OK, I play badly, but this is always another opportunity to buy cool hardware. Tried a bunch but here are's reviews for people who need improvement (I love how they change the terms beginner, intermediate and advanced to max game improvement, game improvement and better player, what marketing!). As an aside, right now the pro golf warehouse in Seattle is having a 20% off of the last marked price on everything. Won't last and doesn't help if you are in
So what to get for the game improvement/intermediate folks. BTW, graphite is lighter and so you swing faster but more expensive:
This is one reason why you so the majority of golfers have both steel and graphite shafted clubs in their bag. Greater than 90% of all drivers have graphite shafts in them. This is because the driver is designed for maximum distance and is much larger and easier-to-hit than they were just a few years ago. For fairway woods, more than 80% are equipped with graphite shafts as players tend to match the driver with the same type of shaft. Golfers, who tend to hit the ball a long way and/or need more control, may find steel to their liking. There are a number of lightweight steel shafts available as an alternative to graphite.

Irons and wedges are usually just the opposite in the shaft material choice. Approximately 75% of irons sold today are sold with steel shafts. The primary reason for choosing steel may be an economic factor as the irons and wedges make up a great percentage of the clubs in the bag. The other reason why golfers choose steel in their irons and wedges is for control rather than increasing distance, especially among stronger individuals. However, there are a number of quality graphite iron shafts that come in all different weights and stiffness to match nearly every golfer.

Hybrids are in between fairways and irons. They can be either depending on their loft (angle to the ball) according to

Here were some clubs reviewed in the game improvement category (correlated with Golfwrx and other sources):

  • Adams Idea Pro Black CB2 Among the top-rated irons. Best in class for feel, high marks for looks. $800 steel, $1000 graphite. Never heard of Adams as they do mainly hybrids. $680 including a Hybrid driver at, $850 for graphite. GolfWRX agrees. These are forged irons btw.
  • Callaway RAZR XDependable performers. Does its best work in terms of accuracy/forgiveness and distance. $700 Steel, $900 Graphite. (GolfWRX likes this quite a bit). $700 at
  • Cleveland CG16. Forgiving, powerful, lightweight club is a good fit for mid-handicappers with more moderate clubhead speeds. $700 Steel. $800 Graphite. $600 at
  • Cobra S3Playable combo set offers above-average accuracy and forgiveness. $600 steel, $700 graphite. (Cobra S3 Max are even more forgiving for beginners $600 graphite, THP liked them). Golfwrx likes this this S3 Forged variant. (And thought that the TMag MB as similar). $440 at, $510 for graphite!
  • Mizuno JPX-800($700 Steel, $900 Graphite) One of the highest-rated irons in the test. Provides plenty of distance, feel and control with a classic look. (Golfwrx, oobgolf (8.6/10) and both like the more pro-level MP-53). $800 from
  • Nike Victory Red Pro CavityDelivers a reliable blend of accuracy and distance control but doesn’t stand out in any category.(THP thinks they are good too). $600 from, $680 graphite.
  • Ping G15One of the top models tested. It exhibits excellent accuracy/forgiveness qualities and is so easy to hit. $700 steel, $900 graphite.  (GolfWRX really like the advanced Ping S56 from GolfWRX, THP calls them solid and predictable). $600 from
  • Ping G20. Just announced this summer. Same geometry as the G15 but tuning gets you 5 more yards per hit and is more forgiving. $780 steel, $1K graphite. They are softer hitting and better than the G15.
  • Srixon Z-Star Among the top performers in the test. High marks for playability and looks.. $900 steel, $1000 graphite. The steel shaft. Hard to find.
  • TaylorMade Burner 2.0Relatively easy to hit and hit high; great stopping power on short and mid-irons; one of the more forgiving clubs tested. Graphite might be too light. $700 steel, $900 graphite. (GolfWRX has this as top rated). $600 at sale.
  • Titleist AP1Solid performer across all categories. A game-improvement iron for players who prefer a more traditional profile. $700 at
  • Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4Deep, perimeter-weighted cavity delivers above-average forgiveness; heel-bias weighting plus ample offset make it nearly impossible to slice. $580 at, $680 graphite.

This leaves you with the words top rated:

  • Adams Idea Black CB2. They are $600 from Amazon and $635 from including 15% storewide and 10% off if a member plus right now with a free Hybrid driver too from Adams Idea Tech V3 (a $200 list value). The graphite is $765. They also have a used set of steel at $510 (wow) and graphites at $640. They are $650 at Golfsmith (but without the hybrid offer) but they are in Portland 🙂 $850 from for graphite (you get a free hybrid from at the same price). They are really nice clubs, but are probably for better golfers.
  • Mizuno JPX-800. $700 from, $700 from Gamesmith. $900 graphite from either. They don't appear to allow discounting. But the local pro golf has it for 20% less. Probably the best of the improvements. $538 "very good" used clubs. From Pro Discount Golf would be $700*.8 for new or $560. I hit these are they are indeed amazing.
  • Ping G15 (and maybe the G20s but they are new and expensive). $600 for steel from so a little cheaper  and $800 for graphite because the G20 has arrived and the same at
  • Srixon Z-Star. Hard to find. Not at TGW nor Gamesmith

For hybrids which are really replacements for long irons and fairway wood. For intermediates, get 3/4 iron replacement. I got the 3 iron replacement as the Mizuno comes with a 4 iron already.

  • Adams Idea Tech V3One of the most-preferred hybrids; excellent long-iron replacements that can work for golfers of all abilities. $200
  • Callaway RAZR XGood, dependable, all-around set; forte is hitting straight shots. 
  • Cleveland Mashie Solid, reliable sticks are easy to hit and pack plenty of forgiveness in a compact head.
  • Mizuno JPX-800 The club's consistency and stability are among its greatest assets; bona fide long-iron replacements that get the ball up quickly.
  • Ping K15High marks for feel, distance and accuracy/forgiveness. $250 at, no discounts.
  • TaylorMade RescueThis all-purpose hybrid covers you from tee to rough; the adjustability feature allows you to make subtle yet noticeable changes in ball flight and direction; these are long hitters.
  • Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4Among the top performers in its class; excels in feel and distance.
  • Wilson Staff DXi Solid, workmanlike hybrids that are easy to swing, hit it high and offer ample forgiveness.

Amongst these the best are

  • Adams Idea Tech V3. $200 street from with 15% (so $170) and 10% for club so $143! Yes they are terrific. Got a 3 Wood for $200*.8=$160, so a little more than from, but at least they are i the bag 🙂
  • Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4. $149 from and no discounts

For woods, 

  • Adams Speedline F11. One of the top models tested; a category leader for distance. Some testers find the cutout on top to be visually distracting and hard to get used to; high launch and flight could lead to potential problems on windy days.
  • Callaway Diablo Octane. One of the top-rated fairway woods; best in class for accuracy/forgiveness. Slight draw tendency doesn't agree with all testers all the time; low, single-digit handicappers might opt for more versatility.
  • Cleveland Launcher FL. These lightweight woods are easy to swing, easy to launch and easy to look at. Extra-light shaft may be too light for faster, more aggressive swingers; overall lightness could make it a difficult companion for a standard-weight driver.
  • Cobra S3. Versatility is this club's strong suit; easy to launch from a variety of lies. A few testers seek more overall distance; impact feel can be too dull or muted.
  • Ping K15.  High marks for feel, distance and accuracy/forgiveness. Difficult to keep ball flight down; lacks workability and can be punishing to someone who already draws the ball.
  • Srixon Z-Star. Among the best woods in its class; the Z-Star excels in playability, accuracy/forgiveness and feel. Not a world-beater in terms of distance; a few testers find the clubhead gets caught up in rough fairly easily.
  • TaylorMade R11. Adjustable head is well-suited to most swing types; strong in terms of accuracy/forgiveness and playability. Acceptable length but it doesn't blow you away; some testers prefer a "hotter" feel. $229 street at
  • Titleist 910F. Attractive sticks loaded with technology; good cosmetics, acoustics and feel. Despite its adjustability feature, a few higher handicappers find some others easier to hit consistently; a handful of guys prefer more "game-improvement" help.
  • Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4. Among the most preferred woods tested; a standout in terms of distance and feel. Low-profile head can slide under ball from fluffy lies in rough; a few testers find that left-to-right misses don't get a lot of help.
The best rated look like
  • Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4. $200 from, plus no discounts
  • Srixon Z-Star. Not easy to find.
  • Adams Speedline F11. $149 from plus 15% off storewide and 10% off for members, so only $111.
  • Callaway Diablo Octane. $149 from without discount.

For drivers, this is the second most important club after the putters and wedges for us high handicappers because you are typically using one every time....

  • Adams Speedline F11Dependable in all areas but doesn't stand out in any one category. $300.
  • Callaway Razr HawkAmong the top-rated models in the test. RAZR Hawk packs a big punch.
  • Cleveland Launcher Ultralite SL 290Extremely light driver that's best for smooth-tempo swingers.
  • Cobra S3Top tier for forgiveness, delivering reliable distance on off-center hits.
  • Nike SQ Machspeed Black RoundEasy-to-swing club suits a broad range of handicaps. Definite improvement over previous Machspeed driver.
  • Ping G15One of the top drivers tested; produces a steady pattern of consistent results. $300
  • Srixon Z-StarUnassuming driver quietly goes about its business and, for the most part, performs pretty well.
  • TaylorMade R11Eye-catching, 440cc white head is one of the top-rated drivers. Excellent adjustability features contribute to straighter, longer drives.
  • Titleist 910D2One of the top drivers tested, highly rated in all categories. Titleist's best driver to date for the masses.
  • Tour Edge Exotics XCG-4This lightweight club isn't a world-beater distance-wise but delivers respectable control.

Amongst these the top choices look like:

  • Callaway Razr Hawk. $500 list, $400 no discounts
  • Ping G15. $250 from, no discounts
  • TaylorMade R11. $400 from, not clear if 10% discount applies. $500 list. At Pro Discount Golf, they are 20% off right now at the Aurora store so $320 which is a terrific deal BTW.
  • Titleist 910D2. $400 from, no discounts.

For putters, the big question is blade (for pro's) vs. mallet (for folks who need more forgiveness). And then there are high moment of inertia mallets which resist twisting for off center impact. Face balanced putters are more forgiving for off center contacts. Most folks are getting shorter from the standard 35" to 32-34". T
So here is a list of high MOI mallet putters:

  • Nike Everclear E-33The big, light head is best for even-tempo putting strokes with smooth acceleration.
  • Odyssey White Ice DartOne of the top-rated putters; its touch and forgiveness make it suitable for everyone.
  • Ping Scottsdale Wolverine Among the best models tested; it's a very good redo of the Craz-E.
  • SeeMore SB2 Black One of the most-preferred putters; strong alignment feature helps anyone who struggles with setup and aim.
  • Titleist Studio Select Kombi-S One of the top models in its class; best in show for feel - it'll elevate your putting skill level through lots of feedback.
  • Tour Edge Backdraft GT+ OS-3It works quite well for many testers but doesn't look or feel great; the oversize grip has its supporters.
  • Wilson Staff VizorThis putter is all about function, not form - the see-through crown alignment device helps testers to achieve a better setup.
  • Yes Jennifer Simple-looking package delivers a smooth, true roll and repeatable performance.

So the top model here appear to be:

  • Odyssey White Ice Dart. Wow tried this one, boy was it accurate. $200 from pro discount warehouse with 20% off right now ($160), $180 from, no discounts. Got to try this one, wow, it is super nice and accurate.
  • Ping Scottsdale Wolverine. $159 from, no discounts
  • SeeMore SB2 Black. $249
  • Titleist Studio Select Kombi-S. $299 from

Finally the all important wedges. Of which there an incredible variety of angles as Golfsmith explains. Pitching wedges are 46-48 degrees, sand wedges 54-58 degrees. An approach wedge is in between these. You really want a selection that varies by 4-5 degrees. Then there is bounce which is the angle from the sole (bottom of the club) against the ground, this depends on where you are playing. Lots of lush grass needs a higher bounce to get the ball into the air.

  • Adams WatsonWell liked by most testers; straightforward design that provides solid, predictable results from all types of lies.
  • Bobby Jones PelzSeveral well-conceived technologies generate useful short-game performance.
  • Callaway X Series JAWS CCOne of the few forged models in the test provides plenty of spin and a pleasing feel.
  • Cleveland CG16 Delivers the all-around performance associated with Cleveland wedges and a healthy dose of spin.
  • Fourteen MT-28 V5 T.S.Soft- feeling, attractive club for better players who want to manufacture shots.
  • Mizuno MP T-11 One of the top models; classic look and feel; overall spin is a real asset.
  • Nike VR Pro. Among the most preferred wedges tested; traditional, attractive club provides very good all-around performance.
  • Ping Tour-s MystiqueOne of the top-rated clubs; soft feel and plenty of versatility suit a variety of players.
  • TaylorMade TP with xFT.
  • Titleist Vokey Spin Milled C-C. One of the highest-rated models in the test; tremendous playability, outstanding feel and classic look.
  • Wilson Staff FG. Reliable, no-frills clubs from the brand that helped pioneer the sand wedge.

Here's a list of the top wedges...

  • Adams Watson
  • Mizuno MP T-11. $120 from
  • Nike VR Pro
  • Ping Tour's Mystique
  • Titleist Vokey Spin MIlled C-C

Second question is what set of clubs to get.  Golfspyder has some recommendations that make sense:

  • For beginners, Recommended set configuration - 12 degree Driver, 5/7 wood, 4/5 Hybrids, Super Game Improvement Irons 6-9, pitching wedge, sand wedge, and high MOI mallet putter.
  • For intermediates, 10-12 degree Driver, 3/5 wood, 3/4 hybrids, Game Improvement Irons 5-9, pitching wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, and high MOI mallet putter.
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