Welcome to another installment of the fully featured mailbag sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series where we ask your hard-hitting gear questions.
Do women have to play in women’s clubs? – Stephanie N., Oregon
Absolutely not. Anyone can play any club these days, but there are a few advantages for certain types of players who could benefit from the composition of women’s clubs. And no, women’s racquets are not synonymous with beginner’s racquets (although many think they are) and in most cases women’s sets are designed to work just as well as standard sets.
Again, it depends on how they are specified.
Let’s look at some reasons why a women’s set makes sense (for everyone) and why you might want to skip one and go for a standard set. However, remember – we will speak in general terms and there are always exceptions to the so-called rules.
reasons to buy
Thinner handles and shorter, more flexible shafts
Women’s sets typically have two distinguishing features compared to standard sets. First, women’s racquet handles are usually smaller in diameter for those who have smaller palms and shorter fingers. Second, because most female amateur players have slower swing speeds compared to male amateur players, women’s racquets tend to have shorter, lighter, and more flexible shafts to accommodate slower tempos.
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We say “amateur” here because most professional female golfers have swing speeds just as fast (if not faster) than most amateur males. As for the shorter shaft lengths – that’s only because women tend to be a bit shorter than men (on average).
Higher lofts and more offset
Because amateur women generally have slower swings than amateur men, women’s sets tend to have higher lofts to improve trajectory for extra carry. The offset not only helps reduce slicing, but allows players to launch the ball higher in the air. As? Offset moves the center of gravity of the clubhead further back, increasing spin for higher launch.
Many women’s sets have the same clubheads as standard sets
Not so long ago, women’s sets weren’t taken as seriously as they are today. What you got back then was often a lower quality racquet or set, often with bright splashes of paint. Today’s gear makers rightly take their women’s sets just as seriously as their standard sets.
Some even use the exact same technology but in lighter versions with higher lofts. Take Cleveland, for example. The company’s entire line of women’s rackets mimics its standard offering. The only major differences between the Launcher XL Lite driver and the women’s woods are the shorter shaft, softer flex values and thinner grip.
Some sets contain everything you need
One good thing that we wish we’d see more of in standard sets is the bundle offering. Many women’s sets include everything a player needs – a driver, woods, hybrid clubs, irons, wedges, and sometimes a putter and matching bag. The only guess as to why we’re not seeing this more often with Standard sets is that most players like to mix things up and customize their set. Or maybe they don’t need it all at once. Either way, the bundled set option often found in women’s deals is a good idea. We also love to see a bag. Why isn’t this regular?
reasons why not
If you’re tall, maybe not
As mentioned, some women’s kits have shorter shafts than standard length, which is most likely too short for women who are taller (5’5″ and up). Also, given your size, you can probably generate more clubhead speed by having a wider arc, and a flexible L-Flex shaft may be too soft for you.
In that case consider a standard length set or see if the women’s sets have longer/stiffer options if available.
you have speed
Women’s shafts are usually referred to as L-flex (the L stands for “lady” which makes us wonder why this naming convention has been retained when most women’s sets are referred to as women’s sets and not women’s sets).
Anyway, L-flex is the softest in the shaft flex spectrum (apart from junior clubs), followed by senior flex (A), normal (R), stiff (S) and extra stiff (X).
L-Flex shafts are often only a few grams lighter than Senior Flex shafts. So if you have a driver swing speed in excess of 70 mph, you might want to consider a senior flex for a little more control. If you’re even faster at 80+mph with a driver, a regular flex is probably the right option – along with a standard head, which lofts less than a woman’s head.
You hook the ball
As mentioned, women’s sets inherently have more loft, more offset, and a softer upper. Not only will these specs help you hit it hard, they combine into a potent cocktail to counteract a slice. So if erratic right shots aren’t your problem and/or you tend to hook the ball, you might want to look into a standard set with less offset and stick with standard lofts and an R-Flex or a stiffer shaft.
Ultimately, what works best depends on the individual player, and a competent fitter can help you decide whether women’s or standard clubs are right for your skill level, swing speed, and body type.
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