Congratulations! You've joined a minority of golfers, male and female, who hold handicaps in the 11 to 20 range and shoot in the 80s and 90s. Next step -- crashing into the ranks of the elite golfers who score in the 70s. To do so, you need the right equipment for your game. Fortunately, golf equipment has improved in leaps and bounds in recent decades, using space-age materials and actual scientists and aerodynamic engineers to design modern clubs. You'll have to do some work to find the best sticks for you, but they definitely exist, and they will help you hit the ball straighter, longer and more consistently. That translates to more fun on the links.
Golf clubs are designed for three basic levels of ability. Pros and other elite golfers are best-suited to players clubs. High-handicap golfers, who need all the help they can get in terms of equipment, usually find that super game-improvements clubs, sometimes called maximum game-improvement clubs, fit them best. A mid-handicapper is likely to play her best with game-improvement clubs.
If you are an elite player, your clubs will have a smaller and more concentrated "sweet spot" on the club face, since you are able to repeat your swing with a high degree of precision and strike the ball on a smaller sweet spot most of the time. A concentrated sweet spot maximizes your ability to hit the ball far and straight. However, a mid-handicap player needs more "forgiveness" on her mishits, since you don't hit the ball in the center of the club face on a consistent basis. So club designers created game-improvement clubs. A game-improvement club is perimeter-weighted, which means weight is distributed around the clubhead instead of just in the center, creating a larger sweet spot. Perimeter weighting mitigates your mishits in terms of both length and accuracy. Game-improvement clubs also lower the center of gravity of the clubhead, which makes it easier to launch the ball into the air.
Golf has a long and sorry history of sexism. As Stina Sternberg says on the website Golf Digest Woman, golf shops can be "an incredibly intimidating environment" for a woman golfer in the market for gear. In order to find the right game-improvement clubs for your game, she suggests that you begin by researching a number of brands -- many major equipment manufacturers design women's clubs for a mid-handicapper -- narrow your choices down and find a well-stocked golf shop or pro shop with a hitting area to try out different brands and models. Decide which model you like the best, and then have a good club fitter personalize your set.
A good club fitter is like a good tailor -- the club fitter will individualize your clubs to match your particular swing and game. You might need stiffer or more flexible shafts or longer or shorter clubs than the norm. If you are young and strong, you might be better off with men's clubs -- few players on the LPGA Tour are swinging women's sticks. So don't just buy clubs off the rack. Ignore sexist labels as well. So-called ladies shafts, the most flexible shafts, might be way too whippy for a mid-handicapper's game, and your accuracy will suffer as a result. As the "Wall Street Journal" emphasizes, the right clubs can make your swing more efficient, thereby diminishing your frustration levels. Less frustrating? More fun? Sounds like a dream come true for any golfer. ".
- Mike Powell/Lifesize/Getty Images