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Building the perfect half set

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Beyond physically putting clubs together, one of my favorite games to play is trying to build the ideal half set, and taking it out for some testing on the course. The goal is to see how few clubs I can play with before it becomes a detriment to my game and my scoring—while still having fun trying to hit all kinds of creative shots along the way

Many golfers have, at some point, played the “three-club challenge” (three including a putter), but that often becomes an exercise in caution and course management instead of what many would consider a usual round of golf. Although from the conversations I’ve had with golfers about trying out an extremely reduced set, the consensus generally ends up at, “I shot one of my best scores in a long time.”

I’m not sure how that sentiment potentially relates to handicap or not, but one way or the other, it’s a great way to lighten the load and have some fun thinking differently about your shots.

My ideal half set consists of 7-8 clubs including a putter, but in some cases, I will take it all the way down to 5-6. I love having the option to play with a full set and most times do, but I have gone weeks playing only with my half set and don’t see a noticeable variation in my scoring.

It actually makes me question why I carry a full set and in the grand scheme of golf. I think it would be one of the most entertaining experiments to have a PGA Tour event where players are limited to seven clubs. It would have the potential to make gearheads and the general fan engage in an interesting conversation.

Whatever way you choose to build your set, this is a quick start guide to play your best half set golf.

Thinking Your way Through Building a Half Set

  • The Putter: This is the one club that probably isn’t going anywhere (unless you are a virtuoso putting with a bellied wedge). You are going to be using this club on every hole, and depending on your comfort level hitting certain shots, you might end up using it further off the green than normal—cheers to the imagination! Build out from here, because shots inside 100 yards are still going to take up the majority of strokes on your card, and your putter is going to save you shots.
  • The “Wedge”: Remember that it wasn’t until the last generation of golfers that players started using a lob wedge. Tom Watson famously never put one in the bag and only carried up to a 56-degree. The ideal loft to start your set with is 52-54 degrees, because you can still hit shots out of the sand if needed, and it’s a great club to still hit full shots with—something that many golfers struggle to do with a lob wedge.
  • Your “Go-To” Shot: I think most golfers agree that trying to get more out of a club distance-wise often ends with less than great results. This is why as you go through your set and start to pick clubs, it’s important to think about your favorite go-to shots. You want to do everything you can to avoid standing over a ball trying to manipulate a club because you don’t have “that distance” in the bag. This is hugely important when you realize that close to 90 percent of hazards are placed in front of the green or target areas and being able to get over comfortably should be priority number one.
  • Know Your Iron Lofts:  Most modern sets have 4-5 degrees between each club, but as you get to the longer irons, even towards the middle of the set (7-iron to 5-iron) loft gaps can get smaller quickly, and for some this can equal a diminishing point of return on distance gapping. Don’t just grab every other iron, take a few minutes to think about the carry distance of each club, because that’s going to be important.
  • A Driver is Still Important: We all cant be Henrik Stenson with a 12-degree 3-wood we hit 300 yards. Unless you have plans to go truly minimalist, keeping a driver in the bag is a good idea. It is the largest and most forgiving club off the tee and will help put you into places that will make second shots a lot easier.
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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. John Gleason

    Apr 7, 2020 at 9:13 pm

    I shot my career low 66 last month w only carrying 10 clubs

  2. Paul

    Apr 2, 2020 at 8:56 am

    During these stressful times, I have been walking with 7 clubs including a putter. Surprised that my scores have not gone uo. I carry a lob wedge, pitching wedge, 7 iron, 3 hybrid, heavenwood, and driver..

  3. Lou

    Mar 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    I switched to walking with a half set two years ago and I love it…it feels like real golf, go where you want, enjoy the day

  4. Dale

    Mar 30, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Recently I’ve been taking only irons and playing the forward tees about once a week. Definitely is helping my iron game.

  5. WhoaNellie

    Mar 30, 2020 at 10:59 am

    “Full” Set, or, Nine is Fine – 11* D, 18.5* 5W, 26* 5H, 31* 7I, 36* 8I, 41* 9I, 46* PW, 56* SW, P
    Half set – 11* D, 18.5* 5W, 26* 5H, 36* 8I, 46* PW, 56* SW, P
    Half Dozen Set – Drop the D
    Thrive with 5 – 18.5* 5W, 31* 7I, 46* PW, 56* SW, P
    3 and a P – 18.5* 5W, 36* 8I, 56* SW, P
    3 Club Cfhallenge – 18.5* 5W, 46* PW, P
    1 and Done – 31* 7I
    I think about this far too much, but as that great American thespian and golfer, Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limitations …” I only use 9 clubs for my Thursday scramble outings. Half set is my “own score” set unless the D is not cooperating, then I go with Half Dozen. I am probably most comfortable with Half Dozen–hit the 5W once (longer par 3), twice (par 4), or 3 times (par5) and then scramble to clean it up.

  6. joro

    Mar 30, 2020 at 10:26 am

    No matter what your combo is you are probably finding out your scores are about the same as a full set. One thing is I have found out is that there are fewer decisions than with more clubs to choose from and it also improves your shotmaking to have to speed up or slow down your swing, in other words control the shot. I have tried it all and very little difference in scoring, even to a one time 1 over par with a six iron and a putter. But the main thing is make it fun and learn from it, you would be surprised how it ends up.

    • Acemandrake

      Mar 30, 2020 at 11:49 am

      All true. Learn while having fun & you’re never “between clubs”. 🙂

  7. Karsten's Ghost

    Mar 29, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    6 clubs, if you must.

    Driver, 19h, 6i, 9i, 54, putter.

    If it’s down to just one club, I’ll take the 8-iron. I can putt with it.

  8. Night putter

    Mar 28, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    7 clubs
    2 woods. Driver, 5w Calloways
    2 irons . 5 & 8 Hogan edge plus
    2 wedges. Pw & sw Ping becu zing2 & eye2
    Putters

  9. tocino

    Mar 28, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Driver
    3 Hybrid
    4, 6, 8, P
    58*
    Putter

    I actually have this setup in the back of my car for whenever i have time to stop by the range after work. The irons are all miss matched between Titleist AP2, 714 AP2, 716 AP2, and a SCOR PW. I’ve been meaning to get a sunday bag to keep everything together. Haven’t tried this set yet playing an actual round but i could probably do “ok” if i had to

  10. Dane Dresch

    Mar 28, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Modern 10 Club
    Driver
    3-wood
    19 Hybrid
    4 utility Srixon U65 23*
    6 Game Improvement Srixon 565 31*
    8 Forged Cavity Back Srixon 765 38*
    PW Blade Srixon 965 46*
    Cleveland RTX 3 52*
    Cleveland RTX 3 *60
    Cleveland TA Milled 2

  11. Alex

    Mar 27, 2020 at 11:35 pm

    Driver, hybrid, 4 iron, 6 iron, 9 iron, 55 wedge, flat stick

  12. Joe Exotic

    Mar 27, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    What is the driver set at? It’s 8* and set even lower, dang!!

  13. Josh

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Driver
    7 wood
    6 iron
    8 iron
    PW
    56
    Putter

    • WhoaNellie

      Mar 30, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Nay laddie. I turn 67 on Friday, arthritic knees, achy right shoulder, decidedly non-hipster. I don’t need 11 clubs to divide up the paltry distance between D and SW.

      • WhoaNellie

        Mar 30, 2020 at 10:25 am

        Also, my vision is going. My comment should be on the post below.

  14. Jbone

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    Half sets are so hipster

  15. dave

    Mar 27, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    Happened to have just posted on this in the thread re Linksoul Color Theory irons the other day. Here’s my post cut and pasted:

    Highly recommend trying a short bag. With a short bag I’m currently scoring as well as or better than I ever have with a full bag.

    Have always enjoyed playing with one club (usually 4 iron) or three clubs (usually hybrid/5w/7w, 8 iron and putter).

    I’ve been playing with only 7 or 8 clubs since early January. D, 3w, 22 deg hybrid, 6i, 8i, (PW), SW, P. Irons are Mizuno MP-69.

    Played for a long time with 7 clubs, added PW a few weeks ago. But haven’t scored better since adding it.

    I have played to or below my current hcp. in every round since I switched to the short set (about 10 rounds), though admittedly my hcp was a bit high going into the no-score-posting season — it was a 12, usually a 9 or 10.

    I also shot my lowest lifetime score on my home course on a crappy cold and wet day in January — WITH 7 CLUBS.

    I carry a single strap Jones bag with no stand and it’s an absolute joy to walk our very hilly course with the short bag.

  16. 15th Club

    Mar 27, 2020 at 8:16 pm

    1. 13* 3 wood
    2. 5i
    3. 7i
    4. 9i
    5. 52 gw
    6. 58 sw
    7. Putter

    To whatever extent distance is an issue, I very happily move up a set of tees.
    Driver is by far the easiest thing to leave out.

  17. Knuckles

    Mar 27, 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Start with the scoring clubs first (the ones I play on 80% of my shots and work it from there).
    Putter
    56deg
    PW
    9 iron
    7 iron
    4 iron
    3w tuned to 13.5

  18. Jifmoli

    Mar 27, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Agree, forget the driver if you want to go below 7 clubs, one-trick pony for me really. But I own 2 and they are expensive so they do go in the bag at times. I vary what I stick in the bag, just for fun and a bit of change:

    3w, 5h, 7i, 9i, pw, 56o, p = 7
    D, 4h, 6i, 8i, pw, aw, 60o, p = 8

    Or extra minimal: 4h, 7i, aw, p

    I never play with full sets

  19. jackwoods@gmail.com

    Mar 27, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    comment sections is cry baby central get a life

  20. BringBackOldSchool

    Mar 27, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    This is truly a lost art. While starting to see a bigger comeback in this new millennium, this is exactly how golfers started out years ago. The half set was, and I believe still is, the best way to start golfers out in this game. It wasn’t until a golfer honed their games with a half set, that they’d graduate to a full set and fill in the needed gaps. I also believe most average golfers hinder their development and play because of all the options of 14 clubs. Imagine if most average golfers played a half set and limited their confusion on the course how faster golf would be? And more enjoyable? I might even solve some of the aliments the game struggles with today?

  21. Ojhs

    Mar 27, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    How is a driver the most forgiving club off the tee? And it’s also the only place where you can use it. I’d go driving iron or fw wood without a doubt.

    • gdb99

      Mar 30, 2020 at 11:23 am

      Because it’s the biggest?

      • Ojhs

        Apr 8, 2020 at 2:13 pm

        Fair enough, guess I confused ‘safe’ and ‘forgiving’. Just thought of most people going literally any other club to play safe.

  22. Joey

    Mar 27, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Played half-sets for quick rounds after work. Forgot to put the rest back for an outing and raked. Haven’t looked back since.

    3W-4H-6-8-PW-56-P

  23. Max

    Mar 27, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Dude, this is Golfwrx. Nobody here is trying to have LESS golf clubs. LoL

    But since you planted the seed, maybe I will go and price out a half set of PXG’s.

  24. Acemandrake

    Mar 27, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    After much trial & error…

    12° Driver…24° Hybrid…6…8…PW…SW…Putter (7 total)

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Equipment

Don’t get AMP’d up. Rickie is just testing shafts, y’all

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As you may have seen in our tour photos this week, Rickie Fowler has a new/old set of irons in the bag. Specifically, Fowler is gaming a set from 2013: the Cobra AMP Cell Pro.

But WHY?! Didn’t we just hear all the buzz about his self-designed Rev33? Well yes, we did.

Although the rumors and conspiracy theories may run wild, in this case, it’s a nothing burger.

He’s testing shafts folks, Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100, specifically, to get ready for major season.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – JULY 02: A detail of the bag and clubs of Rickie Fowler of the United States during the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on July 02, 2020 at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

But why didn’t he put them in the Rev33?

That’s a simple one as well: time and economics. Rather than pull apart his gamers or have a set chauffeured in from Carlsbad, Fowler, who was messing around with the AMP’s at home and who doesn’t have Rev33’s with X1oo’s hanging on his wall, brought them to Detroit this week to test.

If all goes well, we can count on a set of Rev33’s with X100’s to be built at HQ. If not, no harm, no foul, and we go back to the Rev33 with his normal KBS C-Taper 125 S+ shafts.

If anything, I find the coolest thing here is Rickie’s instinct to not be wasteful. That’s a good thing right?

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The best golf clubs for the money

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What are the best golf clubs for the money?

It’s a common question golfers ask, and depending on your skill level and budget, the answer can vary greatly. So, to help you figure out what the best clubs for you are, we’ve broken it down into a few categories to help you in the decision making process.

Best golf clubs for the money

Beginner Golfer – Entry-level budget

Getting your first set of clubs is all about maximizing value to get enjoyment out of going to the course or the range and most often involves buying a complete package set. Could you go directly to a high-end fitter to have them set you up with thousands of dollars would of gear? Of course, but it would be like getting handed the keys to a supercar without ever having a driver’s license—drive over a few curbs with a starter car before taking those skills to a four-lane highway.

Now just because you’re looking at a box set doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Wilson, for example, offers various sized sets for golfers based on static height measurements—which is a perfect starting point. It’s important for you to start off on the right foot, and even if they aren’t a perfect fit, the closer you are to the ideal set will make getting started a lot easier and a lot more fun.

The other option is to buy used, and with so many resources available online including used specialty sites like GolfAvenue.ca, you can find clubs in the 5-plus-year-old category that are going to offer tremendous value if you know where to look. This way of shopping for clubs often requires a bit more research to make sure you are buying the best clubs suited for your game, but depending on what you buy, you could get many years out of clubs purchased this way.

Check out the podcast link below for the GolfWRX, On Spec Episode- Building a $500 golf bag:

Play a lot of golf, and looking for value

This is where I believe most golfers tend to fit in, and it is also where you have the greatest number of options when looking for equipment. The idea of value will mean different things to different people, but when looking to get the most out of your equipment, getting fit is going to offer the best long term value for your game.

Depending on where you are buying your equipment, you can still buy “new” but purchase a previous generation model to save sometimes up to 30 percent, and if you are one of the lucky ones that happen to fit into “off the rack” irons and wedges, minus a grip or lie adjustment, then you can once again shop for previous-generation gear and see huge savings while still getting the best equipment for you.

The other option of getting great value and great quality equipment is shopping DTC—direct to consumer. There are a number of brands that have forgone the traditional selling channels and allow you to purchase custom-fit clubs direct for up to half the cost of traditional manufacturers including Ben Hogan, New Level, and Sub 70. These brands offer top-of-the-line gear, but thanks to their marketing approach and streamlined operations you can get fantastic value and high-quality gear built just for you.

Play a lot of golf – spare no expense

If you fit into this category, you are going to have the greatest number of options when it comes to finding equipment. Just like with any consumer product/experience, this approach is the most expensive, but it also puts the highest value on maximizing performance over anything else.

The most common scenario is working with a brand agnostic club fitter and if you are looking for one near you, check out our GolfWRX best drivers of 2020 article for our list of some of the best club fitters and facilities in North America.  Brand-agnostic fitters won’t limit your set by brand and will instead go through every option within your fitting parameters to make sure you are getting the most out of your clubs.

The best golf clubs for the money but will ultimately be based on your budget but the price doesn’t have to be a reflection of the amount of fun you can have playing golf.

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We want our members’ WITBs! Submit your WITB to be featured on the GolfWRX front page

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Greetings, GolfWRXers!

WITB (both member and Tour) has been at the heart our site since day one. Today, it’s a major component of our front page content, and there is no shortage of member WITB threads in our forums as well.

What we’d like to do is standardize the presentation of some member WITBs and member WITB photos so we can feature them on the front page. More to the point: We want to showcase our members’ WITB in the same way we do, say, Tiger Woods on the front page.

We think that beyond the “seeing your name in lights” factor, it’ll create some really cool material for the front page and it will also be incredibly informative and helpful for fellow members.

So, what do we mean by “standardizing” the presentation?

Look at Tiger Woods’ 2020 Farmers Insurance WITB below.

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 60 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees)

Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 80 TX

Irons: TaylorMade P7TW (3-PW)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: TaylorMade MG 2 “Tiger MT Grind” (56-12, 60-11 degrees)

Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS

Grip: Ping PP58 Blackout

Golf Ball: Bridgestone TourB XS

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Additionally, we will showcase an image of the club in question for each section and a full bag shot (minimum dimensions 1024×768) as the featured image. For the purposes of the thread, feel free to add all the photos at the end or insert them throughout.

In addition, feel free to add a paragraph or two about your set up, the method behind your madness, your age, current handicap index etc. Anything you feel that’s relevant and that you think your fellow WRXers will find informative and beneficial!

We’d like you, GolfWRXers, to share your WITBs in this thread using the format above.

So get submitting your WITB in our forum as we’ll be publishing them on our front page over the coming days and weeks!

Share your WITBs here.

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