Greg Lord
By Rob Sauerhaft
Friday, March 02, 2007

While testing 872 clubs, our testers hit an incredible 150,000 shots. The end result was a lot of blisters for them and the secret to exactly which clubs are the best for the way you play.

We've created the perfect set of clubs for you. Every recommended club earned top grades in our ClubTest series. That's where you — our readers — tell us the best drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons and putters. We assembled your ideal set after conversations with GOLF MAGAZINE Top 100 Teachers, club makers and other experts. To read more about how we determined the clubs that would comprise your perfect set, click here.

Several factors contribute to your set makeup, including:

  • Your flexibility
  • Strength, and
  • Skill level
  • That's why we built four perfect sets: one each for low-handicappers, mid-handicappers, high-handicappers and seniors. So read on to discover your perfect set. Lower scores are in the bag.

    The Perfect Set for 0-9 Handicaps

    Your Game

    • Strong course-management skills and a reliable, repeating swing.
    • Swing the big stick well but still whack a couple loose drives.
    • Hit eight to 10 greens in regulation.
    • Get up-and-down more than half the time from 100 yards and in.
    • Miss the occasional putt you should make.
    • Swing speed is 95+ mph.

    What Should Be In Your Bag
    Driver: TaylorMade r7 HT (10.5º or lower) with graphite shaft, $500
    3-wood: Mizuno F-50 (13.5º) with graphite shaft, $280
    Hybrid driving iron: Sonartec MD Transition Club (19º) with graphite shaft, $199
    4-iron to PW: Mizuno MP-32 with steel shaft, $1,050
    Gap wedge: Titleist Vokey Design 200 Series (52º) with steel shaft (Tour Chrome), $125
    Sand wedge: Titleist Vokey Design 200 Series (56º) with steel shaft (Tour Chrome), $125
    Lob wedge: Titleist Vokey Design 200 Series (60º) with steel shaft (Tour Chrome), $125
    Putter: Odyssey White Steel 2-Ball, $215

    This set will improve the way you play because...

    • The F-50 Strong 3-wood has enough pop to tee off with on short par 4s and three-shot par 5s. Swing with control and confidence to rid yourself of the occasional squirrelly drive.
    • MP-32 irons complement your desire for maneuverability and enhanced control. Which means you can be more aggressive from tee to green and attack those hard-to-find pins.
    • Vokey wedges can be laid open or shut down, and can handle just about any lie imaginable.
    • Superior alignment aid on the White Steel 2-Ball putter ensures proper aim. Cash-in putts are as easy as point-and-shoot.

    Mizuno MP-32 4-iron to PW
    This sweet forging has a pseudo-cavity to manage your minor mis-hits. Our panelists hit any shot they desired and impact was marshmallow-soft. The best of both worlds, really.

    Titleist Vokey Design 200 Series (Tour Chrome) wedges
    Tour pros love the look, feel and playability. You will too. We gave you a lob wedge to get you out of prickly spots. If the 60º is new for you, practice before calling on it in the heat of battle.

    TaylorMade r7 HT driver (10.5º or lower)
    Movable weighting lets you dial in your preferred ball flight. Place both 10-gram weights toward the face to lower your trajectory.

    Mizuno F-50 Strong 3-wood (13.5º)
    Our testers agreed this makes an attractive second driving club. It's long, has a hot face, lets you work it both ways and glides through turf with little or no resistance.

    Sonartec MD Transition Club Hybrid driving iron (19º)
    Dump your 3-iron in favor of the MD. Our panel praised its penetrating low flight, smooth feel and dynamite forgiveness. Use it for position on short par 4s, to hold more greens or as an extra chipping club.

    OdysseyWhite Steel 2-Ball putter
    The combo insert--urethane surrounds milled steel--offered excellent distance control in our most recent PutterTest. Its feel ain't bad, either--testers drained the most putts with White Steel.


    Check Your Options

    If you consider yourself a real player and a guy who wants ultimate workability, then you may want to tweak your set with these clubs.

    4-wood: Mizuno F-50 (16.5º). Try a 4-wood if you're a big knocker. You're bound to gain some control over the 3-wood.

    4-iron to PW: A mixed set consisting of cavity-back mid-irons and blade-style short irons makes sense for you. Look for the Mizuno MP-32 and MP-37, Titleist Forged 735CM or Tommy Armour Morph. Another option is to drop the hybrid and go with a full set (3-PW) of blade irons. Faves include Ben Hogan Apex, Cleveland CG1, MacGregor V-Foil M675, Mizuno MP-33 and Titleist 690MB.

    Sand wedge: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (58º). It can take the place of the 56º and the 60º.

    To read more about how we determined the clubs that would comprise your perfect set, click here.

    For instruction tips on how to use your perfect set of clubs, click here.

    The Perfect Set For 10-20 handicaps

    Your Game

    • Three or four drives per round find real trouble (woods, hazards, etc.).
    • Long iron shots lack the distance and/or direction you intend. (Hit just three to six greens in regulation.)
    • Inconsistent short game from 100 yards in; you don't get up-and-in as often as you should.
    • Three or four three-putts per round.
    • Swing speed is 80 to 95 mph.

    What Should Be In Your Bag
    Driver: TaylorMade r7 HT (12º or below) with graphite shaft, $500
    4-wood: Mizuno F-50 (16.5º) with graphite shaft, $280
    7-wood: Mizuno F-50 (21º) with graphite shaft, $280
    Hybrid: Sonartec MD Transition Club (23º) with graphite shaft, $199
    5-iron to PW: Callaway Big Bertha Fusion with graphite shaft, $1,140
    Sand wedge: Cleveland CG10 (54º), standard bounce, $149
    Lob wedge: Cleveland CG10 (58º), standard bounce, $149
    Putter: Titleist Red X, $285

    This set will improve the way you play because...

    • Movable weights in the r7 HT driver help you find your most consistent ball flight.
    • The F-50 7-wood and MD hybrid club are more fun and easier to get in the air than regular long irons.
    • Four wedges remove the guesswork from 100 yards in. Now you can make full swings on touch shots rather than take awkward half and three-quarter swings.
    • Great feel and a smooth roll with Red X puttter will make three-putts disappear.

    Callaway Big Bertha Fusion 5-iron to PW
    These cavity-backs merge game improvement with game-enhancement. It's a forgiving club, to be sure. Our test team also embraced the lower, controlled trajectory, precise touch and genuine versatility. Fusions are packed with thermoplastic urethane in the cavity to cut down on impact vibration while graphite shafts further dampen shock.

    Cleveland CG10 wedges
    These come in low- and high-bounce options as well. Try the low bounce if you play in firm conditions, or the high bounce in soft conditions.

    TaylorMade r7 HT driver (12º or lower)
    A shallower clubface and deeper center of gravity than the original r7 means you'll hit it higher with added spin. Our testers loved how easy it is to hit, and hit long. Even off-center hits motor on out there.

    Mizuno F-50 4-wood (16.5º) and 7-wood (21º)
    These steel heads have a light graphite crown that redirects weight lower and to the perimeter. The payoff, our testers said, is smooth, easy liftoff. They added that mis-hits are nothing to fear with the F-50.

    Sonartec MD Transition Club Hybrid (23º)
    It's finally time to drop your standard 4-iron. Take an MD (4-iron loft, 2-iron shaft length) and thank us in the morning. Our testers reported that it's much longer than their current 4-iron and much easier to get airborne.

    Titleist Red X Putter
    This classic mallet has more weight high and toward the rear to stabilize the head. Our panelists raved about its responsiveness, the byproduct of a milled stainless steel face surrounded by shock-absorbing elastomer.

    To read more about how we determined the clubs that would comprise your perfect set, click here.

    For instruction tips on how to use your perfect set of clubs, click here.

    The Perfect Set For 20+ handicaps

    Your Game

    • Distance off the tee is a problem; you need more carry to max out your driver.
    • Struggle to reach par 4s in regulation.
    • Have difficult time getting enough lift with long irons. (Hit zero to three greens in regulation.)
    • With a wedge in your hands it takes four to get down as often as it takes two.
    • Bunker shots equal panic.
    • Half-dozen three-putts per round.
    • Swing speed is 65 to 80 mph.

    What Should Be In Your Bag
    High-lofted driver: Ping G2 EZ (15.5º) with graphite shaft, $350
    5-wood TaylorMade: r5 Dual (18º) with graphite shaft, $375
    7-wood: TaylorMade r5 Dual (21º) with graphite shaft, $375
    Hybrid: Cleveland HALO 3i (22º) with graphite shaft, $183
    Hybrid: Cleveland HALO 4i (25º) with graphite shaft, $183
    5-iron to PW: Mizuno MX-23 with graphite shaft, $846
    Gap wedge: Cleveland CG11 (52º), $149
    Sand wedge: MacGregor V-FOIL EZ Out (56º), $110
    Putter: Odyssey White Steel 2-Ball, $215

    The set will improve the way you play because...

    • A driver head with 3-wood loft, such as G2 EZ, gets shots airborne on a useful trajectory so youll hit it farther and straighter.
    • Big-headed r5 Dual 5-wood and 7-wood are forgiving off the turf.
    • Perimeter-weighted MX-23 irons have lots of back weight to get lift. You'll also love the feel at impact.
    • Wide-soled EZ Out sand wedge skims across sand with the greatest of ease.
    • White Steel 2-Ball putter is ultra-stable through impact to better control lag putts.

    Mizuno MX-23 5-iron to PW
    We admit there are meatier game-improvement clubs (which is why you could drop this 5-iron in favor of a third hybrid). But the MX-23 is too good to pass up. Our testers say these irons launch the ball high, feedback is distinct and definite (a rarity in clubs for higher handicappers), and the sole won't dig.

    MacGregor V-FOIL EZ Out SW (56º)
    It's got a big broad sole that glides through the sand to produce easy, high shots.

    Cleveland CG11 Gap wedge (52º)
    The cavity-back design helps you maintain carry distances on mis-hits so you'll stick more greens.

    Ping G2 EZ (15.5º) high-lofted driver
    Our testers hit the Ping G2 EZ driver against their own 3-woods. Results showed that slow swingers (80 mph or less) clearly benefit from the driver's higher loft, increased spin and added forgiveness. (The ball stays in the air longer.) Just be sure you tee up for the high-lofted driver as you would a standard driver. Ping stopped making the EZ--the G5 13.5º replaced it--but you can find EZ at many retail outlets. Other high-lofted drivers to consider are the La Jolla Club 450 cc Titanium High Launch (14º), Nike SasQuatch (Lucky 13º, Sweet 16º) or Tour Edge Houdini (16º). You might keep in mind offset versions of Cleveland's Launcher or Cobra's M/Speed too.

    TaylorMade r5 Dual 5-wood (18º) and 7-wood (21º)
    The fixed weights certainly do their job. Our testers said these titanium woods are flat out easy to hit high and straight, and are terrific on mis-hits.

    Cleveland HALO Hybrids (22º, 25º)
    With hybrids like these, your long-iron struggles are over. HALOs pack some serious pop. You'll be hitting shots you never thought possible with your old long irons.

    Odyssey White Steel 2-Ball putter
    Weight low and to the rear contributes to a consistent and true roll. The two ball alignment aid on top counters any problems with your aim.

    To read more about how we determined the clubs that would comprise your perfect set, click here.

    For instruction tips on how to use your perfect set of clubs, click here.

    The Perfect Set For Seniors & Women

    Your Game

    • Struggle getting shots airborne.
    • Short hitter.
    • Multiple clubs go the same distance.
    • Reach very few greens in regulation.
    • Use graphite shafts only.
    • Swing speed is 70 mph or slower.
    • Likely a senior and/or intermediate female.

    What Should Be In Your Bag
    Adams Idea a2 OS: is a good example of what to look for. ($850 for 12 clubs.)
    Driver: (high-lofted) 13.5º
    3-wood: 16º, 5-wood: 19º
    4 hybrid: iWood 23º, 5 hybrid: iWood 26º, 6 hybrid: 29º, 7 hybrid: 33º
    Hybrid: Cleveland HALO 4i (25º) with graphite shaft, $183
    8-iron: 36º
    9-iron: 40º
    Pitching wedge: 44º
    Sand wedge 55º

    This set will improve the way you play because

    • High-lofted driver gives you more carry.
    • Four easy-to-hit hybrids replace long and mid-irons.
    • Shaft lengths in irons come in 3/4-inch increments. (Most sets have 1/2-inch differences between clubs.) This is to make sure you hit your clubs to different yardages. Other companies achieve this by building sets with larger loft gaps than standard 3-or 4-degree increments.
    • Lightweight, flexible graphite shafts are easy to swing.
    • This makeup has 12 clubs instead of 14 so you can learn to hit fewer clubs better.

    Hybrids
    These four sticks replace your 4- through 7-irons. The offset heads have more weight farther from the face, which contributes to higher-spinning shots. That's a good thing for you because added spin lifts the ball and keeps it airborne longer with slower swings.

    8-iron and 9-iron
    There's no rule that states you must use standard mid-irons. Thinking outside the norm makes sense for your game. The longest iron here, a hollow 8-iron, provides ample forgiveness.

    PW (44º) and SW (55º)
    We recommend you master two wedges instead of three. But if 11-degrees difference (44º to 55º) leaves a gaping distance hole then add a gap wedge (50º).

    Driver (13.5º)
    A 460 cc titanium head with 3-wood loft gives you the best chance to achieve greater lift, carry and control.

    3-wood (16º) and 5-wood (19º)
    Hitting solid fairway woods is tough to do. But low-profile ones with wide hitting areas make your task easier.

    Putter
    A forgiving mallet tops off the 12-piece set. A portion of sales from the set goes to breast cancer research.

    To read more about how we determined the clubs that would comprise your perfect set, click here.

    For instruction tips on how to use your perfect set of clubs, click here.

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