A player usually carries several clubs during the game (but no more than fourteen, the limit defined by the rules). There are three major types of clubs, known as woods, irons, and putters. Woods are played for long shots from the tee or fairway, and occasionally rough, while irons are for precision shots from fairways as well as from the rough. Wedges are irons used to play shorter shots. A new type of club called a hybrid combines the straight-hitting characteristics of irons with the easy-to-hit characteristics of higher-lofted woods. A hybrid is often used for long shots from difficult rough. Hybrids are also used by players who have a difficult time getting the ball airborne with long irons. Wedges are played from difficult ground such as sand or the rough and for approach shots to the green. Putters are mostly played on the green, but can also be useful when playing from bunkers or for some approach shots. Putters have minimal loft, forcing the ball to stay on the putting surface when struck. The most common clubs to find in a golfer's bag are the driver, 3-wood, numbered irons from 3 to 9 (with hybrids commonly replacing the 3 and 4 iron), pitching and sand wedges, and a putter. Players commonly also carry a 5-wood, and/or additional wedges such as a gap or lob wedge.
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Rangefinders allow a golfer to measure exact distance to the hole from their current position; they are illegal according to Rule 14-3 of the rules of golf, but the USGA allows individual course clubs to institute a local rule permitting rangefinders, and they are common among recreational golfers. The typical rangefinder is an optical device that is aimed by sighting the scope on the flag and using the calibrated gauge in the optics to estimate the distance based on the flagstick's apparent height. Other rangefinders estimate range using a calibrated focus or parallax control; the user sights the target, brings it into focus, and reads the distance mark on the control. Newer laser rangefinders operate by simply sighting any target and pressing a switch to take a very precise distance reading using an invisible laser. Newer golf carts often include GPS tracking which, combined with an electronic map of the course, can serve a similar function.
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