A golf club is a club used to hit a golf ball in a game of golf. Each club is composed of a shaft with a grip and a club head. Woods are mainly used for long-distance fairway or tee shots; irons, the most versatile class, are used for a variety of shots; hybrids that combine design elements of woods and irons are becoming increasingly popular; putters are used mainly on the green to roll the ball into the hole. A set of clubs is limited by the rules of golf to a maximum of 14 golf clubs, and while there are traditional combinations sold at retail as matched sets, players are free to use any combination of legal clubs.
The most significant difference between clubs of the same type is the loft or the angle between the club’s face and the vertical plane. It is a loft that is the primary determinant of the ascending trajectory of the golf ball, with the tangential angle of the club head’s swing arc at impact being a secondary and relatively minor consideration (though these small changes in swing angle can nevertheless have a significant influence on launch angle when using low-lofted clubs). The impact of the club compresses the ball, while grooves on the clubface give the ball backspin. Together, the compression and backspin create lift. The majority of woods and irons are labelled with a number; higher numbers usually indicate shorter shafts and higher lofts, which give the ball a higher and shorter trajectory.