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A Complete Set or Custom Set?

Decision Time: A Complete Set or Custom Set?

The decision of whether to buy a complete set of clubs at once or to assemble a more customized set from a myriad of options is a dilemma facing many new players. Before making any commitment, it’s important to identify practical goals and expectations for yourself. Foremost among these are your interest and commitment, your available budget, and the time you’ll realistically be able to dedicate to playing and practicing.

If you’ve identified yourself as a true beginner, a basic complete set makes the most sense, both in terms of cost and end use. It serves as an easy entry into the game, saving you from pressure and stress of shopping for all of the clubs in your bag. It will also allow you to focus on gradually improving your game and not on immediately validating the purchase of an expensive set of clubs. From a performance standpoint, packaged sets are composed of woods and irons designed with the novice in mind, featuring larger heads, softer shaft flexes, and perimeter-weighting (a more even distribution of the weight of the clubhead throughout its face area). All of these elements aid in maximizing learning and enjoyment while minimizing the frustration that comes from playing the game for the first time. As you become more attune to your ability and the various products in the marketplace, the transition from a packaged set to individual clubs will prove to be a fun and rewarding experience.

If you’ve identified yourself as a player returning to the game after a long layoff or a recreational golfer planning to play infrequently throughout the year, a complete set might also be the most sensible option for you. Every-other-weekend (or less) warriors will benefit from the same game-improvement club designs as beginners, and will be able to manage the clubs more easily as a result. The standardization of a complete set allows casual players to ease back into their games, and to focus more on making a consistent swing than on the weight, design, and aesthetic features of the club itself, which can differ drastically from one to the next in a more advanced set. More practically, a packaged set with a retail price of $200 to $500 would be equal to your investment in time, especially in a sport in which the newest driver or fairway metal can cost that much alone.

What to Expect in Golf Club Sets

Once you’ve made the decision to purchase a new set of golf clubs, it’s a good idea to understand what to expect. Most complete sets include clubs (several fairway woods, irons, wedges, and a putter), a bag and several accessories, notably headcovers for the woods. Companies like Adams (Tight Lies Plus), Wilson (Ultra), and Walter Hagen (XLR) offer the option of graphite or steel-shafted sets. Lighter and easier to swing, female and senior players will benefit most from graphite shafts. Stronger players will find that steel shafts provide the right amount of resistance throughout their golf swings. As a final note, remember that most complete sets are designed for players of average height – men between 5’10 and 6’0” and women between 5’5” and 5’7”. If you feel that you might be inhibited by clubs that are too long or too short, consult with your local PGA/LPGA-certified professional.


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