What’s the ideal 14 club set makeup when it comes to wedges, long iron, hybrids and fairway woods?
10 Professionals Contributed
Finding the Ideal Set Makeup...
Finding the ideal set composition varies for every player, but there is one thing that should be a constant. Get the correct clubs in your bag that you will use, not what looks cool!
When it comes to finding your ideal set makeup, you should look no further than your local PGA Professional or a certified club fitter. The reason why this is so important is to make sure you are selecting your clubs based on your game’s needs (distance gaps, shot selection, or frequent turf and sand conditions). When I fit my students for clubs, I not only ask them questions related to their current game, I assess them while I am coaching them. For example, if I see my player struggling to hit certain finesse or partial shots around the greens and they may benefit from a lob wedge, then that may start the process of filling the bag from the green backward. As we get further into the round and bag, I may notice that my player carrying a 4 iron, but struggles to hit it well or only uses it to punch out (trust me, I’ve had a few say that’s why it’s in the bag!), I will direct them toward the easier to hit hybrids. If I have a player who carries a 3W, but again can’t hit it off the ground and won’t use it off a tee, then we find out how he feels about a higher lofted fairway wood instead. Sometimes by doing this we can consolidate two clubs into one and it may free up space for a another wedge or whatever may be needed. If you break it down to the fact that over 60% of shots come from inside 100 yards, you can really start to see where the most importance should be placed when finding your ideal setup. You need long clubs you can rely on to get you into position and then use the scoring clubs to do just that – “score”!
For beginning amateurs, you don’t even need a full set. Because you are building your skills and swing speed throughout this process, you may find that you are hitting multiple clubs the same distance. For you, selecting every other club down to your 8 or 9 iron may be a great way for you to see distance gaps and again, you can focus having enough wedges in your bag to help you score your best. Whatever you decide to do, it is ultimately up to you! I will say again, your local PGA Professional or certified club fitter, and a couple of great questions or an assessment of your game, will go a long way to help you select the best set makeup for you! Good luck!!!
Take Your Time
I have worked with hundreds of golfers that have clubs in their bag that they don’t use. Most of the time it is because they have no confidence in them, or they don’t know how far they go. My recommendation when it comes to club fitting is to take your time. Take the time to work with a reputable club fitter that will help you fill in the distance gaps between your longest iron and the driver, and your pitching wedge and most lofted wedge.
Take the time to hit different fairway woods and hybrids with different shaft flexes, and weight until you are confident that you have the right club. I personally like feeling of more weight in my fairway woods but I know plenty of golfers that want a lighter feeling. Take the time and find one that performs the best for you.
Finding the right wedge set up is also very personal, and it depends a lot on how far you hit your irons. If you hit your pitching wedge 140 yards, you may need 3 wedges, but if your pitching wedge goes 90 yards, you may only need one other wedge.
Start with a Professional Fitting to Fill the Gaps in Your Bag
There is no longer a cookie cutter set of clubs that fits every golfer. We encourage golfers to set up a fitting with a golf professional that uses a launch monitor to make sure you have the right mix of clubs for your game. Some golfers like hybrids versus long irons and this means this individual will have more hybrids and lesson irons in the bag. There are golfers that insist on carrying four wedges and there are other golfers that only want two wedges and that can work depending on their level of play and their swing speed. As you do your fitting use the launch monitor to see the distance of your clubs and this will eliminate the gaps between clubs and will confirm in your mind that you have a club for every distance.
The slower you swing the club means you will notice less distance between clubs and this can even allow us to skip clubs for some beginners. So for a beginner we might see a set look like a High Loft Driver (13-14 degrees), 7 wood, 5 hybrid, 7 iron, 9 iron, sand wedge and a putter. As they continue to improve and enjoy the game then they can add more clubs as needed. A low handicap player might need a driver, 3 wood, 3 hybrid/crossover, 4 iron – PW, AW and a lob wedge and a putter. As you can see it can vary depending on your level of play, swing speed, and what you like.
The important thing is to get fit with a launch monitor and get what you need in your bag to play your best golf.
Know Your Distances!
There are a lot of options in equipment these days and with only being able to carry 14 clubs in your bag, picking the correct set configuration can certainly help lower your scores. The key to knowing what you need is to understand your personal game and most importantly, how far you ‘carry’ the ball with each club. Ideally, you want to maintain equal distance gapping between each club throughout your set…say 15 yards between each club. As you move into your longer clubs, this may become more difficult to achieve as most players (particularly those with slower swing speeds) will tend to plateau and hit their long irons / fairway woods the same distance. This is where hybrids and lofted fairways woods come into play and can help get the ball higher into the air to help gain crucial carry distance. The big mistake many beginner and intermediate players make is assuming they must have a driver and 3-wood in their bag. This is not always true and many players may benefit from a more lofted wood such as a high launch 3-wood or even a 4-wood or perhaps a hybrid instead of a 5-iron. Loft is your friend and can make life much easier when starting out.
This is a great topic and one that’s probably not talked about enough. Equipment changes rapidly and there is certainly a lot to more to consider such as your local turf conditions, wind tendencies where you play most, etc. The best advice I can leave you with is consult your local PGA professional. They can best observe and evaluate your game and make the best recommendation to help improve your game!
Replace your long irons with hybrids.....today
People ask me all the time for help with their long irons. And the first thing I tell them is to get a three, four and five hybrid to replace those long irons. Hybrids are far more effective option; for those of us with average to below average clubhead speed; than the long iron because the nature of the clubhead allows for the player to sustain more lag angle in the downswing. And as we all know, the better the lag, the farther the ball goes. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re at your local golf shop, take your five iron and hit a few balls versus a five hybrid, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
The best thing anyone can do is consult with their PGA Professional. They will help standardize the gaps between your clubs for consistency top to bottom.
Higher handicap golfers should favor higher lofted clubs. For example, a 16°-18° fairway metal can be easier to get of the ground; hybrids will be more forgiving than long irons. Remember that your set does not have to match (brand), but you may find a 54° wedge closes the gap between your PW and your LW better. The key is how far you hit each one.
Testing clubs at your local golf shop with your professional is the best way to find the right set for your game.
Tony Letendre, PGA
Asst. General Manager
Dove Canyon Golf Club, Dove Canyon, CA
Set make up
When you are thinking of the clubs in your bag there are no stock answers. Club companies do not have a standard loft for clubs. Realizing that loft is your friend think about having higher lofted woods/ hybrids at the top of your set. We saw this weekend at the TPC, players with 21degree 7woods. 5iron is probably the highest iron I would suggest for beginners to start with their set. Once you get to the wedges, having three wedges gives you the option to make a similar swing and get three different results . Most importantly create your set how it works for you, not what you are observing your playing partners have in their bag.
Trust your PGA Professional!
Coming up with a 14 club set make up has a lot of variables. Consult your PGA Professional, this is what they do; help golfers improve their game through instruction and club fitting. It has been my experience that most golfers (excluding professionals and elite amateurs) over estimate their ability. Their shafts are too stiff and the lofts in their driver, fairway woods and hybrids are too low, and, they do not have enough wedges in their bag. With that said if I had a male, 15 handicap golfer with a driver swing speed of 85 mph this would be my recommend.
12 degree driver, 17 degree 3 fairway, 21 degree 5 fairway, 23 and 26 degree hybrids, 6-9, pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge and putter. With graphite medium flex shafts.
Do yourself a favor and get fit for clubs with a golf professional who will undoubtedly being looking out for your best interest.
PGA Teaching Professional
Rolling Meadows Country Club, Ellington, CT
Perfect 14 Club Equipment Golf Set
This question for the perfect 14 club set is very open ended for most golfers, because your clubs have to match the player. Case in point is a recreational golfer vs competition golfer. Both love the game. Both have different skills and priorities on the golf course. The recreational golfer has been told in the golf media to get more distance with each club. The competition golfer knows exact distances for all thirteen full, half and quarter swings. The Fourteenth club in players bags is the putter which is only professional fit for 6% of American Players. The putter is used 40% on average of the total stroke total on a scorecard. As a PGA Professional Club Fitter for the Recreational Golfer that gets professionally fit for equipment. They actually improves sooner on scorecard then the competition golfer. This is the real answer for your perfect 14 club equipment set.
How to decide on 14 clubs
Deciding on 14 clubs can be a confusing endeavor with so many options out there. The only two clubs we know we need is a putter and a driver. How do we decide on all the clubs in between? This really depends on club head speed and how far you carry your clubs. In general, if you are lower in club head speed you should have fewer irons and more hybrids and fairway woods. If you are higher in club head speed you should have more irons and maybe only 1 hybrid and 1 fairway wood. Your consistency of contact also plays a role in your deciding how to make up your set. I highly recommend going to see a local PGA professional to get more detailed recommendations for your game.
The Farms Golf Club, Rancho Santa Fe, CA