There are items every golfer must have, from the casual amateur to the pro golfer doing the circuit.
Golf shoes are essential. These shoes have spikes sticking out of the soles to improve traction and footing while swinging at the ball. Golf balls sport dimples that make them "fly" farther. Of course, tees are important: handy little posts that stick in the ground and hold the ball above the grass where you are swinging.
Every golfer needs an assortment of clubs. The need for a particular club varies depending on the circumstances: ground surface, whether or not a tee is being used, sand traps, etc. Certain clubs are used for specific swings; these are called drivers, woods, putters and wedges. Kiddie golfers require shorter clubs usually called a junior set. Junior sets come in different lengths, so even the youngest set can learn to play golf with the right equipment at hand.
Golf club shafts are usually made of graphite composite or stainless steel. Complete sets include woods, irons, a putter and a bag. These pre-made sets typically make a better choice for the brand-new golfer. More experienced golfers develop preferences for different weights, sizes and lengths.
Golf clubs come with grips of varying material, hardness, size and texture. The grip and how it feels in the golfer's hand will affect his or her swing. Starting with a standard-size grip, the golfer should grip the club as usual and follow these directions from Dick's Sporting Goods retail outlet:
"Remove the right hand from the club (left hand for left-handers), and with the left hand remaining in the exact same gripped position, bring it up so that the fingertips are visible. If the two center fingertips dig into the heel of the palm, the grip is too small. If the fingertips barely touch or just miss touching the heel of the palm, the grip is correct."
Choosing a golf bag has more to do with the golfer's individual personality than anything else. There are a few choices as to the type of bag: a bag the golfer or caddy can tote, a bag that straps to a golf cart (sort of like a luggage carrier), or a traveler's bag, which closes entirely to protect the contents and to prevent the clubs and other accessories from falling out. Bags often come with external and internal pockets to stow golf balls and personal accessories.
For the willing golfer, there are countless useful accessories, such as portable GPS units, covers to protect club heads, sunglasses to reduce glare, gloves to minimize moisture when gripping the club, putting aids, towels and more. Ball markers help keep track of golf balls even when there are multiple players on the course. With careful planning, new golfers can outfit themselves for the game of golf at reduced secondhand prices.
The proper apparel also should be considered. Never wear jeans, shorts, T-shirts or gym shoes on the golf course. It's best to wear a golf shirt and long pants. Hats are an absolute must considering the long hours spent on a course under the hot sun.
Many golfers invest in training aids. Spheres, golf nets and cages help maintain proper and consistent swings. Additionally, there are putting mats, tees that sit on hard surfaces, instructional DVDs and videos, books, mirrors to watch your golfer's stance and swing, and even digital golf gloves.
One brand of digital glove, the SensoGlove, offers "increased sensitivity for a more accurate pressure read to ensure a consistently smooth and powerful golf swing for greater distance and lower scores," explained Karen Thomas of Thomas PR. "SensoGlove teaches you the correct grip pressure for a smooth, consistent swing." SensoGloves cost $89 a pair (replacement gloves are available for $22.48) and are made of cabretta leather; the built-in digital monitor can be removed to use SensoGlove as a regular golf glove.
Places to shop for golf gear and apparel include sporting goods stores and golf course pro shops. Such outlets tend to staff someone who can offer guidance when making your purchases. There are also online stores, but always be careful when dealing with long-distance checks and transactions.