Beginner Set to Pro: When to Upgrade Your Golf ClubsPublished on 05/23/2023 · 8 min readGolf Expert Eric Hall guides you through your next steps if you think it's time to upgrade your golf clubs. The right equipment will keep you playing for years.
Photo by Gene Gallin
You came to golf just trying to find a cheap box set that you could play with, a set that would allow you to get out and enjoy the fresh air for a couple of hours with your buddies. Turns out, you love golf! But, after a few months, you start noticing you are missing more shots and not having as much fun. You start wondering to yourself, “Is it time to give it up?” No, dear friend, it is not. Instead, it is time to think about upgrading to more premium equipment.
In thinking about where to start, it is important to be realistic about your budget. If you can only spend $400 now, you may want to look at upgrading some wedges and a putter or getting a new driver to hit bombs with! But before we dive in, let’s take a look at some key moments when you might think it is time to upgrade.
Have you spent more golfing than you spent on your clubs?
Generally speaking, these package golf sets are running you around $500. Maybe a little less, maybe a little more depending on what you bought. But, if you find yourself in love with the game of golf, so much that in the last three months or so, you have spent more money playing rounds than you did on your clubs, it may be time to invest in your game. Now granted, with a cart, an average round of golf is probably costing somewhere in the $30-$50 range, so this is really only ten rounds, but still, in those ten rounds you are probably getting vastly better.
Once you have gotten to this point, it may be time to invest in your newfound hobby and find some premium options that can stay with you for a few years. Plus, making this investment may inspire you to take some lessons so that you don’t end up wasting money.
Are the clubs showing wear and tear?
Another way that you may be able to tell that you are ready for a new set of clubs is simply if the set you bought is beginning to show signs of wear. These clubs are not always the best quality on the market, so they may start to show signs of use and wear quickly. The good news is that you weren’t going to get much in trade-in value anyway, so start looking at what to move into from your first set of clubs.
When you begin seeing wear and tear on your clubs, it is time to think about an upgrade. Normally, you would be in the weeds, however, consider the following options below. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to replace the clubs showing wear and tear before they completely break down.
What can you afford?
When thinking about whether or not to purchase new gear with upgraded technology, you'll want to focus on attributes like launch, accuracy, shaft flex, and more. Other helpful questions to consider are:
- How much forgiveness is needed?
- Do you want to improve your swing speed?
- Is your swing like the professional golfers'?
- Do you need a stiff shaft?
- Do you want to go with graphite or steel shafts?
- Do you need long irons?
- Do you want a complete golf club set?
However, the most important thing that you must prioritize is figuring out what you can realistically afford. You'll want to come to the table with a plan to find a new set of golf clubs, rather than just winging it. Below, you will find a list of clubs you could buy in different price ranges. Keep in mind, these prices are all based on brand new clubs and could be modified slightly by buying used clubs.
For me, this range goes one of two ways, but it all goes to upgrading the tools in your bag to help elevate your short game. You could either choose to buy premium wedges, putting a teardrop sand wedge and lob wedge in your bag or go for a premium putter that can strengthen your putting game.
- TaylorMade MySpider Tour Putter
- Odyssey White Hot OG Double Wide Stroke Lab Putter
- Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft Milled 1 Putter
At this price point, you could do everything listed in the $100-$300 price range and have some change leftover. You could put it towards a hybrid or a new wood, however, my money is going to a new driver that is adjustable and fit for my game.
These are great for the tinkerers.
- TaylorMade Stealth Plus+ 2 Driver: This 2023 driver provides a wide range of adjustability. It can go plus or minus two full degrees, and it has a sliding weight on the back to allow for a draw, neutral, or fade bias. TaylorMade's Carbon Twist technology allows for off-center hits to stay straighter and more forgiving.
- Titleist TSR3 Driver: The TSR3 offers maximum adjustability. It features a sliding weight for precise ball flight and trajectory.
These are great for high-handicappers to eliminate a big slice.
- TaylorMade Stealth HD 2 Driver: This driver reduces the slice with a draw-biased design, high launch capabilities, and increased forgiveness compared to the previous year's model.
- Callaway Paradym X Driver: This driver is made for the golfer who would like to minimize a slice and stay in the fairway.
- Srixon ZX5 MKII: Built for adjustability and draw bias, this will help to increase launch and forgiveness.
- Cobra Aerojet Max: A forgiving, draw-biased, and low-spin driver for those that need a bit of help off the tee.
It is time to upgrade those irons, baby! While you could also go for the driver and woods, finding a nice set of premium game improvement irons will really help your game out and make you a more consistent golfer. Not only that, but you don’t need to upgrade irons every year or two like you sometimes do with drivers and woods. You can keep them in the bag for a long time!
Max Game Improvement Irons
Game Improvement Irons
- Callaway Mavrik
- TaylorMade SIM2 Max
- Titleist T300
At this point, you are definitely looking at adding multiple categories of clubs to your bag. Maybe you add a driver to your irons. Maybe you get your irons, wedges, and putter. At this level of affordability, you have some wiggle room with what you can change and how you want to approach it. For me, I would be looking at two options:
Upgrade the long game
The drivers, woods, and hybrids that come in box sets are not always the most forgiving and consistent clubs. You will definitely get what you paid for, so if you have the money to make an upgrade replacement, upgrading the long game can really boost your golf game and help lower scores. For me, upgrading the long game looks like this:
- New driver
- New 3 fairway wood
- New 5 wood or hybrid, depending on what you are going to use it for on the course. If it is going to be a weapon off the tee and off the ground, go 5 wood. If it is just a weapon for the fairways and rough, go hybrid.
Invest in your approach game
Invest in the most used clubs like irons, wedges, and putters. Here is the deal, at this price point, with technological advances, you can almost upgrade the entire bag and fill in the long game later. Get yourself a nice set of irons, give away your old clubs, and get some nice wedges and a putter so that your only worry will be getting off the tee without putting yourself in too bad of shape. After that, you will have the confidence you need to lower scores with your shiny new set of golf irons, new wedges, and putter!
- Iron Set: 5-PW, AW (most of these sets are the traditional lofts of a 4-PW set, but they make amateurs feel more like pros with their clubs and distances)
- Only Two: 54 degrees and 58 or 60 degrees
- Three Wedges: 52, 56, and 60 degrees
- High MOI Putter (trust me, you will thank me later!)
Overall, knowing when to upgrade to new irons is a bit of a personal preference. Box sets can serve the new golfer for quite some time, but for those of you who become weekend warriors, it will be necessary to upgrade and get equipment that keeps you coming back to the course for years to come.
Some of these decisions are also determined by which box set you buy from the jump, as some of the more expensive sets come with decent putters that you can afford to wait to upgrade. For free advice on finding the best clubs for your game, reach out to me or one of my fellow Golf experts here on Curated. We're happy to be a resource for helping you find the right clubs in your budget. Whatever you choose to do, do so with confidence and get out there and make some birdies!