Dear Curated Expert: How Much Does it Cost to Upgrade & When Should I Upgrade?

Golf expert Eric Hall breaks down the cost and urgency of upgrading your golf equipment so you can always stay at the top of your game.

Photo by Cristina Anne Costello

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Ah golf, such a lovely sport spent outside on the freshly mown fairways of whatever golf club is closest to you. But, at some point, you are going to be convinced by an ad on TV to upgrade something in your bag. Or perhaps you are going to see a Tour Pro swinging the newest club models on the course every week and want to be like them. The question is, what does that cost? Well, let’s break it down!

Curated expert, I have $150 to spend, what can I realistically buy?

With $150 in hand, there are a couple of options that you can add to your bag. Your best bet for finding deals and wiggle room at this price point is simple: don’t buy the newest model. For example, you could buy the Titleist Vokey SM8 if you had an extra $10 in hand, or you can buy the SM7 for $120. With wedges, in particular, there is never really anything drastically groundbreaking from the 365 days prior, so you are in pretty good shape to not need to upgrade every year.

Depending on how serious you are, you may want to consider repurchasing wedges every few months to freshen your grooves, but for the average player, refresh a sand wedge or a lob wedge every year.

Expert’s Top Two Wedges:

I mentioned a second option earlier, and that option is to buy a putter. Some of the newest and more tech-influenced putters are way out of range here, but there are some great putters that should not be overlooked at this price range.

Expert’s Top Two Putters:

Alright, Mr. Expert, what if I find myself with $300 to spend?

I am glad you asked. There are a couple of different choices you could make here and they are dependent on who you are as a golfer, what clubs you currently own, and the decisions you want to make. Let’s start with investing in the short game. Here again, you look at the wedges from the previous post and you say, “I want a sand and lob wedge.” Boom! Done deal! Scores will drop!

But let’s say you have your short game on lock and you are looking to bolster the long game to either get off the tee better or to better attack those par fives and get the eagles flying! Here are my top picks for fairway woods and hybrids that might do the trick:

Expert’s Top Fairway Woods:

Expert’s Top Hybrids:

The difference between hybrids and woods is mostly felt past your traditional three wood. You can choose to go with a five wood for the bigger head, which instills confidence in some, or you can go with the hybrid for a better CG feel than longer irons, which might be lofted like a five or seven wood. It is all about you, so if you need to, get out and hit some and see what the differences are!

And one final note, if you are a new golfer, this is where you begin to enter the chat and potentially come away with that first complete set that gets you out on the course for under $300. This will start your love of the game!

Mr. Expert, I found $700 in my pocket (crazy, I know)! What can I buy with that?

First off, I need to know what four-leaf clover field you live in that $700 randomly appeared in your back pocket! Secondly, great question! This is the realm of what is it worth to you. You are getting to the price point where you can buy yourself a nice set of game-improving irons, or you can buy yourself that fancy new driver and get a wedge to hit greens after dropping bombs off the tee! There are a few other mish-mashes you could create from the list before, so I am going to add my favorite drivers and iron sets here:

Expert’s Favorite Drivers:

Product image of the TaylorMade SIM Driver.

Expert’s Favorite Game Improvement Iron Sets:

I have been saving money from each stimmy & finally have $1,400 to spend on some new clubs. What should I go for?

Ah yes, the benefit to the pandemic is the beautiful stimulus checks that are intended to be used to stimulate the economy. Welcome, friend, and may I say, congrats on not saying you have more than the $1,400. Obviously, you could create a set by mixing some of the above options. I would suggest going with a new driver, wood, hybrid, and wedges. Now, let’s say for the sake of argument that you just recently upgraded those and it is time to get new dart-throwers (aka irons). Here are my favorites that will enhance your game:

Expert’s Favorite Irons

Personally, I am going to be happy with any of those iron sets above, but I specifically have my eye set on the P770 or the Cobra King Forged Tec, potentially even the One-Length version. I still need to test that out.

Well, “expert,” I have $2000 & I really need help on the greens and on Par 3’s...I just can’t seem to get my distance right on those things man! Help!

So, let’s say you are buying new irons too, and for the sake of this scenario, you just bought the Apex Pros. Boom, $1295.00 down. With the extra $705 dollars, we are going to get you into a great High MOI putter to help with distance control, and we are going to get you a rangefinder so you know exactly how far you have to the pin!

Expert’s Favorite High MOI Putters:

Expert’s Favorite Garmin RangeFinders and GPS:

Product image of the Garmin Approach S40.
Product image of the Garmin Approach G30.
Product image of the Garmin Approach Z82.

Alright, so I know what I can buy at each price point, but what is really most important to upgrade?

My answer to this question is simple. What in your bag do you not have confidence in? For me, currently, it is my driver with its stock TaylorMade shaft from 2011, before they started using actual premium shafts as no charge upgrades. It is whippy and inconsistent. My driver is the first thing out of my bag when it is time to upgrade, followed by my irons and putter. I love my wedges, but they need new grooves. With that said, I can manage them for now while I upgrade everything else. So my first recommendation is to get rid of the bad vibes in your bag.

Now, if you don’t have bad vibes in your bag, and you just need to upgrade something, look at what you have and how old it is. Generally, drivers and woods significantly advance in technology every three to four years. Irons may see these significant increases every five or so years, but can also be playable for nearly a decade (a la Daniel Berger at Pebble this year). Wedges need fresh grooves, so if you are a serious player, figure out a way to refresh those every six months to a year.

For more questions, click here to reach out directly to Mr. Expert himself for free, personalized advice here on Curated.

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I have been giving advice to my friends and family about what clubs and balls to play to better their game since I started playing golf. From beginners to experts, they all have seen improvement in their game by finding the right clubs, shafts, and balls to put in their bags before hitting the cours...

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