These are the 3 most important clubs in your golf bag

golf bag set clubs

Maximizing three areas of your golf bag can quickly help lower your scores.

Ryan Barath/GOLF

When it comes to shooting lower scores and playing better golf, modern stats help us quickly and easily recognize what clubs are the most important, as it pertains to scoring. Knowing what those clubs are and properly understanding their specs can help you properly analyze potential change and when it might be time to upgrade — so let’s dive in.


three drivers
Optimizing your driver can help immediatly lower your scores. GOLF

Year in and year out, the driver is the most important club in the bag for professionals. For amateur golfers, it’s even more important because most don’t have the same ability to generate 300-yard pokes on a regular basis — something many professionals do on command.

How far golfers at every handicap level hit their drivers, according to data
By: Ryan Barath

The way that I put this into perspective for those who still try and use the old phrase “drive for show and putt for doughis that it is almost impossible to take a penalty stroke with your putter by hitting it into a hazard or out of bounds, but with a driver, it’s a lot more likely.

Having a properly fit driver plays a significant role in consistent contact, which in turn can lead to more opportunities from the fairway. All of these things hopefully reduces the risk of bringing a big number into the equation.

So when looking at your driver, or looking to upgrade by working with a fitter, focus on keeping your spin rate in check, maximizing carry distance, and choosing one that helps reduce your dispersion without sacrificing overall distance.

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ClubTest 2023 iron reviews
The right iron will help you hit better approach shots. GOLF

Once you get off the tee, the next club you are likely to hit is an iron, and so rather than one club, the next most important club in your bag is your iron set and how you choose to build it.

Having a set of irons that best fits you based on your swing speed and skill level can offer a big advantage for hitting it closer and missing less often, and when you miss it less often, you put less stress on your short game, and boom! You start lowering those scores. (Yes, I realize this is still easier said than done.)

Handicap range and greens hit in regulation. GOLF

The 3 most important details to understand when looking at your iron set are the “Three Ds”: distance, dispersion and descent.

When it comes to distance, you want to have a set of irons that offers you the most distance possible while also providing proper distance gaps between the clubs in your bag. There’s no point in having two or three clubs that all go the same distance.

As for dispersion, having a smaller miss pattern puts you at less risk of hitting it somewhere you don’t want to be around a green and also gives to the confidence to aim closer to your intended target.

Last but not least descent aka. descent angle is the angle the ball comes into the ground at and the steeper the angle the more stopping power you have when hitting into a green. Too many golfers focus strictly on iron distance and sure it’s one thing to hit 6 iron 200 yards but if it only carries 170 yards and doesn’t stop for nearly 100 feet, you’re going to put yourself into a world of trouble.

So if you find yourself a set of irons that can do all three you’re going start knocking down more flagsticks.

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A golf bag with several golf clubs protruding from it
Wedges help you score and save you shots Ryan Barath

I know what you’re probably thinking — how can wedges be more important than a putter, well, let me explain.

Although every golfer is going to three-putt at some point, a huge reason for that is based on proximity to the hole and just like with your driver and irons, reducing dispersion instantly puts you in a better position to make the next shot. On top of that amateur golfers miss a LOT of greens (you saw the pie graphs above right?), and when you miss greens you have to get those next shots onto the green as quickly as possible to save strokes.

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When you have the right wedges or even a short game specialty club like the Ping Chipr you give yourself a better chance to make the next putt or at the very least create a situation where you are less likely to 3-putt.

Ping ChipR Wedge

WHAT IS IT? A fully engineered chipping solution that combines elements of a putter and wedge to help golfers improve performance around the greens and lower their scores. WHO IS IT FOR? Golfers who lack confidence with their traditional wedge and frequently struggle with their chip shots around the green. Our research indicates 1/3 of all golfers would greatly benefit from a PING ChipR. HOW DOES IT WORK? Recommended for shots within 40 yards of the green from the rough or fringe, golfers apply a putting-like stroke to achieve distance control and consistency without fear of chunking or blading their shots. THE TECHNOLOGY Hydropearl chrome finish Investment-cast 431 stainless steel Perimeter weighting, high MOI Composite cavity badge Compact size for confidence MicroMax grooves for spin control on chips of every length Shallow face height (between putter and wedge) Cambered sole for versatility from rough and fringe
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If you are a golfer who struggles with your wedges I suggest starting by using the matching gap/approach wedge to your iron set and then have a single 54-56° sand wedge, that allows you to focus on technique and building confidence before adding a higher lofted 58-60° lob wedge.

If you can follow these steps and build your golf game and your golf bag around your driver, irons, and wedges, you’re going to put yourself on the right track to lower scores.

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

Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.