Best Golf Clubs for the Money: Buyers Guide 2021

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"The bottom line is, the best golf clubs for the money are the ones that fit your skill level perfectly."

Finding the best golf clubs for the money can be difficult, especially with the number of options available on the market and the kind of accessibility you have to top-quality equipment. 

Understandably, you wouldn’t want to pull the trigger and spend that much on equipment, especially if you aren’t familiar with them and unsure if they’re the right fit for you. 

This article will cover the key buying criteria that’ll help you figure out the best deals on the best clubs. Refer to them to achieve the performance you need without necessarily breaking the bank.  

Best Golf Clubs for the Money: Key Buying Criteria

Distance 

You may be wondering if the more expensive clubs will help you cover more distance. The more expensive golf clubs do fly further. They are packed full of distance-enhancing technologies. However, getting a hold of that kind of technology doesn’t come in cheap. 

Golf clubs with lower prices may come with lower-quality components. The said components will most likely wear out at some point. In addition, your strokes may not fly as far as they would if you’re using a top-of-the-line golf club.

However, when you consider the price and the distance, most players will tell you that it’s not worth the extra amount just to gain a few yards using the best golf clubs for the money.

Forgiveness

For many beginner golfers, having a proper set of golf clubs with plenty of forgiveness can make all the difference.

You’ll definitely benefit from forgiveness as a beginner since you’re still working on perfecting your swing and gaining consistency. Since this is the case, you can expect the majority of your shots will still need work. 

Having clubs with plenty of forgiveness can help with both your performance and enjoyment of the game. 

Set Makeup 

Another crucial factor you need to consider is the actual clubs that you’ll find in the set. Some will only have a few clubs, while others will have an entire bag full. The best golf clubs for the money will include a fairway wood, a hybrid to replace long irons, some irons, and reliable short game tools.

The inclusions you need to keep an eye on are the short game tools. They are a must-have in your bag since having only a pitching wedge as part of your set will not suffice.

It’s not easy to get out of select bunker shots while relying on a pitching wedge.  Certain shots truly necessitate the use of specific equipment, like a sand wedge.

Of equal importance is to take note of the putter that comes with the golf club set. If it isn’t a high-quality putter, you’d have to get one. Of course, you can always sell the one that came with the complete set. Choose a putter that feels right for you, but most importantly, one with the right length.

Weight

Carrying golf clubs around a golf course can be taxing, especially when you consider that an average round can last up to 4 hours. If you don’t want to carry your golf bag around the course, a golf trolley can be a good investment. 

Alternatively, you should consider the weight and length of your golf club set since a heavy bag might impact your fatigue levels and, eventually, your performance.

Price

A high-quality golf club set will cost you anywhere from $200 to $500. If you purchase individual golf clubs and assemble an entire set, you can expect to spend well over $2000.

Of course, you can always opt to purchase secondhand irons and attempt to put together a set. The issue here is that you are investing money in outdated technologies.

At least with a new set, you’re sure to play with something that’s equipped with the latest technology. Even if these golf clubs lack a bit of distance and feel, you’ll still be able to make the type of shots you need to improve your score.

Best Golf Clubs for the Money: Testing Protocol & Criteria Used for Evaluation

Craftsmanship 

Key Question to Ask: Will my golf club last for an entire season? 

When purchasing a golf club, you should be confident that it will function consistently. Therefore, make sure that it has a solid construction with exceptional craftsmanship.

See to it that the grip is perfectly aligned on the shaft, while the clubhead should be properly attached to it. Finally, the paint should be durable and carefully applied. 

My advice is, don’t just look for the lowest-priced options available. Sure, you want to save money, but if the club breaks and you have to buy a new one, did you really save any?

Performance

Key Question to Ask: Does the club work? 

One thing that you need to remember is: price doesn’t automatically equate to performance. 

Get it from someone who’s been to a thousand different pro shops and golf stores to try out clubs in every price range there is. You can putt with $10 putters and perform brilliantly compared to $500 putters that feel like bricks.

There are also drivers with $1000 shafts that almost feel like they’re made of concrete. In which case, you’re better off using drivers with affordable stock shafts that feel much more comfortable. 

The bottom line is: does the club function properly? Spending more often means you’re getting a better-built club, but this isn’t always the case.

Ideally, you should find a comparable performance that comes at a lower price. If you do, you’ll have more to spend on lessons and greens fees!

Feel 

Feel has always been the toughest criteria to define by far. I think the reason behind this is that it ultimately comes down to personal preference. 

Take the case of putters, for instance. While some go for soft, rubbery inserts, others prefer one with a solid block of steel composition. In my case, I enjoy the buttery smooth feel of a purely struck shot with forged iron, but others prefer to feel the ball make contact with the clubface and would rather go with a cast golf club. 

A shaft may be ideal for me but too whippy for you, while what feels like an excessively stiff telephone pole to me may be ideal for a faster swinger.

We’ll provide you with an overall idea of how the club responds to a solid swing or putting stroke for this criteria. While it’s difficult to define “great feel,” we all agree on what “bad feel” is. It shouldn’t take you much convincing to avoid such clubs.  

Desirability 

Key question to ask: Is this a coveted club? 

While you may argue that a club’s desirability shouldn’t affect its performance at all, make no mistake that it still counts for something. 

First off, there exists a booming resale market for golf clubs. It’s likely that what works for you today may already feel all wrong in a week.  

Some golfers will choose to fight through this and even attempt to rekindle confidence with an ineffective club. You’re better off selling the club and looking for a replacement. This task is much easier to manage with a well-known and desired brand.

While it’s an accomplishment of sorts to play well with a set of shabby, no-name clubs, having a bag full of clubs that you know are in demand can help boost your confidence. 

It’s always a great feeling when a golf buddy looks at your driver and says, “Hey, let me try that one out!” 

Value for your Money

Key question to ask: How good a value is this club? 

If money weren’t an issue, you’d probably go to a neighboring golf professional, spend all day getting fitted for clubs, and walk away with a bag full of clubs that cost the same as a midsize car. But for most golf players, that’s not an option.

Every year, we only allocate a specific amount to spend on new golf equipment. It’s great if you have a driver that works and is still in good shape, but the grooves on your irons and wedges may be wearing down, which can seriously impact your game negatively. Or perhaps, your game has significantly improved over the past year, and feel like it’s high time to upgrade your entire arsenal. 

Think about this, a driver alone can cost over $500, and we haven’t even accounted for the aftermarket shafts yet. At this rate, you may find yourself with inadequate funds left to purchase a new putter, wedges, irons, fairway woods, balls, shoes, and so on. This is the main reason why we’re looking for the best bang for our buck: the best clubs at the best possible prices.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Clubs Do I Need to When Starting? 

Figuring out the clubs you need to get your playing career underway can get challenging, especially if you’re new to the game. After all, drivers, putters, wedges, and irons can all look and feel the same to the untrained eye. To help you start, here’s a basic rundown of what a standard golf bag with 14 clubs (which is the maximum number you can bring according to the rules) looks like: 

Irons 

Irons make up the majority of the clubs in your bag and are used primarily to hit the ball to the green. They come in 1-iron to 9-iron variants, although most players only require 4-9 iron or 5-9 iron. As a beginner or high-handicapper, you’ll find the first three iron models to be too hard to hit. 

Drivers

You use drivers off the tee to hit the golf ball as far as possible. They have the largest clubhead, made of titanium or carbon fiber composite material, and all come with graphite shafts nowadays.   

Fairway Wood 

You may also utilize fairway woods off the tee for added control or longer holes to hit your second shot. They’re usually made of steel or composite with graphite shafts. 

Wedges

Wedges are similar to irons in appearance but have an extra loft for hitting higher shots, chipping around the green, and hitting shots out of sand traps. We recommend that you carry four wedges: a pitching wedge, a gap wedge, a sand wedge, and a lob wedge.

Most iron sets already include a pitching wedge, but gap through lob wedges are sold separately. The lofts of wedges are as follows: gap wedge – 52°, sand wedge – 56°, and lob wedge – 60°.

Putters 

You use a putter on the green to roll the ball into the hole. Putters have the most design variations among the types of golf clubs. Also, you’re more likely to find them at the bottom of the lake.

Do I Really Need All 14 Clubs?   

If you’re just starting, having 14 golf clubs in your bag is just too many. The sheer number can get overwhelming, not to mention, you won’t always have somebody to instruct you which one to use.

Experiencewise, I started with a 3-wood, 5-iron, 7-iron, 9-iron, a putter, and a sand wedge. I recommend the same setup to you if you’re playing your first round of gold today. Having more clubs than what’s necessary will only confuse you, so it’s better to stick with the ones you already have until you start hitting decent shots consistently with them. 

Once you can regularly hit a 3-wood into the fairway off the tee, it’s time to upgrade to a driver. Then, once you’re able to hit a 5-iron 170 yards and a 7-iron 150 yards, you’ll understand the need for a 6-iron to make 160-yard shots. By this time, you can already get a complete set of irons. 

Meanwhile, once you’ve mastered chipping with your sand wedge around the green, you’ll understand you want to hit chips that fly higher or lower. That’s when you’d want to invest in a gap wedge and a lob wedge.

However, since you’re just starting, focus on making great contact and keeping the ball in play. Having different clubs won’t matter if you keep hitting those balls out of bounds or into water hazards. Instead of worrying about other things, concentrate on improving your swing, and the rest will fall into place.  

Should I Get Custom-Fitted for my Clubs? 

Getting custom-fitted for clubs is very popular these days. However, many golfers are unsure where to start or whether they need to improve their game first before turning to custom-fitted clubs to elevate their game further.

While custom-fitted clubs can help with your scores, they aren’t necessarily the smartest way to spend your money. Custom fitting your entire bag of clubs can cost more than $500, which doesn’t include the cost of the clubs yet!

One thing you need to know is that this type of club is rarely offered at a discount.  The reality is, you could be looking at several thousand dollars after a full fitting and taking into account the cost of the new clubs.

Beginners and golfers who want to spend a few dollars toward improving their game can still benefit from technological advances without resorting to custom fitting. 

As an alternative, you can opt for a few lessons from a local pro who will then be able to evaluate your equipment and advise you if the expense involved with club fitting is worth it.

Bottomline

By now, you should already know and understand that not every golf club needs to be expensive. You only need to get the clubs that’ll take you through an entire round at the minimum. More importantly, you still have money left to go out and play on an actual course. 

The bottom line is, the best golf clubs for the money are the ones that fit your skill level perfectly. Once you gain more experience, you may try out other clubs that’ll take your game to the next level or even consider custom fitting.  

See Related Article: Golf Club Length Chart: Guide for Beginners in 2021

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