Obviously, top of the range golf clubs isn’t exactly cheap. When you are just starting out playing golf, it is easy to purchase a complete set for under $150. However, as you get better and better, I found that I needed to improve my irons and was required to invest some more money into these new clubs. So, I started wondering, what really is the biggest difference between a cheap set of irons and a top of the range expensive set of clubs. I decided to do some research on this and here is what I learnt.
There is absolutely a big difference between cheap golf clubs and expensive golf clubs. Expensive clubs tend to have state of the art technologies way beyond our understanding and can make a big difference to your game. But what I have found is that if you look for clubs which are only up to four years old, then you get grab yourself a bargain that doesn’t comprise on quality and here is why…
We need to break this down into four categories to really understand the difference between the clubs.
· Distance – the average distance the clubs are consistently able to produce
· Forgiveness – unlike the pros, there will be times where I won’t be able to get a good strike and when this happens, how far does the ball go but more importantly, how much distance am I losing and how much does the ball deviate from its path
· Control – what kind of shot shaping can I get from these clubs, am I able to hit a low or a high ball flight, can I hit a fade or a right to left?
· Price – this is obviously the big difference and comes along with a discussion of how they look, feel and sound on impact
In terms of distance, I was surprised by how much distance I could get from the cheap set of irons when I was striking the ball well. But… that is the key thing! My carry distance was very up and down as the times when I wasn’t catching the ball clean, my carry distance was down by almost 20 yards.
With the more expensive set of clubs, there was a massive difference in the numbers for these. Not only was I getting more carry distance but on average, I was almost getting over 20 yards including the slight mishits that occurred.
Having taken a few swings with my old set of clubs, when I strike the ball out of the middle, it actually felt pretty good. But, being an average golfer, there will be numerous times when you don’t strike the ball so well. When I caught the ball with the toe or the heel of my iron, I was punished severely and found that the pull shots where more emphasized then my more expensive clubs.
With the more expensive clubs, the shots absolutely flew in my opinion. But it’s when I didn’t quite catch the ball so well, I wasn’t punished anywhere near as much as the cheap clubs. The pull shots that were heading well left of the target with my cheap irons were no longer so far away from the target.
Having a look at the numbers of my shots, the biggest difference for me between the two sets of clubs were the spin rates. The spin rates for the cheap set of clubs had massive variations in rpm from one shot to another so I felt like I was lacking a bit of control in this department. For mine, they went from 4300 rpms all the way up to 8000 rpms on some of my shots.
This big difference obviously affected my ability to shape my shots which I found to be more difficult because I had to work the club to really get the club face back into on target to hit a fade or a draw.
In contrast, the spin rates were far more consistent and equal with the more expensive set of clubs, around the 6000rpm mark for me. This greater control I was getting with these also helped me control my shot shaping. I am able to hit nicer, more tucked in draw and fades with these.
This is obviously the biggest difference between the two sets of clubs, you are almost talking about $1000 difference.
The more expensive clubs outpointed the cheap sets in every department for me but now the real question is whether it makes that much of a difference to your game?
The answer to that question comes completely down to you! I know it’s a little cliché but if you are only playing golf once a month with a group of friends then I wouldn’t say a $1000 golf set is not a smart decision. However, if you play three or four times a week, competing in tournaments and looking to play to the best of your abilities, then an expensive set is definitely a good investment.
However, what I will say though from doing my research is that, if you look back at technologies from two or three years ago, they haven’t moved on a massive deal as these companies may market. I always find fantastic golf sets only two or three years old and they are available for pretty cheap prices too. If you are in the market for a decent set of clubs then do yourself a favor and save yourself tons of time by reading our post on 10 weird golf irons on the market right now and 10 unusual golf drivers that will help you hit the fairway each time. Below I have included some tips to help you when purchasing a cheap set of used clubs.
Tips when buying a cheap set of golf clubs
The best set of used clubs you can buy are in my opinion between two and four years old. Unless you are a professional or a really serious amateur golfer, I promise you that you wouldn’t be able to tell too much difference between the brand-new clubs and the clubs that are up to four years old. As long as they are still in great condition, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are 90% as good as the new stuff.
· Check the head of the club is in good condition. A few scrapes and scratches are absolutely fine but nothing that’s going to mess up the play of the club like any dents or gouges.
· Club face quality is key. If the face is completely worn down and there’s no grooves left on them, then the ball will not react the way you want it to when striking it.
· Double check the shaft of the club as I have found many times, the shaft is much better than the one I would have bought originally. There have even been instances where the shaft alone would have cost me $150.
· Make sure to get a named brand because they will make the quality stuff. These include: Ping, Titleist, Taylormade, Callaway, Cobra, Bridgestone etc. You want the engineering and the quality that comes with a reputable brand because they have tighter control of their quality.
· A good way is to check how much they would retail brand new, I like to find ones that are $1000+ brand new.
· It’s just got to feel right. If you don’t like the club after a couple of swings, put it to the side. You don’t want to try fit your game to the club. Find a club that fits your game!
Tips when purchasing brand new clubs
So you might now be wondering what the biggest benefit to investing in an expensive set of golf clubs is? There is by far one reason which every golfer would agree on.
When you purchase a new set of expensive clubs, they are normally bespoke fit to your own correct specification. So, club makeups like the length and lie of the club will be fitted personally to you. The ideal situation would be that of where you are able to find a second-hand set with your ideal spec but obviously this is usually very unlikely.
These clubs are going to last you a long time so you will want to spend some time getting them properly fitted. Here are my three tips which will help you get your custom fit perfect:
· Leave your ego at the door! It is not a competition to see who can hit the longest distance. Instead game different scenarios that you would find yourself in so for example a medium shot and a soft shot. That way, you can find out how your clubs will perform like it would out on the course. You won’t gain anything from know how far you can hit the ball at maximum speed as you probably won’t swing your club at maximum speed all the time.
· To get a good fit, consider how you are striking the ball. When you go in for your custom fit, if you are not having your strike measured then you are not being measured to great detail. Obviously, a better strike will improve your carry distance and I have found that getting the correct custom fit has made great improvements to my striking.
· This is one my coach told me which I think is very important, a club fitting is a lesson! It is a great opportunity to learn about your swing and your delivery. If you are having problems with hitting the ball too low, your guide may be able to measure your dynamic loft and potentially moving it up help you achieve your goals.
Just remember that a fitting isn’t designed as an opportunity for someone to sell you some shiny new equipment. It’s a fantastic learning experience and an opportunity to learn about your delivery on impact.
The way I see it when I purchase a new piece of sports equipment, I always think of it from a task driven perspective? So, when I started, for me it was to learn how to swing a golf club and for at the time a cheap set of clubs did the job. Then, as I became more consistent, I wanted a little more forgiveness so I invested a little bit more. Then, finally I wanted so more control off my club face so I invested in an expensive set of clubs and since then I have never looked back.
So, the real question you need to ask yourself is… will it make me better at golf? If the answer is a yes then it’s probably worth it. But only you can answer that one because at the end of the day, you want to buy the version that works for you the best!
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