We take a look at how to build the right 14-club set considering factors like the condition of the courses you play to the shots you like to play around the greens
How to build the right 14-club set
This is one of your most important considerations. The basic rule here is to ensure you have even distance gaps through the set. However, with only 14-clubs to choose from you may well need to compromise somewhere - this will likely either be at the top end of the bag with your fairway woods, hybrids and long irons or at the bottom end of your bag with your wedges. When thinking about the combination of fairway woods, hybrids and long irons to carry - always consider having a second driving option. This needs to be a club (a fairway wood, hybrid or driving iron) that you feel confident hitting off the tee if your driving goes off or if there are hazards in the landing area of your driver. Once you have figured that part out, you can then build the other clubs around it based on which options you feel most confident using.
6 Wedge lofts
Again, it makes sense to try to have even distance gaps at the bottom end of the bag. It is a good idea to check your carry distances (overall distances will depend on variable ground conditions) to see what those gaps are. Ideally you would have around 10-12 yards gap between them. If, for instance, there is a gap of around 20 yards between your set wedge and your first specialist wedge you might want to consider adding a gap wedge to help improve your pitching distance control.
This might then lead to you taking another club out of your back at the top end. That's why building the right 14 club set is a jigsaw that requires careful thought!
5 Wedge Bounces & Grinds
When it comes to wedges the temptation can be to pick something up in the pro shop and if you like the feel and look, to buy it. However, a good wedge set up will allow you to hit all the different shots you like to play around the greens. Marrying up the bounce and grind angles with the way you deliver the club to the ball could make a big difference to your short game. We would advise getting fitted for your wedges under the guidance of a fitter who can see your technique and the shots you like to play.
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Buying a new driver is no small investment and that’s why it makes sense to get fitted. Whilst of course you need to find a model that can optimise your launch angle and spin rate, you also need to think about your own shot pattern. Do you want to try and take a certain miss out of the equation? A good fitter can help find a set up to do that but make sure you provide this information - it could make all the difference. On the day of the fitting you might hit every shot down the middle. That's great for your confidence but in this scenario it is well worth talking through your consistent miss - it can only inform the process and improve the outcome!
3 Course Conditions
This is a big one. How often do you pay at the same golf course? If the answer to this is the vast majority of the time, you should think about the challenge of that course. In particular, how thick is the rough and is it usually windy? A hybrid will help you from thick rough whereas certain iron models and wood set ups will provide a slightly lower, more controlled ball flight - ideal in the wind. Does your course require you to hit a lot of shots from 200 yards. Do the majority of holes require the same shot shape off the tee? These are the questions that are well worth asking yourself before making important purchases!
As with the wedges, a putter can be an impulse buy and as such can lead to some simple mistakes when thinking about how to build the right 14-club set. However, there is a lot to consider here too. You need to find a model that feels good and provides you with the best control on the greens you most often putt on. You also need a model that compliments your stroke. Some players have a strong arc to their stroke while other are more straight-back-and-through. Different heads are designed to work with different strokes and marrying the two up is important. Assessing your own stroke and then doing some research on different models before you buy is sensible.
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When it comes to irons there is usually a tradeoff between distance and forgiveness versus ball flight control and feel. You will need to work out where on the spectrum between the extremes your perfect iron set lies. However, one thing to consider is a blended set - something that offers good distance and forgiveness in the long irons and more control in the shorter clubs. Ultimately, it is all about confidence. You need to find something that when you look down at address you feel able to hit a good shot. Blended sets can be a great way to do this so consider this when going through a fitting.
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 TSR2 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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