How To Build The Right 14-Club Set For Your Game

We take a look at how to optimise your maximum club allowance and ensure you have all eventualities covered...

How to build the right 14-club set
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Golf Monthly created this content as part of a paid partnership with Garmin. The contents of this article are entirely independent and solely reflect the editorial opinion of Golf Monthly.

The rules of golf permit us to carry a maximum of 14 clubs in the bag. This is usually comprised of some combination of woods, irons, wedges and a putter. In this article, we examine how to go about building the optimal 14-club set considering factors from course conditions to the shots you like to play around the greens.


One of the fundamental rules of creating your full set, is to ensure you have reasonably even distance gaps through the set and have as many different yardages covered as possible. 

However, with only 14 clubs to choose from, be prepared that you may 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. Ideally, this should be a club (a fairway wood, hybrid or driving iron) that you feel confident hitting off the tee if you're struggling with driver or you encounter a particularly tight tee shot. 

Whilst a putter could be deemed essential, the rest of the spots in your bag are totally up to your interpretation of what would benefit your game. Some players find having more options for their longer shots is useful and as such load the top end of their bag with some of the best hybrids, best utility irons or best fairway woods. Others prioritise saving strokes in the short game and add more of the best wedges to cover all yardages and scenarios.

Take an honest look at your game and see if a change of strategy with your set make-up could improve your scoring.

Wedge lofts

With distance control being so key to success with wedge play, it makes sense 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. Some of the best portable launch monitors, that include the Garmin Approach R10, can help you with this.

Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor Review

(Image credit: Future)

Ideally you would have around 10-15 yards gap between full swing distances in your shorter clubs. If, for instance, there is a gap of 20 yards+ between your pitching wedge and your sand wedge you might want to consider adding a gap wedge to help improve your pitching distance control. Generally speaking, approximately four degree loft gaps at this end of the bag tends to cover most yardage gaps for the majority of players.

Adding a wedge may require you taking another club out of your bag elsewhere. That's why building the right 14 club set is a jigsaw that requires careful thought!

wedge lofts

With wedges, the general rule of thumb (and every golfer is different) is that longer hitters tend to need more than shorter hitters
(Image credit: Kevin Murray)

Wedge Bounce & Grind

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. That said, the abundance of options in terms of sole width, bounce angle and grinds can be tricky territory to navigate.

However, a well thought out wedge set up will allow you to hit all the different shots required around the greens. Marrying up the bounce angle and grind with your club could make a big difference to your short game and can even help to flatter a less than perfect technique.

We would always advise getting custom fitted for your wedges under the guidance of an experienced fitter who will factor in not only your technique and the shots you like to play, but also predominant ground conditions.


Buying a new driver is no small investment and that’s why, once again, it makes sense to get custom 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 TaylorMade driver next to a Titleist ball on a tee

Driver is a key area of the bag to get right.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A good fitter can help find a set up of loft, shaft and head type to do just that but make sure you are clear on what you are looking to achieve - 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 help to inform the process and improve the outcome! Luckily the best golf drivers have a high level of forgiveness to help improve performance when you make a poor swing.

Course Conditions

This is a key consideration when compiling your golf set; How often do you play at the same golf course? If the answer to this is the vast majority of the time, you should think about the particular and specific challenges of that course when building your bag. 

Factors such as rough length, yardage, prevailing wind and green size should all be considered along with numerous other points. For example a hybrid may help you from thick rough whereas a long iron could 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.

St Mellion Nicklaus course

(Image credit: St Mellion)


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. 

Primarily you need to find a model that compliments your stroke. Some players have a strong arc to their stroke while other are more straight-back-and-through. Different head styles are designed to work more optimally with different strokes and marrying the two up is important. 

If you like to feel more rotation in your putting stroke, you may find better results with putters with a heavier toe-hang. Conversely, if you like to keep the blade relatively square throughout the stroke a more face-balanced offering may serve you better.

Find a putter you love the look of as well. This will always be the most used club in your bag so it is vital that enjoy your time using it and select the best putter for your visual preference.

Photo of a blade and mallet putter

Does your putter compliment your stroke? If not, you could be throwing away shots!
(Image credit: Future)


When it comes to irons there is usually a trade off 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. Some of the best blade irons may provide exceptional feel and aesthetics but will require much more precise striking than some of the most forgiving irons.

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 easier to hit shorter clubs. Many manufacturers now offer this as standard such as Callaway with its 2024 Apex range. Players can even create a three-way combo set between the Apex MB, Apex CB and Apex Pro.

Ultimately, your decision here is all about confidence. You need to find something that when you look down at address you feel able to hit a good shot. As with most of the categories, we would always advise discussing your options with a qualified PGA Professional who will be able to provide sound advice.

Neil Tappin

In July 2023, Neil became just the 9th editor in Golf Monthly's 112-year history. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he has also presented many Golf Monthly videos looking at all areas of the game from Tour player interviews to the rules of golf. 

Throughout his time with the brand he has also 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 2 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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