How to Pick a Great First Packaged SetPublished on 04/27/2023 · 9 min readLooking to get your first set of golf clubs on a budget? Golf Expert Adam Ditcher explains what to look for in a set, as well as the best sets at different price points.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
Every golfer was a beginner at one point. Whether we started when we were really young or picked it up later in life, there’s always that initial hurdle to overcome of not having any experience and struggling to get that consistent contact. When struggling on the course, these thoughts often cross your mind: Is my bag's composition correct? Am I using the right clubs for me and my game?
One area that beginners often overlook is the equipment that they use. So, let’s talk about it.
Making Sense of the Packaged Set Market
Sure, golf clubs aren’t a small investment, and it makes sense that people want to make sure that they enjoy the game before they start dumping hundreds or thousands of dollars into their new hobby. However, a set of hand-me-down clubs that are a decade or two old can actually be more difficult to hit than a newer set. Plenty of people start playing with some older clubs and then decide they’d like to upgrade to their first own set of golf clubs for better ease of use.
Packaged sets or box sets are one of the most cost-efficient ways to purchase a new set of clubs. Often, these clubs are made specifically for the package set offering and cannot be purchased individually as new clubs. Box sets often are much cheaper than putting together a full set of clubs (driver, woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, putter, bag) individually and make for a great option for golfers with varied years of experience in the game. The set comes ready to hit the course out of the box with clubs, a bag (some sets have carts bags and some have stand bags), and head covers. The only golf equipment that is completely essential to add before hitting the course is some golf balls, although generally, players will want some other gear as they start to play more.
So what makes one manufacturer’s package set stand out from others? These products can be measured on a wide variety of criteria, and they are not all created equal. Let’s talk about some features and why a player may be better off choosing one set over another one. Curious about our Expert's top picks? Check out The Best Beginner Friendly Golf Sets and The Best Ladies' Beginners Sets.
What to Look For in a Packaged Set
There are a lot of variables to choosing the right box set to start out with, but the good news is that golf experts can help. Naturally, as the player begins to get a better feel for the game, they will start to develop an idea of what clubs in the box set work better for them than others. Perhaps, they don’t like graphite shafts in their irons and would prefer to switch to stainless steel. Maybe the ball flight on the driver in the box set isn’t ideal; it needs a large sweet spot, and the player would benefit from a lower face angle. The box set could come with a cart bag when they’d find a stand bag easier to carry. The 3-wood might not provide the accuracy they’re seeking when between the tees ready to go for the fairway.
Unless you are a lifetime casual golfer who only needs a price-conscious package set to attend an annual company golf outing, box sets typically are a great starting point but don’t scale into the improvements a player wants to see in their swing and score.
After selecting your first set, pay attention to what areas of the game you find easiest and most difficult. Is your contact towards the toe or the heel when you miss? Do you find your irons lacking precision and dislike the oversized head design of the set? Maybe the sand wedge loft isn’t ideal for your short game.
With these basics understood and what to look for, let’s examine some specific brands’ sets. This list will not encompass all box sets on the market but rather provide some help when looking over options.
Price and Set Variation
Outside of the different sets and their unique mix of items, one of the biggest differentiating points right off of the top is the price of the box set. Here are some sets ordered by their pricing tiers to help you find the best one within your starting budget and comfort level.
$300 and Under
Some really low-tier sets sell for around $200 or so. As far as getting into golf goes, that is going to be the cheapest barrier to entry on new clubs. These are great for players on a budget who just want to show up to golf with their friends and stop having to take rentals or borrow some clubs from a buddy. However, these sets generally aren’t made to last, occasionally have defects, and have a club break at some point down the line. Some are better than others, and one set under $300 that really stands out is the Inesis 100 set.
These are a good complete set because they feature club technology designed to help beginners hit shots in the air and offer forgiveness when the player doesn’t hit the center of the clubface, which will happen a lot to beginners and happens regularly to most golfers. Many low-cost sets don’t include this type of more advanced club technology, which is why this Inesis set gets the nod from many sources, including Google itself! It also comes in uniflex, so the Inesis set would be okay for both beginner men and women.
$300 to $500
The next tier of packaged sets includes a few different offerings from Wilson that also makes higher quality equipment and sponsors some professional golfers, including former US Open champion Gary Woodland.
There are also sets from Ray Cook and Lynx Golf in this price range between $300 to $500 a set. There are a few more options in this price range – for example, Ray Cook offers a set with graphite irons and a set with steel. This sort of distinction isn’t available in the lower-price sets, and players with faster swing speeds who can really move the club through impact with velocity may wish to consider some heavier steel shafts to help create a more consistent feel through the ball.
$500 to $800
The next set tier sits around $500 to $800 for a full set, and this is where the differences between the sets become much more noticeable. At the bottom of the price range comes the Callaway Strata set, which can vary slightly in cost depending on which version and year’s model we’re talking about. The Callaway Golf Company is a well-known manufacturer and club brand, and the Strata set is one of the best-rated sets in terms of performance compared to price.
One flaw of the Callaway Golf Men’s Strata set is that it really only comes in regular flex shafts. If a player is generating more clubhead speed, the regular shaft is going to have too much flex on the downswing, leading to an inconsistent impact point when the swing bottoms out at the ball. This can also cost the player distance as the lag in the swing loses kinetic energy to the whippiness of the club shaft. Big-distance hitters would be better off with a stiff flex set. There are a few options in this price range that also come in a sleek black finish: Stix Golf and Robin Golf. Both offer a box set that looks sleek and offers a playable set of stiff flex clubs. All three brands also offer a ladies' flex set for beginner women golfers and those players who do not generate much clubhead speed.
The shaft flexes aside, one thing that all three previous sets have in common is that all of the clubs are graphite. For players who are looking to get steel shafts in their irons and have a little more of a playable club for approach shots, Monroe Golf's Surge set offers a full set of steel irons as well as a forged wedge that isn’t built to match the midsize irons in the set. The set is made to cater to a player who prefers the heavier feel of steel irons with forgiving yet scorable clubheads.
The Monroe set is available in regular flex and will be available in stiff flex and +1 inch, which is great for a taller player. Other box sets that come in +1 include Ram Golf, Palm Springs Golf, and the Tour Edge Bazooka 370, which also comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer, Stix Golf. As a tip, look into an extended set if you feel your clubs are too short for you.
The final tier of box sets includes complete package offerings from top brands with a lot of name recognition. Cobra, Cleveland, and TaylorMade all offer box sets that come in at over $800 a set. For an entry-level set, these clubs are the top tier of pricing. The trade-off is versatility, meaning that as far as complete golf club sets go, they’re going to be helpful as a beginner and still playable as a player improves their game. These brands are industry leaders in technology, and their box sets help golfers improve their game.
Players who have played some golf and are getting back into the game will find the feel of these brand-name box sets to be more catered to players who are more developed in their game and want some better feeling clubs at impact without paying a few thousand dollars to build a whole set from scratch. They also make for a good secondary upgrade after a low-price beginner set as players decide they want to get more into golf and aren’t happy with the performance of their $300 set of clubs.
Take the time to really learn about your own golf game and how the box set pairs up with your needs. Curated offers a 14-day playability guarantee just for this reason - it’s important to make sure the clubs work for you. In other words, helping you with your game and growing in the sport matters here.
If you're looking for that next step, then take the time to speak with myself or another Curated Golf Expert, and we’ll happily get you into a great box set for you and start helping to improve your golf experience today!