Golf Sets: Answering Some Basic Questions About Sets of Clubs

Golf stand bag full of a set of golf clubs
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Golf sets come in different shapes and sizes, but they adhere to a basic structure. What follows are a few questions and answers about golf sets - the basics, the questions beginners to golf might have. If you'd like to shop for golf sets, you can compare prices here.

How Many Clubs Make Up a Golf Set?

According to the Rules of Golf, golfers may carry a maximum of 14 golf clubs in their golf bag during a round of golf played under those rules. You are not required to carry 14 clubs, but you should not carry more than that. If you want to carry fewer - just 13, or 12, or seven, or two - that's the golfer's choice. (You can put as many clubs as you wish in your bag for practice sessions.)

Which Clubs are Included in Golf Sets?

Golf clubs falls into several categories: The woods (driver and fairway woods), hybrids, irons, wedges and putters. The up-to-14 clubs in any golfer's bag will be comprised of these clubs - but it is up to the individual golfer to determine the various combinations.

As for putting those clubs together: Some golf manufacturers make complete golf sets for sale; that is, an all-inclusive boxed set that includes driver, a combination of woods/hybrids/irons, a wedge or two, and a putter. A full set of clubs in one box, sometimes with a golf bag included, and perhaps a few accessories (a glove, some tees, maybe a few balls).

These full, boxed sets are mostly aimed a beginners, they are usually pretty cheap (compared to buying the different types of clubs separately), and they can be a good choice for beginners who don't want to spend a lot.

But most golfers do assemble their golf sets by buying the different types of clubs separately. A golfer might purchase a driver, then add a couple fairways woods or hybrids. Irons are typically sold in 8-club sub-sets that run from 3-iron through a pitching wedge or 4-iron through sand wedge; or are what are called "blended" or "combo" sets that include a mixture of hybrids and traditional irons. An additional wedge or two plus a putter are further purchased separately.

How Much Do Golf Sets Cost?

Golf is not a cheap hobby, and a golfer can spend thousands of dollars putting together a name-brand, 14-club set. The most expensive drivers on the market run to around $800-$1,000; the most expensive iron sets around $3,000. You get the picture.

The good news is, a full, complete golf set doesn't have to be anywhere near that costly. Those all-inclusive boxed sets that we mentioned above? Many of them can be found for less than $200. Check big-box retail stores and general sporting goods stores for those.

Golfers who assemble the different components - driver, woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, putter - into one golf set should shop for those components according to their own budgets. Buying name-brand clubs from the major manufacturers, a golfer is likely to spend anywhere from $500 to $1,500 on a complete golf set, assuming they aren't buying the absolute cheapest or the most expensive clubs available. (Many cheaper options do exist, keep in mind)

Obviously, the price range for golf sets is huge, and what any given golfer spends will be dependent on his needs, skill level and own budget.

Which Golf Sets are Best for Beginners?

Cheap ones! But seriously - when shopping for your first golf set, ask yourself some questions about your expectations and goals. If you want golf clubs only so you can play twice a year with your father-in-law, there's no need to spend much money. Buy a cheap boxed set; or even just a set of used clubs.

Spending more money on a higher-quality set of clubs is fine if it fits your budget and if you are dedicated to the sport. Becoming a good golfer requires practice. If you can see yourself spending time practicing, and playing lots of golf, and you have the money to spend - knock yourself out.

A good middle-of-the-road approach is to buy a short set or even a used set when just starting out. (A short set is a golf set that includes only about half the clubs of a normal set). These are relatively cheap, they get you started, and they give you a chance to discover just how into golf you'll be. If it turns out you're not as interested in the game as you imagined you'd be, you haven't wasted a lot of money. If it turns that you love the game and can't get enough it, it will be easy to upgrade later to a better golf set.

Does the Makeup of Golf Sets Change Depending on Skill Level?

Yes. A golf set of a great golfer will include a driver, while beginners are better off using some other club off the tee (the driver is one of the more difficult clubs to master). A great golfer will have fewer hybrids - perhaps even no hybrids - while mid- and high-handicappers should replace long irons (3- and 4-iron in particular) with corresponding hybrids.

And better golfers might change the makeup of their golf sets to include additional wedges for attacking the flagstick in the short game - adding a gap wedge and sometimes a lob wedge.

All golfers benefit from game-improvement technology; the higher a golfer's handicap, the better off that golfer is moving to game-improvement sets and to super-game improvement sets. These are golf sets whose technology is focused on helping the golfer get the ball up into the air (improving launch conditions, in golf parlance) and in providing maximum forgiveness on mis-hits.