Edited by: Jordan Fuller
Reviewed by: John Marshall
Getting into golf can be intimidating. If you weren’t introduced to the game as a child, you might look at all the clubs, the golf course and wonder how exactly it all fits together.
While I always suggest you take a few lessons at a driving range before you hit the course, even that can be tough: what clubs do you need at the driving range? Do you need a full set of the latest and greatest?
In this article, we’ll look at the best golf clubs you can get for little money.
Featured Recommendations: Best Golf Sets For The Money
Featured Recommendations: Best Individual Golf Clubs For The Money
With all the different types of clubs, not to mention the hundreds of different manufacturers and price ranges you’ll find, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And you don’t want to pull the trigger and spend the money only to find that you paid too much for clubs that aren’t right for you.
This article will help you figure out the best deals on the best clubs for each facet of the game of golf. We’ll cover drivers, fairway woods, wedges and putters, as well as a few complete sets in case you want to make one single purchase and be done with it.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Featured Recommendations: Best Golf Sets For The Money
- 2 Featured Recommendations: Best Individual Golf Clubs For The Money
- 3 Best Golf Clubs For The Money (2019 Buyer's Guide)
- 3.1 Complete Sets
- 3.2 Drivers
- 3.3 Fairway Woods
- 3.4 Wedges
- 3.5 Putters
- 4 Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation
- 5 Questions & Answers
Best Golf Clubs For The Money
(2019 Buyer's Guide)
Our Top Complete Set For The Money: Callaway Strata Complete Golf Set
If you’re just starting out, or just getting back into the game and don’t know where to begin, the Callaway Strata Complete Set is an excellent jumping-off point. Complete sets like this Callaway Strata are here to take the burden off and get you onto the course faster.
With 12 clubs, including two hybrids and a sand wedge, and a bag, this is an excellent starter kit for those golfers on a budget.
If you don’t have the time or interest to learn about the intricacies of selecting a driver, woods, an iron set, wedges, and a putter, you can look into a complete set like this one.
It’s like buying a complete tool kit – you get all the basics and then you can customize it to your liking once you’ve had some time to learn.
The Callaway Strata set has an especially nice touch in that it includes a 4- and 5-hybrid instead of long irons.
Long irons are the most challenging clubs to hit. They’re so difficult that even many pros have stopped using them and opt for hybrids instead.
I always recommend that beginners skip long irons and start off with hybrids. It makes golf more fun and reduces the learning curve.
My biggest issue with the set is the putter. The face is inconsistent to the point that two putts hit with the same pace of stroke wind up rolling different distances.
It gets the job done well enough, but it’s the first piece of this set that I’d recommend upgrading when you have the time and budget space.
It’s nice that it comes with a golf bag, though it seems like the bag might wear out more quickly than the clubs. The zippers feel a little cheap, so be careful with them.
It’s good enough to get you hooked on the game, and once you’re hooked, you’ll know exactly what components you’d like to upgrade.
Best-priced Entry Level Set: Wilson Golf Ultra Complete Set
While the Callaway Strata Complete set is quite a bargain at under $400 for 12 clubs, that might still be too steep a price for someone just starting out.
The Wilson Ultra Complete Set comes with 9 clubs and at a price point around $150 is attractive to even the tightest budget.
First, what’s it missing? Well, there’s only one fairway wood and one hybrid, and there’s a pitching wedge but no sand wedge.
The sand wedge is the most glaring omission, but if you look at the Wilson Harmonized wedge reviewed above, it’ll make a nice addition to this set.
A set like this might even be better for a rank beginner, as it removes some of the initial complexity of club choice. Let’s face it: a player won’t know the difference between a 6-iron and a 7-iron the first 10 times they hit the course.
So with a fairly sparse set like this one, the beginner is encouraged to just grab a club and focus on making good contact. I think that’s a great way to get started on the game.
Once you’ve played a few rounds and have a good feel for how far you’re hitting the hybrid vs the 6-iron, you can think about adding a 5-iron or 5-hybrid to your setup.
The irons included here have a nice thick head and provide a smooth feel and nice forgiveness, which is crucial for beginners. The driver doesn’t provide a ton of feel but it’s light and fast, and fairly forgiving.
The putter is surprisingly soft and rolled the ball nicely. It was a little lighter than I like my putter but it’ll work just fine for someone just starting out.
As with the Callaway set reviewed above, the bag included is fairly cheap, but it’s good enough to last for a few seasons. And by that time, you’ll be addicted to the glorious game of golf and ready to upgrade anyway.
Our Top Driver: TaylorMade Men's RBZ Black Driver
The TaylorMade RBZ Black driver is a great way to start off your round.
At less than half the price of most other TaylorMade drivers, the RBZ doesn’t feature all the bells and whistles of the M5 and M6 but it absolutely holds its own performance-wise.
I’m a big fan of the simplicity of the design. It’s a 460cc driver with a titanium head and a classic shape. The lines are clean, and the understated alignment aid on the crown is plaintive but effective.
I’m a big fan of the simplicity of the design. It’s a 460cc driver with a titanium head and a classic shape. The lines are clean, and the understated alignment aid on the crown is plaintive but effective.
There are no sliding weights on the bottom, just a tried-and-true perimeter weighted design that will help correct mis-hits and send purely struck balls rocketing down the fairway.
The hosel provides the only adjustability options here: it allows you to tweak the loft of the driver. If you find you’re having trouble getting the ball in the air, add a little loft. If your ball is ballooning and you’re not getting any roll-out, de-loft it a little.
This simple adjustability offering is easy to grasp and very easy to get the right setting dialed in. You won’t need to spend hours on the driving range going through thousands of different weighting options.
With ten minutes of minor tweaking, you can nail your preferred trajectory setting and focus on just hitting the sweet spot.
TaylorMade is one of the most respected driver manufacturers in the game, so at a price point under $200, the RBZ driver truly represents a great value. It outperforms many drivers that cost more than double that, so it’s our top pick for the best driver for the money.
Our Pick For Pure Distance: Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero
The Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero driver has developed a reputation as being one of the longest drivers ever made, but it normally has a price tag to match. The refurbished versions can be found at half the price without sacrificing performance.
The Epic is crafted of a combination of titanium and carbon fiber composite that allows for extreme weight distribution that maximizes moment of inertia in the sweet spot. It’s also very light, which can help increase your clubhead speed.
I like the alignment aid on the crown; it helps focus the eye on the sweet spot. And when you do hit the sweet spot, the ball really takes off, like it’s bouncing off a springboard or a trampoline.
However, this ultra-hot sweet spot does come at a cost: it’s a little smaller than most other drivers’ sweet spots, and if you miss it, you lose significant distance.
This can be mitigated by using the interchangeable weights on the bottom of the club. Move the heavier weight to the back for more forgiveness but less distance, or move the heavy weight to the front for maximum distance but less forgiveness.
If you’re willing to sacrifice some accuracy and distance on mis-hits for pure yardage on good swings, the Great Big Bertha Epic driver should fulfill your needs. And the Certified Refurbished version ought to fit your budget nicely.
Our Top Fairway Wood For The Money: TaylorMade AeroBurner
With a thin but strong clubface and a “speed pocket” in the sole helping to increase ball speed, the Aeroburner is as long as any fairway wood I’ve hit and offers decent forgiveness as well.
Because of this high-level performance and extremely reasonable price tag, it’s our top pick for the best fairway wood for the money.
TaylorMade is there for you with the AeroBurner fairway wood, an attractive and effective entry at a price that’s hard to beat.
It’s eye-catching right off the bat with its bright white club head and matching bright white Matrix shaft. Some golfers may find this coloration off-putting, and I’ll admit it took me some getting used to.
It also requires cleaning more often if you hit it out of the rough, as the grass will leave green stains on the white club head.
The clubhead sits nicely below the ball, putting a great picture in your mind of a nice impact position and a high, long shot.
The alignment aid at the sweet spot is aided by subtle lines that surround the hitting area and encourage you to focus on making good contact.
The shaft is slightly whippier than I’d like, but that’s actually a good thing for beginners because it helps elevate the ball quickly.
Hitting a fairway wood off the ground can be tricky, so a more flexible shaft can assist in getting the ball airborne. However, into the wind, I found the high launch angle sometimes made the ball balloon, reducing distance more than you’d hope.
Since the shaft is a little whippy, I’d suggest that most golfers go with the stiff flex to help prevent ballooning and increase accuracy. However, if you’re used to ladies’ or senior flex shafts, the regular flex AeroBurner should suit you nicely.
Best Fairway Wood If You’re Fighting A Slice: Tour Edge Golf Hot Launch 2
Tour Edge is a relatively small golf club manufacturer but they have a great reputation, built largely on top-quality fairway woods.
The Hot Launch series is aimed at beginners and high handicappers who need a little help getting the ball into the air off the ground.
Since they’ve released the Hot Launch 3 line, the Hot Launch 2 line is available at a reduced price, but it still offers excellent performance.
The 3-wood looks a little clunky and basic at first glance. The dull black paint job and minimal alignment aids don’t give you much help when addressing the ball.
However, the shots the club produces are surprisingly impressive. The ball gets into the air quickly with a nice, penetrating flight.
The slight offset in the hosel will aid most beginners, as it helps correct a slice and produce great roll once the ball lands.
Overall distance was a little less than the TaylorMade Aeroburner, and mis-hits didn’t fly nearly as far. But at this price, the performance far exceeded expectations.
If you find the all-white design of the AeroBurner distracting or you’re looking for a more penetrating ball flight without ballooning, the Tour Edge Hot Launch 2 is well worth taking a look at.
However, as Tour Edge isn’t a very well-known company, you may have trouble re-selling the club for a decent price if you ultimately decide it’s not working out for you.
There just isn’t as much demand for used Tour Edge clubs, and the price is so good for a new one that people might not want to risk buying a used club. I’d venture a guess, however, that you’ll like the club so much that selling it won’t be a concern.
Our Top Wedge For The Money: Wilson Harmonized Golf
The grooves are nice and tight and put more than enough backspin on the ball to keep it on the green. I was even able to “pull the string” and spin some full shots back.
Either way, you’re going to need a wedge you can trust. The Wilson Harmonized wedge is a classic, tried-and-true design that comes at a very attractive price.
You can get a gap wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge for about the same price as you’d normally pay for a single wedge.
Of course, wedges are only as good as the shots they produce. Fortunately, the Wilson Harmonized wedge is a very useful club.
The club head is on the heavy side, which I found helped with both greenside chipping and with sand shots.
I could write an entire article — heck, maybe even a whole book — about hitting good sand shots. But it boils down to this: use the “bounce” of the wedge to slide the club through the sand below the ball. The sand then propels the ball up onto the green.
On a greenside bunker shot, the clubface never actually touches the ball — just the sand. With a light clubhead, it may glance off the sand and contact the ball, sending it rocketing over the green and guaranteeing double bogey or worse.
But with a nice heavy clubhead, it slides through the sand and pops the ball up to the green.
The stock grip is a bit cheap feeling and the chrome coating of the wedge wears off fairly quickly, but the performance at this price level means the Wilson Harmonized wedge merits the distinction of our top wedge for the money.
Best Wedge Bargain For Short Term Use: Texan Classics Gun Metal (Set of 3)
Texan Classics isn’t a brand most golfers are familiar with, and these are the first clubs of theirs that I’ve tried. I’ll be frank with you: these wedges aren’t going to bring the quality or performance of name-brand wedges.
However, for beginners who are starting out with a sparse set and may only have a pitching wedge, this is a great way to see if you’re ready to hit the more lofted wedges.
They should perform well enough and last long enough for you to decide if you want to invest in some higher-quality wedges.
My thinking here is similar to how I buy tools. I buy a cheap set of tools, and whatever breaks first, I buy the nicest one of those I can afford. This helps me figure out which tools I actually need and use the most.
The same principle applies to wedges for beginners. While the pros use their wedges with surgical precision, beginners often find it very hard to hit a decent wedge shot.
Lob wedges especially present problems, as it’s very easy to chunk one and then blade the next one.
A few chunks or blades in a row and your confidence will be shot!
So if you’re just starting to look into carrying multiple wedges but you’re not sure if you’re quite good enough to effectively use a lob wedge, you can pick up this set for next to nothing and try it out.
They perform well enough for beginners and occasional golfers to feel quite pleased with their purchase.
By the time the grip has worn out and the gunmetal coating has worn off, you’ve practiced enough with these to understand how to hit wedges properly and then you’re ready for an upgrade.
So while I wouldn’t recommend these to low handicappers or experienced players, these offer a great buy for those just starting out who don’t want to spend $300 on wedges they’re not even sure they can hit.
Our Top Putter For The Price: Majek K5 P-202 Sabertooth Claw Style
Despite this sharply lower price, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the putter. If you’d handed it to me and told me it was $250, I’d have believed you. The clubface is nice and soft, and its groove pattern gets the ball rolling nicely.
Distance control is consistent thanks to the high moment of inertia. Even mis-hits rolled out pretty well and sometimes found the hole.
The only giveaway that this isn’t a high-end manufacturer is the slightly sloppy paint fill, but that’s a cosmetic issue that only shows up under close inspection. You won’t notice it while standing over the ball, and it won’t negatively affect performance.
When Keegan Bradley entered the PGA Championship in 2011, not many people had heard of him. He’d won once on tour but it was the first major he’d ever played in.
But on Sunday, he found himself in contention, needing to make some birdies coming down the stretch to keep up with the charging Jason Dufner.
On the 17th green, he holed a crucial 35-footer for birdie and his putter caught my eye. I hadn’t seen one quite like that. Turns out it was Odyssey’s Sabertooth design, with long, curved arms extending back from the perimeter of the clubface.
The Sabertooth has since become a very popular design thanks to its high moment of inertia and great sightlines. The curving outer lines mimic the hole, and the inner alignment rods frame the ball beautifully.
The K5 P-202 from Majek is clearly derived from this Odyssey design, but it’s available at a quarter of the cost of a typical Odyssey putter.
Honestly, I expected to find more drawbacks with this putter due to the affordable price, but I’d recommend it to anyone even if price was no object. As a result, the Majek K5 P-202 gets the nod as our best putter for the money.
Alternative Putter Option: Ray Cook Golf Silver Ray SR500
I understand that the Sabertooth design isn’t for everybody (if it was, then everybody would be using it!). I’m also a big fan of TaylorMade’s Spider putters that pros like Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson have used to great success on tour.
However, Spider putters start at about $300 and go on up from there, so they’re not going to fit into every golfer’s budget. You could play 15 rounds of golf at my local muni for $300!
Ray Cook Golf offers this Silver Ray SR500 putter at a much friendlier price, and it performs surprisingly well.
One issue I had right out of the box was that the grip was installed improperly, causing the putter face to be slightly closed. So I did have to replace the grip right off the bat. A putter grip is about $20-25, so even with that factored in, the Silver Ray is still quite a bargain.
The bottom line is that it did make putts. It wasn’t always pretty, it didn’t always feel fantastic, but the ball got rolling on the proper line. That’s the main goal on the putting green, isn’t it?
Distance control was pretty good, though I felt like putts hit out on the toe lost more distance than heel strikes.
The paint chips off the clubface very easily, and eventually started coming off of the alignment aids on top of the putter. This is a pretty easy fix: just apply some nail polish into the grooves and wipe the excess off. Dry overnight and it’s good to go.
These minor quibbles are to be expected at this price point. The important question is whether the putts go in, and the SR500 excelled at turning good strokes into made putts.
Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation
Criteria 1: Craftsmanship – Will this club last through the season?
When you’re buying a golf club, you need to know that it’s a reliable performer. It needs to be well-designed and put together solidly, with expert craftsmanship.
The grip should be aligned properly on the shaft, the clubhead should feel solidly attached to the shaft, and the paint should be properly applied and durable.
This list isn’t just the lowest-priced options out there. Sure, you want to save some money, but if the club breaks and you have to buy a new one, did you really save any money at all?
Criteria 2: Performance – Does the club work?
I’ve been to a thousand different golf stores and pro shops and tried out clubs in every price range imaginable.
I’ve putted with $10 putters that performed brilliantly, and rolled putts with $500 putters that felt like bricks.
I’ve hit drivers with $1,000 shafts that felt like concrete, and drivers with cheap stock shafts that felt incredible. These are the exceptions, but they prove that price doesn’t automatically equal performance.
The bottom line is: does the club work? Obviously, spending more will usually mean you’re getting a club built with better materials, but that’s not always the case.
Finding comparable performance for less money leaves you with more to spend on lessons and greens fees!
Criteria 3: Feel – The most elusive and toughest to define
OK, I’ll admit it: feel ultimately comes down to personal preference. Look at putters: some people swear by soft, rubbery inserts, while others can’t imagine anything but a solid block of steel. The debate about forged irons vs cast irons is decades old.
I love the buttery smooth feel of a purely-struck shot with a forged iron, but others like to really feel the ball hit the clubface and prefer a cast golf club. A shaft might be perfect for me but too whippy for you, while what feels like an overly stiff telephone pole to me might be ideal for a faster swinger.
For this criteria, I’m going to give you my personal rating but also try to give you an overall idea of how the club responds to a good swing or putting stroke. While it’s hard to define “great feel”, we all know what bad feel is. I’ll help you avoid those clubs.
Criteria 4: Desirability – Is this an in-demand club?
The desirability of a club doesn’t affect the performance of it at all, but it still matters. Why? First off, there’s an active resale market out there for golf clubs. What works for you this week might feel all wrong in a month.
Some golfers will fight through this and try to rekindle confidence with an ill-performing club, but others will look to sell the club and replace it. This is obviously much easier to do with a well-known, desirable brand.
And, let’s face it: we don’t usually play golf alone. While there’s something to be said for playing great with a set of ratty, no-name clubs, it can actually help your confidence to sport a bag full of clubs that you know are in demand.
It’s a good feeling when a golf buddy looks at your driver and says, “hey, let me try that thing out!”
Criteria 5: Bang for the Buck – How good a value is this club?
If money was no object, you’d probably just go to a nearby golf professional, spend all day getting fitted for clubs and walk away with a bag full of clubs that cost as much as a midsize car. But for most of us, that’s not an option.
Each year, we have limited funds to put towards new golf equipment. It’s great if we have a driver that works and is still in good shape, but the grooves might be wearing down on your irons and wedges – and that can cause a seriously negative impact on your game.
Or you might have improved over the past year and feel like it’s time to upgrade your whole bag.
But when a driver alone can run over $500 before you even think about aftermarket shafts, you might find yourself with limited funds left over for a new putter, and wedges, and irons, and fairway woods, and balls, and shoes….and so on. So here we’re looking for bang for the buck: the best clubs at the best prices.
Questions & Answers
What clubs do I need to get started?
If you’re just starting out, it can be hard to figure out what exactly you need. You know there are golf clubs and putters and you’ve heard of a driver, but are wedges and irons the same thing? They look pretty similar! Here’s the basic rundown of an average golf bag with 14 clubs, which is the maximum amount allowed by the rules.
Fairway wood – these can be used off the tee for more control, or on longer holes to hit your second shot or your approach to the green. Usually steel or composite, and graphite shafts are the norm.
Irons – these comprise the majority of the clubs in your bag. They come in a range of 1-iron to 9-iron, but for most players, you’ll only want 4 through 9 iron or 5 through 9 iron. The 1-, 2-, and 3-irons are just too hard to hit for all but the most experienced players. You use irons to hit the ball to the green.
Wedges – these look just like irons but have more loft for hitting higher shots, for chipping around the green, and for hitting shots out of sand traps. I recommend that players carry four wedges: pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, and lob wedge.
Most iron sets come with a pitching wedge, but you’ll generally buy gap through lob wedges separately. The lofts of these are typically: gap wedge – 52°, sand wedge – 56°, lob wedge – 60°.
Putter – the putter is used on the green to roll the ball into the hole. Putters have the widest variance in design of any club, and are the most likely golf club to be found at the bottom of a lake.
Do I need to get fitted for my clubs?
Getting custom-fitted for clubs is all the rage nowadays. However, many golfers don’t know where to begin, or if they need to improve first before custom-fitted clubs can really help them.
While it’s true that custom fitted clubs can improve your scores, it’s not always the best way to spend your money. A full-bag custom fitting can cost over $500, and that’s before you factor in the cost of the clubs!
Custom-made clubs are rarely available at a discount, so after a full fitting and the cost of the new clubs, you could be looking at several thousand dollars.
Beginners and golfers looking to just put a few dollars towards improving their game can still benefit from new technology without getting custom fitted.
Getting a few lessons from a local pro will go a long way, and the pro will be able to assess your equipment and tell you if the expense of clubfitting is necessary.
Until then, articles like this are here to help make sure you’re getting the right equipment for your game.
Do I really need all those clubs?
For a true beginner, having 14 clubs in your bag can be too many. It gets overwhelming, and you won’t always have someone with you telling you what club to hit.
When I was starting out as a child, I had a 3-wood, 5-iron, 7-iron, 9-iron, sand wedge and putter. I actually recommend that setup to juniors and beginners today! Until you start hitting decent shots with those clubs regularly, having more clubs will just confuse you.
Once you can consistently hit a 3-wood into the fairway off the tee, then it’s time to invest in a driver.
Then, when you figure out that you hit a 5-iron 170 yards and a 7-iron 150 yards, you’ll realize you need a 6-iron for 160 yard shots. So it’s time for a full set of irons.
Around the green, once you start chipping well with your sand wedge, you’ll realize you want to hit chips that fly higher or lower. And that’s when you’ll want to invest in a gap wedge and a lob wedge.
But at the beginning, focus on making good contact and keeping the ball in play. If you’re hitting it out of bounds or into water hazards, having more clubs won’t help! Just work on your swing and the rest will fall into place.