Set of golf clubs

Why So Many Golf Clubs In a Set And What Do They Do? Pros Explain

A standard set of golf clubs includes 14 to 18 different clubs. Why there are so many clubs in a set and which ones are used depends on the type of game you’re playing. A full set will consist of irons, woods, putters and wedges.

The Driver

Used to hit the ball long distances down the fairway or for getting out of trouble when surrounded by thick trees or rough (coarse grass). This club is also called the 1 Iron due to its high loft angle (~10 degrees) and low ball speed (~100mph).

The 2 Iron

The longer, hitting club of the set. This is for longer shots or to hit out of thicker rough (coarse grass). This club is also called the 3 Iron due to its loft angle (~22 degrees) and low ball speed (~100mph).

The 3 Iron

This is a “workhorse” club in a set. When in doubt, this club will usually be your go-to club and it’s great when you’re trying to draw the ball (pull it), but don’t want to lose a lot of distance. It’s less forgiving than the 2 iron but still gentle enough that you can correct mistakes with it.

The 4 Iron

This is a disc golf term for a “jack” or “fade” iron. This is the club you would use in a round to hit an uphill shot, or when you want to more accurately hit the ball left of your lie. A nice feature of this club is that it has the same distance range as it does loft angle (when you compare their loft angles at 25 degrees, 30 degrees, and 35 degrees).

The 5 Iron

This is one of my favorite iron sets and probably one of my least used clubs. The main use for this club is to hit the ball from a long distance out of trouble, or as a finesse shot off the grass.

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The 6 Iron

This iron is also called a Gap Wedge and is great for hitting shots out of the sand (or “gaps”) in your fairway.

The 7 Iron

This iron, also known as the Sand Wedge, has the loft angle (~51 degrees) and lie (64 degrees) that allows you to hit higher, softer shots. It makes getting out of sand traps easy.

8 Iron

Used to hit shots just off the green or when you’re on with your approach, yet need more accuracy than using your putter will give you.

9 Iron

This is used to hit shots that are closer to the pin than your putt, or when you want to take more of a direct line to the cup.

Pitching Wedge

This club is used for lofting the ball up over any obstacles in your way and landing it within 1-3 feet (depending on your handicap) of the pin if you strike it properly.

Sand Wedge

Used for hitting an approach shot from sand traps and getting out with a lot less effort, plus allowing you to get onto the greens easily.

Lob Wedge

Used for hitting higher lofted shots over bunkers or obstacles to get closer or near the green.


Used to roll the ball into the hole. It is usually the most forgiving of all clubs as it’s used close to the green with a lot fewer obstacles in your way, plus your ball will be moving slower at this point.

How Many Clubs Should Be In a Golf Bag?

You don’t need all these clubs to play. When most people start, they usually buy the kind of bag that comes with a putter, 6-iron and 9-iron.

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By the time you’re wanting more clubs, you can buy them individually and not have to pay for a whole new bag or set. 

You can also rent clubs from the golf course or other courses if you just don’t want to invest in a full set right away.

You definitely do not need a golf bag with the full complement of clubs in order to play junior golf.

What’s In Most Pro Golfers’ Bags?

  • 3-4 Hybrids: Used for a variety of shots, basically any shot not over 250 yards from the hole. Hybrids are also used in place of long irons when playing shorter courses as well as sand shots. It is easy to hit these clubs but you can certainly get more distance out of them than a long iron. I personally own a 5-Hybrid and it is by far my favorite club in my bag. It’s versatile and I use it regularly.
  • 9-Wood: Used for any shot over 250 yards and when you’re playing from the fairway. This club is a great, versatile club that will allow you to hit over hazards with ease, as well as increasing your distance. I personally own this club too and find it extremely useful for my game.
  • Sand Wedge: Used when in need of getting the ball out of bunkers or sand traps easily when approaching the green. It has a much larger surface area than your typical iron which gives it more weight, making it easy to get the ball back into play.
  • Putter: The putter is used any time you get near the hole (within 10 feet). It’s also used when you’re laying up and need to lay up the ball to get back in play near the hole. You should aim to make this club as forgiving as possible since it’s the only club that gets used close to the hole.
  • Full Set: This is a special set made for players who are competing on major tours, like the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour or European Tour. Each has a driver, 3 wood, 5-7 irons and a putter which makes 15 clubs in total (the usual bag contains 15 clubs). 
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These sets are expensive to purchase but they can really help your game. The clubs are extremely lightweight, have great balance and work together to help you hit the ball farther and straighter.

These sets are made for professional golfers and therefore, they aren’t meant for amateurs to own.

What’s In a Beginner’s Bag (Advice from the PGA)

Your bag should include: Driver (Longest club in your bag). 5-Wood, 3-Iron (or hybrid), pitching wedge, putter.

If you’re having trouble with your long irons try a “Hybrid,” this is like an iron/wood and will give you better distance than an iron. However, if you still can’t get the distance you’d like, stick with your irons.

The putter is a very important club to own and should be the first club you purchase. It’s the most forgiving club in your bag and helps you get back on track when you miss a short putt.

When purchasing a putter, try out some different models to find one that fits your game.

Don’t make the mistake of purchasing clubs with too much weight at once. I’ve seen many golfers buy clubs that are too heavy for their game and end up getting frustrated by their game after purchasing them.

“Hybrid” golf clubs are great for beginners because they can be used as both an iron or wood, giving your game versatility.