Driver and fairway woods
Every golfer should have a driver in his bag. It can be a difficult club for a new golfer to hit, but it is one that he should aspire to and practice with when he is at the driving range. A 3-wood is a decent choice and so is a 5-wood. The latter club is significantly lighter than the 3-wood and many golfers find it much easier to swing. Some golfers may prefer a hybrid club to replace their 5-wood.
Put a 3-, 4-, 5- and 7-iron in your bag. The 3-iron can be one of the most versatile clubs in the bag. Not only can you hit a long fairway shot with it (180 yards or more), you can also use it from the rough and improvise as a shotmaker when chipping. The 7-iron is also quite versatile and can be used on any shot from 140 yards on in.
Short irons and a putter
A new golfer will probably have a 9-iron, a pitching wedge, a sand wedge and a putter. However, once you have gotten used to the pitch shot, you may want to add a gap wedge for shorter pitch shots. The putter, of course, will determine how you do on the greens and you should find one that feels extremely comfortable in your hands and swings with pendulum efficiency.