2016 has been quite an eventful year for Golf. The sport made a much awaited return to the biggest sporting event in the world, the Summer Olympics, after more than a century. (source) This has resulted in some much needed global exposure for the sport, and interest among non golfers is at an all time high. The USGA, golf manufacturers and golf course owners are all focused on making the sport more accessible (and less time consuming) to beginners and non-golfers. After the bad days of recession, things are looking brighter for the sport as we enter 2017.
For golf equipment consumers, now is a fantastic time to invest some money in golf clubs and equipment. Club manufacturers are facing some restructuring issues, with the likes of Adidas is trying to divest from some of their brands. (source) Some manufacturers are also trying to cut down on production due to unsold inventories. (source) And in the biggest news of all, Nike decided to leave the business altogether. (source)
While all that maybe bad news for the individual brands, the current market in the short term is wholly favorable for golf club buyers. Clubs have never been cheaper and you can often find great deals on some of the best golf clubs ever!
In this article, we will take a quick look at the major club manufacturers and the different categories of clubs used in golf. Finally we will go over some of the best golf clubs in each of these categories, all of which we have already reviewed on our site. They include:
The rules of the game allow you to carry a set of 14 clubs for a game of golf. You can carry less if you prefer it so, but you cannot exceed the number. And you cannot change the clubs out in the middle of a game. It takes time and practice to learn the quirks of your own game and acquire a set of trustworthy game-ready clubs that augment your skills.
Try out as many different types of clubs as possible to figure out which suits you best. Since each category of clubs are usually sold separately, your golf bag could very well have a driver from one brand, woods (or hybrids) from another, a different brand iron set and so on. Or you could even have everything by one manufacturer. The choice is yours.
Here are a few salient points to keep in mind while shopping for different types of golf clubs:
These are the clubs that you use to kick start your game of golf. But they are essentially one trick ponies, since the only situation where you would use a driver would be from the tee area. Though in their defense, they are really good at sending the ball zipping through the air across hundreds of yards of fairways. For beginners and high handicappers it can be argued that an easier club like a hybrid or even a fairway wood might be a better option from the tee. These clubs are usually cheaper and more versatile, but they do not have the aura and panache of a driver. If you feel the need to have a driver, you gotta have a driver! Here are a few pointers to keep in mind though:
Their star was on the wane with the arrival of easy to use hybrid clubs. Traditional woods are not the most friendly clubs for beginners to wield effectively. But manufacturers have been releasing newer models with added features to increase the forgiveness of woods. In a 14 club set, adding a driver or two can be beneficial especially on the longer holes, usually par 4 and above. They can function as a driver replacement as well as a reliable second shot club from the fairway. Their distance and finesse give them an edge over hybrids. Buy them once you start getting consistent shots with a hybrid. Things to keep in mind include:
The workhorse clubs of your collection, they are usually sold in sets of up to 9 clubs. Probably second only to putters in terms of impact on your final score. With irons, you can either get on the greens faster, or get into trouble even faster. These are the most versatile set of clubs in a golfers arsenal, designed to face a variety of fairway and turf conditions and lies. Choosing the right set of irons is not easy. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
These are basically your “get out of jail” clubs, the ones that you turn to when an errant shot lands the ball in a bunker, hazard, rough or a really bad lie. They can also be used aggressively to lob the ball high above hazards and onto the green. You might get a couple of these specialized clubs along with a normal set of irons, but wedges are usually sold as individual clubs or as part of a set of wedges. They include the pitching wedge (PW), the gap wedge (GW), the sand wedge (SW) and the lob wedge (LW) When buying wedges, remember to:
People lose more sleep over their putts and putters than over any other golf clubs. Not surprising, since you might end up using this club more than half the time during the course of a game. And did we forget to mention that your putter will decide your final score on the card? There are simply far too many nuances involved in the art of selecting the best putter. Our best buying advise for you would be:
The ideal golf club is the one with a specific configuration that suits your golf style. If a particular manufacturer has this configuration club in a color that you like, in a budget that suits you, go for it. Don’t get too much hung upon specific brands, especially within the top 7 or 8. There is not much to choose between them in terms of performance or reliability. The top 3 popular brands are probably:
followed closely by:
Since Nike announced their withdrawal from the golf club business in 2016, they are the only notable absentee from our list as we head into 2017.
The list includes the best clubs in the extremely popular game improvement and super game improvement segment, which caters to beginners and mid to high handicap golfers. The largest volume of sales of golf clubs happens in this category.
A driver with high levels of forgiveness, the Fly Z straddles the gray area between game improvement and better player drivers. It is approachable enough for beginners, yet manages to offer a healthy measure of performance that better mid handicap players can appreciate.
Though it sure lacks some of the advanced features offered by its competitors, there is still a lot of loft customization options on offer which is more than adequate for the demographic it is aimed at.
With a competitive pricing, and Cobra’s customary dark and bold styling, it is hard to say no to this driver. A simple, yet high performing driver that will suit double digit handicappers of different skill levels. You cant ask for much more than that.
The 915F series has two variants, the F is for higher handicappers while the Fd is for more middle level players. We were sold on the sheer performance of woods from Titleist. And the lack of any major flaws or faults made our pick all the more easier in the woods category.
Woods are for distance, and the 915Fd had a lot of distance to offer, both from the tee as well as on the fairway. Its ability to get good shots even from the toughest of lies made it stand out all the more.
With the availability of adjustable lofts, these drivers offer more versatility than traditional designs. Forgiveness is on the lower side, but the easy swinging nature of the club, along with increased accuracy of shots more than covers up for that minor flaw.
High handicappers can turn to the 915F for a bigger sweet spot and minimal drop in performance levels.
An excellent wood capable of working as a driver replacement or a fairway specialist.
A great series of beginner friendly irons with cavity back design and massive soles, there is nothing much to dislike about the X Hot iron set. The sheer variety of configuration options on offer caters to a wide variety of golfers. That kind of freedom of choice is nice, since nobody wants to pay for clubs they know they are never going to use much.
We like the fact that they are optimized for distance and launch, since these are the two things that beginners tend to struggle more with. And with ample forgiveness on those humongous soles, Callaway shows that they got their priorities bang on when designing these iron sets.
Full marks for consistency in performance throughout the set, something that many manufacturers ignore or fail at.
They may be know more for their golf balls, but this Fila subsidiary do have some great short golf clubs in their inventory. The Vokey SM6 series was the pick of the lot in both our sand wedge and lob wedge . Since wedges these days are sold more as in progression of lofts rather than categories, it is safe to say that the Vokey SM6 is probably the most consistent across loft angles when it comes to wedges.
We feel that putters are one particular category, where it is simply impossible to declare a clear winner. Our shortlist contains some of the best putters from across the spectrum of putters, including blade, mallet, insert faced, face weighted and toe-heel weighted options. The that probably stands out a bit more from the rest would probably be:
The beginner and higher handicaps friendly categories dominate the golf clubs landscape in terms of sales. And these clubs are incredibly important for the future of the sport, even if some people scoff at them for putting less emphasis on skill. The popularity of an individual sport is dependent on popular participation.
If more and more people are to take up golf on on a regular basis, they need access to friendly and forgiving clubs. The above selection of clubs are some of the best in the business. And with the interest in golf surging in recent years, we can expect more such exciting clubs to be unveiled in the coming years. But until then, these are the best golf clubs for 2017.