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If you are thinking of picking up golf for the first time or perhaps you’re coming back to the game after a hiatus, you’ll need to figure out the right way to kit yourself out. Broadly speaking, you have two options. You could either go for a package set that provides you with everything from driver to putter (and even a bag) or make up your set by selecting the clubs on more of an individual basis.
Both approaches have their pluses and minuses. In this article, I’m going to explain, from my experience, what those are and what to look out for anyone choosing to go down either route.
Package Sets Buying Advice
Over the last year we’ve tested the best golf club sets and been very impressed by the combination of performance and value for money. Most of the leading golf brands have offerings in this department and we were particularly impressed with the TaylorMade RBZ Speedlite and the PXG 0211 Z. You’ll also find some more affordable options like the Strata Package Set and the Inesis 100 Set from Decathlon. You may have fewer options when it comes to package sets but simplicity is the key here and with relatively little homework, you should be able to find something that suits your needs.
First and foremost, this is likely to be the easiest and most stress free way to kit yourself out. Yes, it pays to do some research but once that’s done, one click and you’ll be ready to hit the fairways (barring a few golf balls and maybe some shoes). It can be very cost effective too. To give you an idea, a premium driver like the TaylorMade Stealth will cost you more than some of the best package sets in our guide. If you’re new to the game or coming back to it after a break, the best golf club sets for beginners will be more than enough to get you up and running.
Another plus point is that you’ll end up with a set that looks smart and makes sense. Most package sets are aimed at regular golfers and designed to provide solid performance from tee-to-green. The major brands know what the bulk of regular golfers need - most notably forgiveness - and they build that into these package sets.
The main drawback is a lack of flexibility. If there are certain clubs in the make-up that don’t suit your eye or fit your game, you’ll need to pay more to add a different club or put up with something that’s not quite right. In my experience however, today’s package sets have been neatly refined. On the whole the aesthetics are simple and the clubs are generally fairly forgiving without looking too clunky and uninviting. My advice would be to check what the putter and wedges look like before you buy - from an aesthetics perspective, these can be fairly hit and miss, and as these are your scoring clubs. Picking something you like the look of is key.
Another drawback is the lack of choice when it comes to specs. You’ll likely have the chance to choose between regular and stiff shafts but for the most part, this is the extent of the customisation. If you know your specs and want something very specific then building your own bag might be the better way to go.
The other thing to consider here is the bag. Some sets come with cart bags and others with stand bags. Obviously, it’s worth thinking about how you intend to get your clubs around the course before picking the right set for you. It’s also worth pointing out that most of the package sets available are not 14 clubs. This isn’t necessarily a huge problem but for more avid golfers, the resulting distance gaps might be a little frustrating.
Building Your Own Bag Buying Advice
If you decide against a package line-up, then you’ll need to build your own set from scratch. For most avid golfers, this tends to be where they end up with a new driver, irons, putter and so on being added as and when the player sees fit. The good news is that there are enough brands at different price-points, that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the more expensive option. If you’re going down this route, it really does pay to know exactly the specs that will help you play your best golf.
This approach gives you much more flexibility over the types and brands of clubs you carry. A good idea is to set yourself a budget and then work out which areas to devote more of your money to. Don’t forget that there are some good second hand golf club retailers, as well as eBay, that also provide a cost effective way to do this. I recently went through exactly this process, kitting myself out with second hand clubs that came in just under £800. I devoted the lion’s share of my budget to a good set of Cobra Forged Tec irons and was generally pleased with the overall results.
If you go through this process in the best way possible, doing your homework, knowing your specs and getting some expert help, you should end up with a set that’s better tailored to your game. This, ultimately, should lead to lower scores.
If you are building your own bag and doing it without the help of a fitter, it’s easier to make mistakes. With so many decisions to make, covering everything from wedge sole grinds to iron shaft specs, you could easily end up with certain clubs that don’t suit you. Getting it wrong may be costly as you end up needing to reinvest to get the right thing.
With so many choices and transactions to make, this approach is likely to take you longer. Of course, we’d recommend you do your homework, looking at things like the best golf irons and best wedges to get a feel for what might be right for you.
As we mentioned at the start, there are a range of brands at different price-points plus the option to go for second hand clubs so you needn’t spend more doing it this way than with a package set. However, if you are looking to go for some of the best clubs from the biggest brands in each category (even if they aren’t from the current 2022 ranges), then this approach will require a higher level of investment.
Watching your scores improve as you devote more time to the game, is one of the most rewarding aspects to golf. Of course, to improve, you’ll need the right set of clubs for you. The good news is that whichever route you choose to go down, there are plenty of options. Hopefully this helps you make a smarter choice, expediting your journey towards lower scores.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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