Why Do Golfers Have Several Clubs?
Golfer’s clubs can be divided into four basic classes: drivers, irons, spoons and putters. All four are shaped for different purposes and are used according to the ground the golfer is playing on and the shot he intends to make.
Wooden drivers are used for the first stroke from the tee. Spoons are designed chiefly to get a ball out of a rut. Various irons are selected for the approach to the green, where the putter is brought into play for the final shots.
Usually a good player’s set will include seven to ten irons and three to four wood clubs. The different clubs are known by both number and name. Wood clubs are numbered one to five—the fifth sometimes replacing an iron—and irons from one to ten. No more than 14 clubs should be carried by a player during a round.
While 14 clubs is a maximum, it is not a minimum; players are free to use any lesser number of clubs they think will be useful, so substitutions for the common omissions above are not always made; a player may simply choose to play without a 5-wood or 2–4 irons, instead using a 4-wood and moving directly to their 5-iron as desired distance decreases (a 4-wood in a skilled golfer’s hands averages 200 yards; a 5-iron in the same player’s hands would be about 160, which is a large gap but not unplayable).
Other clubs may be omitted as well. On courses where bags must be carried by the player, the player may take only the odd-numbered irons; without the 4, 6 or 8 irons (the 3 is sometimes removed instead of the 4) the bag’s weight is considerably reduced. Carrying only a driver, 3-wood, 4-hybrid, 5-7-9 irons, pitching and sand wedges, and a putter reduces the number of clubs in the bag to 9; this is a common load-out for a “Sunday bag” taken to the driving range or to an informal game.
A skilled player can usually overcome the lesser selection of club lofts by reducing their swing speed on a lower-loft iron and/or placing the ball further forward in their stance to get the same carry distance and/or launch angle as the next higher loft number.