irretrievable (at the bottom of a lake, for example) or disappear without a trace. Always carry a few spares in your golf back to avoid too much disruption to your game when this happens.


What clothes do I need for golf?

As we wrote in our blog post about what to wear on a golf course, a reliable standard is chinos, a polo shirt and a comfortable pair of golf gloves. Beyond that there are a few things to consider:

  • What’s the dress code of the club in question? Some clubs are stricter than others, and if you aren’t dressed properly, you’ll be asked to change or, failing to do so, turned away.
  • Is the dress code consistent between the course and clubhouse? This mainly pertains to shoes as most clubhouses don’t want studded shoes, but some clubhouses will have stricter dress codes than the course.
  • Is the dress code consistent at different times of day? More prestigious clubs are likely to enforce evening dress codes which may differ from the daytime one.
  • Are your clothes the right size? Playing golf, you’ll want to be comfortable with a good range of movement. Golfers usually choose short sleeves as a result.
  • Are they made from suitable fabrics? You’ll want a moisture-wicking and breathable fabric to facilitate temperature regulation, and a high-stretch material to keep you comfortable.
  • What’s the weather doing? Grab a gilet or coat if it’s likely to be cold or rainy, and a cap if it’s likely to be sunny. Golf involves long periods of time outdoors and you want to be prepared.

What other golf equipment do I need?

With clubs, balls and golf clothes sorted you might think you’re ready to head out. Think again!

The items in this section will appeal to some golfers more than others, but it’s good to have an idea of the optional extras you might like to bring along.


Gloves are a really important part of a golfer's wardrobe. Traditionally golfers wear a single glove on their weaker hand as a way to improve their grip on the club handle. The additional friction between the glove and the handle reduces the chance of the club slipping or twisting and gives more control over your shot.


There’s almost infinite variation when it comes to tee, with material and size being the main factors that vary. Beginners tend to prefer longer tees as they raise the ball higher from the green, but this is another area where personal preference will dictate your choice. Also remember to carry lots of spares, as tees are prone to fly into the distance or break fairly often.

Golf bag

Choosing a golf bag is more than an aesthetic consideration. This is something you’ll need to be able to carry comfortably for quite long distances - the average golf in the UK is about 3 or 4 miles. Choosing something with a cushioned strap of a suitable length will save you aches and pains later on!

It’s also worth spending a bit of time organising your clubs in a way that makes sense to you. If you’re a beginner this will become clearer over time: keep a note of any frustrations you encounter when playing and rejig your golf bag accordingly. 

Pen or pencil

Most clubs will give you a paper scorecard, so having a couple of pens or pencils in your golf bag is always handy. Definitely carrying a spare: there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a round only to run out of ink or realise you don’t have a sharpener for your only pencil!


As a golfer you’ll spend a lot of time exposed to the elements. A towel is just as good for patting yourself down after a light rain as it is for wiping sweat from your brow. 

Water bottle

It’s really crucial to stay hydrated when playing golf, whether it’s hot or not. The amount of physical activity involved can be deceptive and drinking plenty of water is a good way to protect against headaches or dehydration later on.

Just be aware that you might be quite a long way from a toilet at certain points on the course (although probably never too far from a secluded tree).


It’s always worth having suncream on standby and applying it more frequently than you probably want to. Getting sunburn isn’t fun, and spending hours out of doors increases the likelihood.


You’ll want to be covered if the weather goes the other way, too, which is probably more likely when playing in the UK. A sturdy umbrella that can withstand a breeze is best, as golf courses can get quite breezy.


Golf GPS units are smart gadgets designed to give you real-time information about the course and your game as you play. Depending on the model you go for you can access all sorts of information, and players looking to improve their game can track various performance metrics.

Pitch mark repairer 

Sometimes you fluff a shot and make a hole in the fairway, and in these situations it’s best if you’re able to repair the damage to the best of your ability. These specialist tools slide into a pocket of your golf bag and can be deployed when needed.

Something to mark with

If multiple players’ balls are close to each other, you can remove your ball and use a marker like a coin or plastic chip to indicate where it was. This prevents balls knocking into each other, and arguments about whose ball was where.


You’re ready to go

There you have it: everything you might need to take with you for a game of golf, from the essentials like clubs, balls and clothes, to less obvious items like umbrellas and pencils.

As you play more you’ll get a feel for which gear works best for you, and the incremental refinements to every aspect of your loadout will translate to improvements in your game. 

And as a beginner, remember not to get too strung up on the details. Take what you need to have a good time and focus on enjoying the game.