Every golfer knows that the clubs in the bag are just as important as the technique of the swing. Without the right clubs, even the best golfer will not perform as well as he or she should. The problem for amateurs is that there are so many choices. Therefore, it pays to do plenty of homework, including reading reviews, before purchasing that next set of clubs.
There were many good entries for 2014. We have scoured countless reviews to bring you what we believe are the best sets – including drivers, fairway woods, irons, hybrids, wedges, and putters. We hope you will find this information valuable if you are planning to buy a new set or add to your bag in the coming months.
Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 815 Driver
Callaway’s impressive Big Bertha Alpha 815 driver is a tour class driver with an interesting twist: its Gravity Core technology allows the golfer to choose either a high or a low centre of gravity. The low centre of gravity produces more spin, according to Callaway manager of performance Evan Gibbs.
Golf MRX contributor Zak Kozuchowski says the large profile makes it a more forgiving driver than its predecessor. In addition, long distances and accuracy are the terms most associated with this driver. It is one of the top rated models on tour because it helps players keep their shots online more easily.
If there were any complaints about this driver, they would start with trajectory. You may experience less than you hoped for unless you adjust your ball placement accordingly. If you are the kind of golf player that does not require a lot of club adjustment, you might also find that the Alpha 815 offers more than you need or want to pay for.
Ping G25 Driver
The G25 driver from Ping represents the sixth generation of this club. What was new for 2014? This edition is the first in the line to be adjustable – the loft can be tweaked by a half-degree in either direction. The G25 also offers a larger face compared to the G20 and the lowest centre of gravity among all Ping drivers.
The editors at Golf Digest rate this driver 4.5 stars out of five. It is intended to be a game improvement driver rather than a tour class club, so the price is a bit more affordable. Players are sure to love the club’s high balance point shaft that more than makes up for the heavier head.
The G25 is one of the highest rated drivers of the 2014 class. However, this may not be a good option for you if you like that ‘crushed it’ feeling off the tee. You will still hit great shots, but it might not necessarily feel that way.
Callaway X2 Hot Driver
We decided to include a second Callaway driver in our reviews because the X2 is one of the best in the max game improvement category. Anyone struggling off the tee should seriously consider switching to this oversized beast. If you cannot improve your tee shots with the X2, you might not be able to improve them at all.
Golf Digest gives the X2 4.5 stars for performance and innovation. The club was designed to have a lower weight in favour of a larger club face with a more generous sweet spot. Even the most confidence-challenged hitters will feel better as they see their tee shots heading straight down the fairway. Faster ball speeds add to the longer distance as most balls continue rolling after impact.
Most importantly, the X2 is incredibly repeatable. Once the golfer develops a consistent stroke, his or her results will remain consistent, even with an occasional mishit. The one downside here is learning to hit the X2 comfortably and then trying to graduate to a less forgiving driver. However, that is part of the game.
Cobra Bio Cell Fairway Woods
Golf Digest gives the Cobra Bio Cell Fairway woods a five-star rating for performance. That says something. These adjustable fairway woods offer eight different settings spanning three full degrees of loft for the perfect shot every time. For those prone to slicing, these fairway woods may make those shots a thing of the past.
A flexible face insert increases ball speed while a lower weight makes for easier launch. About the only negatives we have found with these woods are the less-than-attractive sound and the tendency to draw for players who swing harder than they should in the fairway. That said, Cobra’s Bio Cell fairway woods are an affordable and usable choice for serious golfers with a relaxed swing.
Adams Tight Lies Fairway Woods
Adams has decided to revive its Tight Lies fairway woods that were so popular in the 1990s. According to Adams’ director of global product marketing Mike Fox, the company made its decision to relaunch the line after realising today’s players are unable to hit fairway woods well enough. The Tight Lies woods are designed to be easy to use and confidence inspiring.
Golf Week says the new clubs have a lower profile and a smaller head than most other fairway woods. Adams insists the design makes the clubs easy to use both in the fairway and in the rough. If the testers are to be believed, it is very easy to shape your shots regardless of your lie. The clubs are fairly forgiving with a penetrating ball flight and decent feedback. The downsides include a lower-than-expected trajectory and less forgiveness on toed shots.
Callaway Apex Irons
If money is no object, it is hard to do better for your irons than the Callaway Apex line. The 2014 edition is given a five-star rating not only by Golf Digest, but also by testers and reviewers throughout the world of golf. Although classified as game improvement irons, their performance and easy-to-hit characteristics make them a favourite even among players who are already good iron hitters.
The midrange clubs are easy to aim, offering a lot of flexibility for fades and draws. Higher irons offer plenty of loft and an easily controlled spin for those tight approaches. As for distance, they are near the top of the class. We have read some reviews in which testers claim to have gained at least half a club over their normal irons.
The one downside to the Apex irons is their lack of forgiveness. This may seem contrary, given that the clubs are classified as game improvement irons, but swinging these clubs will immediately let you understand what is going on here. The clubs are so easy to swing that you do not need a lot of forgiveness with some practice. That is why they are the top rated irons of the 2014 class.
Titleist AP2 714 Irons
Titleist does not tend to get a lot of press for their irons, and that’s a shame. Their AP2 714 irons for 2014 are definitely near the top of the game. They are intended for better players who already enjoy a fair amount of distance yet want to work on accuracy and control. You will definitely spend a bit more for these clubs, but they should be well worth it as a long-term investment in your game.
Titleist uses tungsten inserts in the toe and heel to increase launch and flight stability. They offer gold steel, steel, and graphite shafts depending on your personal preferences. A thicker face on the short irons improves ball flight on those tricky approach shots, though you still need some measure of control.
Testers appreciate the AP2 714s due to their generous sweet spot and moderate forgiveness. However, Golf.com says some testers find they are not as hot at contact as they would prefer. Distance is also compromised for shots hit off-centre.
Wilson Staff D100 ES Irons
Players who really need help with their irons might consider investing in the Wilson Staff D100 ES set. The clubs come in both graphite and steel shaft options, depending on your strength and playing style. The ‘D’ stands for ‘distance'; Golf Week’s James Achenbach says they are some of the longest irons of the 2014 season. You can purchase a set of straight irons or get a combination set of both irons and hybrids. A mixed set utilises hybrids for the midrange 5-7 irons.
These clubs are primarily designed for those who swing slowly. They offer oversized heads providing more loft in the absence of raw power. They also offer consistent performance for consistent swingers. Some testers say their strength is the consistent performance out of the rough. Unfortunately, fast swingers lose that consistency pretty rapidly. These are not a good choice for younger players looking to increase swing speed over time. They are a good choice for older golfers who know they are slowing down.
Adams Pro DHy Hybrids
Have you tried hybrids yet, or are you still using old-style fairway woods and traditional irons? Those thinking of making the switch should consider the Pro DHy hybrids from Adams. These hybrids offer a feel that is more like a traditional iron yet with the higher ball speed and greater distance one would expect from a hybrid. Some testers have said the clubs are not as forgiving as expected, lending to their reputation as being more like traditional irons.
Adams designed these clubs to be unique in their presentation. At first glance, they look like neither a hybrid nor a true iron. Nevertheless, it is the swing that really makes the difference. Hit the sweet spot and you will get a consistent shot every time. You will even be forgiven for shots struck low on the club face. Nonetheless, get too far outside the club centre and your hands and ears will tell you all about it, according to Plugged In Golf’s review.
Bobby Jones Black Hybrids
Golfers willing to spend a little money to improve their fairway game might want to consider the new Black hybrids from Bobby Jones, designed by the legendary Jesse Ortiz. As a long-time Bobby Jones designer, Ortiz is known to focus his designs on helping amateurs get better at the game. His Black hybrids live up to that reputation.
The rounded profile of these hybrids immediately sets them apart from other hybrid sets in this class. Graphite shafts give maximum flexibility and strength without extra weight, while the steel alloy head is great for both velocity and control. What impresses many golfers is how easily these clubs move through the rough.
- says that Black hybrids are at the top end of the distance category despite a lofty launch. Their testers say the clubs are a good choice for players looking to correct a slice; they are not so good for players who tend to draw.
Wilson Staff FG Tour M3 Hybrids
According to Plugged In Golf, the FG Tour M3 hybrids from Wilson Staff look and feel every bit the modern hybrid. However, perhaps the most important thing about these hybrids is that they were designed by former Adams designer Michael Vrska. Anyone who has used a Vrska set knows how good these are.
At first glance, the relatively small profile and black matte finish make the M3 hybrids one of the more distinct looking clubs in golf. Nevertheless, it gets better ‘under the hood’. The secret to the M3’s success is Wilson’s Multi-Fit system that allows players to adjust weight, loft, and face angle. No other hybrid give you this much set-up flexibility.
The strength of the M3 hybrids is their accuracy and forgiveness. Unless your swing is completely off-line, nearly every shot will carry straight enough to land where you intended it to go. The consistency offered by these clubs helps struggling golfers improve their fairway play along with their understanding of shot set-up. Their main downside is their lack of extra distance. These are middle of the road hybrids meant more for accuracy than length.
Cleveland Golf 588 RTX Wedges
We have not yet mentioned Cleveland Golf in our reviews. However, that’s about to change, thanks to their innovative 588 RTX wedges introduced for the 2014 year. These clubs are being marketed as the latest in design innovation for good reason. Everyone from Golf Digest to Golf WRX is singing the praises of these wedges.
What, exactly, is so innovative about the 588 RTX set? The Rotex groove and face design. Cleveland has opted for a rougher, milled face that increases spin on the wedge shots. For 2014, they elected to use a wider groove to make their wedges more playable out of the rough or in the sand. Moreover, by milling the grooves, Cleveland has made the clubs more durable under a wide variety of conditions.
Where playability is concerned, these wedges are very controllable. The player who understands wedge shots should be able to make them work fairly well in any scenario. They provide a solid yet soft feel at impact with enough feedback to tell you when you have missed severely. However, this is also the biggest drawback of the 588 RTX. The feel of these clubs does not allow for a lot of game improvement because the feedback is not sensitive enough with small mistakes.
Cobra Tour Trusty Wedges
The first thing you notice about the Tour Trusty wedges from Cobra is the retro look. Where most other wedge sets are designed to look high-tech, Cobra chose to design these clubs to look like classic wedges of days gone by. It is a refreshingly simple design that is not intimidating by any stretch of the imagination.
Testers from Canadian Golf Magazine had many good things to say about Tour Trusty performance. For example, they mentioned that these wedges provide more consistent spin rates in a variety of lies. The consistent spin gave them more confidence to attack their shots rather than playing conservatively, as one would with a new club.
Cobra has achieved this consistent spin rate with a notched ‘K-grind’ sole and tight dispersion pattern. The design offers fairly consistent control on longer shots; maximum control is observed out of the sand or from the fringe. The oversized head does diminish control somewhat on shots requiring an open head face.
TaylorMade Tour Preferred Wedges
The Tour Preferred wedges from TaylorMade appear to be a mixed bag. Golf Digest rates them at just 4 stars for performance and 4.5 stars for innovation. Yet among reviewers, there seems to be a recurring theme: these wedges are rated very well despite some minor flaws that could give some less experienced players real trouble.
TaylorMade offers both a classic sole grind and an ATV grind on a stainless steel head. The different grinds may be where all the differences of opinion come in. The right choice should result in wedges that are consistent in performance and control from anywhere on the course. Some reviewers say these are the most versatile wedges of the 2014 model year.
On the downside, the Tour Preferred wedges do not produce as high a spin rate as some competitors. They also tend to be a bit softer on impact, limiting helpful feedback that would improve game performance. Lastly, height can be an issue if shots are not set up properly. These wedges might not be the best option for golfers still learning the approach game.
Nike Method MOD 90 Putter
Mallet putters are all the rage in today’s game. Nevertheless, for those who still prefer the old-fashioned blade putter, the Nike Method MOD 90 is one worth trying. But beware; testers at Golf Magic say there is no in between with the MOD 90. You either love it or hate it.
Nike’s eye-catching design is that which draws many people to pick up this putter in the pro shop. Its long, arched blade features red inserts at the toe and heel for a sleek look that fits very well with the modern era. This is a centre shaft putter, so you will need a smooth stroke to achieve consistent impact.
The centre groove pattern provides very good control, while the arched blade helps to reduce scuffing. The ball also seems to jump off the blade with very little effort, making those longer pops more within reach. The biggest complaint attached to the MOD 90 is its instability. If you do not have a smooth and consistent stroke, you may find this putter troublesome.
Bettinardi BB32 Putter
Bettinardi is not known in the golf world for complete golf sets to fill your bag. However, they are one of the more respected names in putters. What sets this company apart is their philosophy of using solid blocks of steel to create their putters through a tightly controlled milling process employing very small tolerances. Their BB32 putter is an example of their precision work.
Golf WRX grades the BB32 at 4.5 stars. They say it is the best in the BB line, thanks to a design that allows for a longer sight line and easier aiming. A unique bumper design allows for a smaller mallet without compromising control, making the putter exceptionally stable.
If you have never used a mallet putter before, you should know that the BB32 is heavier than others in its class. Nonetheless, you should be able to manage the extra weight with a little bit of practice. The downside here is that Bettinardi only manufactures their putters at 353g. If you are not satisfied with the weight, there are no other options in the BB32.
We have given you many different options in our rather lengthy review of the best clubs for 2014. As you shop around, the best bit of advice anyone could give is that you have clubs fitted to you at the time of purchase. Even the least expensive clubs will perform better if they are properly fitted for shaft length, flexibility, and grip.
Also keep in mind that clubs alone will not likely help you improve your game overnight. Mastering the game of golf requires spending plenty of time at the driving range, on the putting green, and out on the links. The best part is that there is always room for improvement.