Trying to Improve - Equipment VS Lessons

I’m about a 18 handicap, consistently shoot in the mid to low 90s, and I’m on the path to breaking 90. My question is, how do I know when equipment will be a game changer versus getting a lesson?

I’ve got a bag of mostly hand me down clubs and I’ve started the (slow) process of upgrading my bag. It’s pretty easy for me to get caught up in what an optimal set-up would be, but I also realize my game probably isn’t good enough to benefit from nitpicking the bounce and grind of my wedges, or the loft angle of my driver.

Sar far, the new wedges I added to my bag have made the biggest impact, but on the flip side, I barely hit my newish 3W. That’s partially because I haven’t practiced with it enough but also because I only need it once or twice a round. It almost feels like a waste of money / opportunity.

The next two things I want to upgrade are my driver and my irons. However, I have conflicting ideas about lowering my scores via lessons or new equipment.

My current bag is:

TaylorMade Burner
Calloway Rogue 3W (recent purchase)
TaylorMade Rescue 3 Hybrid
Calloway X-20s (4i - PW)
Titleist Vokey SM6 Wedges (54 & 58) (recent purchase)
Scotty Cameron Studio Design 1.5

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I have a few recent posts in here regarding a lesson I took. I think if you ask any serious golfer trying to improve they would tell you the same thing. If you want to score better, its all about the lessons. But damn, new gear is fun :tipping_hand_woman:

Echoing what @davidc is saying, but taking it in a slightly different direction. How much do you / are you able to practice? Meaning, do you think you could even shave a few MORE strokes with some practice time (specifically short game, that is where the vast majority of shots are). To answer your original questions, lessons > equipment.

I don’t practice much, but have the availability to do so maybe once or twice a week on the way home from work. The hard thing is choosing practice over playing. I could hit free range balls or walk 9 for free.

Absolutely hear that, practice while you play…a perfectly fine set-up. I guess taking it to square one, what is your goal in golf? Obviously break 90, but then what?

Your clubs are fine. You are fine. Tee it up with better players and you’ll be surprised how your game adapts.

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I guess my goal is to shave 8 or 9 strokes off my handicap and be more consistent overall. I’m “consistent” in my scores, but the reasons for those scores aren’t always the same.

Strong vote for lessons. I think your set up is fine. You could gain most by upgrading your driver (if you want to save money, look at drivers that are a couple of years old), but I don’t think you’ll get a ton of improvement out of it. I don’t think you’d get a ton out of upgrading your irons, personally.

The hardest part of lessons is finding an instructor that’s actually good. There are some great online lessons out there, which can save you a lot of money, too. You could look into that.

I think you’ll improve more by going for the lessons, and the gain will be more long term than with just new equipment.

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Hear that, I would say to try to mix in a little practice in with your weekday 9s…if you can play and then take mental note of what needs some work, and work through it for 30 minutes on the range / practice green, you will see results. But again, at the end of the day, equipment will not be solely responsible for the desired improvement.

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I’m sure you’re right, and I think taking lessons is probably the way to go. I’m just curious how much is to be gained out of getting properly fitted for a set of irons or new driver. Is it the kind of thing that has potential to shave 3, 4 or even 5 strokes off my handicap? I know that’s kind of a broad question without having played with someone.

No. Not unless you’re playing really old equipment (you’re not) or equipment that’s way off for you (unlikely).

For example, I switched irons about 7 months ago. My old irons were 2 degrees off from what I got fitted in. My scores and handicap are virtually the same.

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You can get fit, but you’ll still shank shots, you’ll still hit it fat, you’ll still skull shots over greens. The fitters won’t tell you that. Sure, you’ll be optimized (to whatever you were swing felt like that day) but you still have to navigate the course. It’s a numbers game. Not a swing/smash factor/attck angles game.

Play with better players and watch how they avoid the big ones. Learn how they let the lie dictate what club/shot type they use around the greens. Note how they will chip to the side of the pin that leaves the easier put. Pay attention to how they select a side of a tee box to open a hole up or fit their shape better.

If you are hovering around 90, you’re already there. Just open your eyes and start looking for 80.

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I got fit for new irons last year - first time ever being fit - and kind of spent out the ass for them haha I mean I’ll have them for years, I had a ton of fun and learned a lot during the fitting, but to be honest I didn’t see my scores change much. Fyi, I went from 14 year old cobra game improvements to, at the time, new mizunos with the correct shafts.

Like @pushdraw said, if you have the time to practice and utilize what an instructor will help you with, you’ll see better results. For me, I was about a 12 handi over the last few years and would hit 6 to 8 greens a round. Finally got hooked up with a good instructor (which I admit, can be hard to find) and the last 5 rounds I’ve hit between 10 and 12 greens. If I have a decent putting day I am putting way more rounds in the mid seventies, so I am expecting my handi to drop here soon.

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Thanks for the input. I have to admit the idea of new irons is extremely tempting, and my fiance is wondering what to get me as a wedding gift. But overall, it seems like its something within my control and not something that spending a boat load of $$ will improve. Hitting greens feels like my weak spot right now which is why I thought new irons might be the ticket, but more than likely its a swing or alignment issue.

Exactly. If youre shooting 90. you have the game to shoot 80. The key is knowing your game. Guys who shoot 90 do really dumb stuff. Guys that shoot 80 do less dumb stuff. Guys that shoot 70 have a different game, and do less dumb stuff.

Buy nothing new. If you get way better in a year, you’ll be buying new again. Ebay (especially in this Marie Kondo world) is your friend. Splitting hairs, but if you want to upgrade your x20s, be sure to keep the loft of the PW in your new set in mind so you don’t have to buy another wedge to cover the 50 dgree gap in your set up now. You could probably get a nicer set of high-quality irons around $250-300 and a 2-3 year old driver for $200.

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This might be a part of my problem. While I can consistently shoot low 90s, the reason I’m not breaking 90 can change from round to round. One day it’ll be my driver and the next it’ll be my irons. Those seem to be the biggest factors right because my short game is pretty consistent.

Yup, I mean lessons can be a bit spendy depending on your area, but you will get more bang for your buck. And if you find the right instructor, maybe after a few meetings they could actually give you a professional opinion on how much new equipment might help you. i.e. not just a sales pitch, but they might also know a guy in the area, so it could be a win win.

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Thats not what i mean. What i mean is, “where might this drive go?”. You have an idea. Allow for it. Ask that question before every shot, and make it so the trouble isnt in play.

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I’ve kinda hit a wall around that 90 mark as well (though I’ve broken it a few times, that’s generally the goal when I tee it up).

I got fitted for a new driver this offseason. It was time as the old shaft was about 2 inches too long and the head simply outdated. Anyway…while I’m definitely hitting more fairways, my scores aren’t really improving the way I thought they might. The rest of my game is still too hot and cold. One day I’m hitting greens with ease and missing everything, others I’m needing to get up and down for bogey and burying the putts. Lessons are most definitely needed for me to continuously be able to come in under that 90 mark.