Will rental clubs mess up your golf swing? | Fully Equipped Mailbag

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Here's how to make the most of your rental clubs.

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Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped Mailbag, sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which we field your hard-hitting gear questions.

I’m traveling with family coming up, and I won’t have room for my clubs. Will using rental clubs mess up my game? – Kevin

Rental clubs are often a necessary choice for golfers who travel for business, with family, or who seek a convenient round of golf without the hassle of traveling with their own clubs. Depending on the location, some courses offer top-of-the-line options, others not-so-much. Sometimes you’re faced with older sets that may include clubs in rough shape.

Regardless of the quality of rental clubs are the course you’re visiting, here are several tips to consider to help you play your best using a set of clubs that aren’t your own:

It never hurts to ask

Contact the golf course in advance to ask about the available rentals clubs and see what they have. Ask about club types, shaft flexes and other options that may suit your needs better. Some courses may have sets tailored for seniors, juniors or players with faster swings. The more you know beforehand, the easier it is to prepare accordingly.

Adjust to different shafts

Rental sets typically feature either R-Flex (regular) or S-Flex (stiff) shafts. While suitable for most players, they may not be ideal if you have a fast or slow swing. Instead of altering your move, adapt your strategy instead. Fast swingers can choke down on the grip and use punch shots for better control, while slow swingers should anticipate a lower ball flight and some left-to-right curve. Additionally, consider adjusting your tempo to accommodate longer or heavier clubs, promoting balance and timing. If they’re shorter and lighter than you’re used to, focus on making better contact with your swing at about 75%, and avoid anything at full throttle.

Modify your shot selection

Rental sets may not produce the same shot distances and types as your own clubs. Expect cavity-back irons and game-improvement drivers, so it’s best to focus on aiming directly at your targets and account for potential slice correction off the tee. In some cases, rental clubs might surpass the quality of your own set, and if available, you may even have the opportunity to purchase the same set from the golf course. How do we know? We’ve seen a buddy fall in love with a set of rental clubs on vacation, only to buy them all and take them home.

Inspect and warm up

Scratches and dings are common on rental clubs, so carefully inspect the set before use. Ensure there are no broken, missing or misplaced components. Minor scuffs or scratches are usually no big whoop, but any cracks, bends or missing weight cartridges warrant exchanging the set. Also, before your round, warm up at the practice area or driving range to become acquainted with the rental clubs. Experiment with various swings to understand their performance and adjust your game accordingly.

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Consider a different golf ball

Since rental clubs may not provide the same shot performance as your own set, using your usual ball might not yield optimal results. Select a ball that aligns better with the rental clubs and adjust your expectations regarding shotmaking capabilities. Opting for a value-driven, mid-range performer makes more sense financially when using game-improvement rental clubs.

Prioritize course management

Playing with ill-fitting clubs emphasizes the importance of strategic play and smart decision-making on the course. Focus on accuracy and shot placement rather than relying solely on distance and power. Embrace the opportunity to refine aspects such as alignment, tempo and course management, and find enjoyment in the process rather than fixating solely on the outcome.

You can still pack essential items

Even if you don’t bring your own clubs, you can still bring along certain golf essentials in your travel bag or suitcase. Consider items like your golf glove, rangefinder, sunblock, portable music speaker, and golf shoes if you can fit them in. Carrying these items allows flexibility in case your schedule opens up and an impromptu round becomes feasible, saving you from additional costs.

Rental clubs can be enjoyable to use, just be sure you know what they are beforehand, have had plenty of practice, and your expectations are in check.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

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Ryan Noll

Golf.com Contributor