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Clubbing Up: Beginners Should Consider Boxed Sets

Dec. 10, 2009     By     Comments (14)

The boxed set may be the perfect way to get into the game of golf - yet it's overlooked by nearly everyone.

Bag DropThe golf equipment section of the forum gets lots of posts from beginners on whether they should buy cavity-backed clubs or blades for their starter sets. Or, what kind of driver works best for newbies?

In the responses, hard-core golfers compare the benefits of Titleist AP2 vs. Mizuno MP-57 irons to people who don't know the difference between a 5-iron and a pitching wedge. This often ends up with suggested club mixes that could easily cost $1,500 if bought new.

"My gosh," says the beginner. "What should I get? Will I ever make it to the golf course?"

What's in the Box?

Occasionally veteran golfers suggest that beginners get boxed sets - irons, woods, a putter and a bag - as a way to get started in the game. I followed up this idea with the golfing community in the greater St. Louis area. They suggest lots of good reasons for beginners to buy the box and start swinging.

Andy Robinson, a four handicapper and sales rep at The Golf Centre in Fairview Heights, IL, sells lots of boxed sets. Lower-end ones go for $200 to $300. "It'll get you started, and then you'll have to upgrade later if you really like the game," says Andy.

His lower-end models at the Fairview Heights, Ill., shop include the Wilson Anti-Slice (men) and Hope (women). The TopFlite XL5000 is popular with men. In the $500 range, the Adams Tight Lies for men and the Tour Edge Moda for women sell well.

Steve Anderson, sales manager across the highway at Golf Galaxy, says the boxed sets are ideal for the weekend golfer and the beginner. "You can get everything you need for $200 on up," says the 12 handicapper.

Two of his biggest boxed sellers for men are the Slazenger Wrath and the Maxfli Black Max sets. Steve finds that for women - who buy about 70 percent of the boxed sets he sells - the Adams Idea S30S and Square 2 Bliss and Callaway Solaire are popular models.

Moving into the Golf Zone

An Adams Pro Launch Platinum boxed set provided the pathway into regular golf for Jim Brasfield, a management professor at Webster University. Jim had been a "less than occasional" golfer for many years, playing a few times a decade with borrowed clubs.

A longtime tennis player, Jim switched to golf last year following a leg injury. Jim discovered boxed sets while taking golf lessons.

"I was taking lessons from the pro at Golf Galaxy, and asked him to help me select clubs. He had me get the feel of several different sets of clubs in our practice sessions at their virtual range. This was a good set but not excessively expensive. And since I am 6-foot-1 he fitted them for me, and we added another inch or so to the shaft," said Jim.

The clubs are working fine, with the exception of the hybrids.
"In retrospect I wish I had gotten something different than the hybrid irons (4, 5, 6). The shape of the club head and the angle of the shaft results in my frequently not hitting the ball square and as a result either topping the ball or hitting a bad slice. My 7, 8, 9 are more traditional irons and I have had less trouble with them," he said.

Skill Level Issues

PGA-certified teaching pro Sabrina Tate sees lots of beginners using boxed sets at the famous Tower Tee golf range in the St. Louis suburb of Marlborough. She finds that about nine out of 10 beginners use boxed sets. And, men are just as likely as women to use them; they're popular with children too.

"It's mainly because of the price," notes Sabrina. Also, basic clubs work well with a beginner's rapidly changing swing. "They aren't ready to be fitted because they don't really have a swing to fit."

Besides her teaching at Tower Tee, Sabrina has several years experience coaching the Cor Jesu High School women's golf team, plus competition experience in the LPGA Sectionals. She says players upgrade from the boxed sets based upon skill level, not how long they have had them. "After they develop an average skill level - in one to four years - they upgrade to brand name."

Benefits of Boxed

So, from talks with Andy, Steve, Jim, and Sabrina, these appear to be the benefits of boxed sets:

Cost of Entry
The boxed sets allow you to start playing for $200 to $400. Buying new name brand Callaway irons and Titleist woods could run you close to $2,000. Some people try to buy used clubs, but this adds up. A $70 used driver, a $40 fairway wood, and $150 for irons 10 years old… get'em regripped, add in a wedge or two… find a bag… suddenly, it costs quite a bit more for used equipment than for a box of new, matching clubs.

Simplicity
You don't have to be an expert in golf to get your first set. Andy says that to match irons, woods, and hybrids from different companies and club models requires familiarity with golf. The boxed clubs come with common design themes and fit together well. Women buy a majority of the boxed sets which Steve sells.

Helpfulness
The clubs are generally designed as Super Game Improvement clubs or better. The clubheads and shafts work together to help beginners get the ball up in the air, and to keep it fairly straight if you swing halfway-decent. The clubs which the 8 handicappers play would be pure pain for beginners.

Customer Participation
"As long as you watch for a few things, you'll get a decent set of clubs," Steve added. These things include:

  • Drivers with titanium heads - or at least a titanium face.
  • Irons with stainless steel heads for durability, and thicker soles to help get the ball up.
  • For seniors and women, graphite shafts on all clubs.
  • A bag that's reasonably sturdy.

Boxed Not Best for All

Both Andy and Steve caution that boxed set might not work for someone who plans to do heavy golfing from the start. Lower-cost sets are designed for someone who will play occasionally, and clubs and bag could wear out quickly if you play golf twice a week.

Also, Andy says that boxed sets don't always fit tall men or petite women. Steve noted that boxed clubs can be adjusted somewhat to fit players for maybe $50 to $70. Also, some higher end boxed sets can be custom ordered to fit the player.

Finally, Steve notes that men are more brand-conscious than women. "Some guys would rather have a used set of Callaways or Pings in the bag than new boxed clubs," he said.

Give It a Try!

So, if you're a beginner who wants to get started playing, go hit some clubs from the boxed sets. It gives you low-cost entry into golf. If you really like the sport you can always upgrade. Or, if you only play a couple of times a month, they might suit you for several years.

Combine the boxed set clubs with some early lessons, and you're on your way to a fun sport which you can play for a long time.

This article was written by John P. Orr (or WUTiger in the forum). If you'd like to write a guest article, send us an email.

Posted in: Bag Drop Comments (14)

Discussion

  1. Andrea says:

    I've started with a boxed set ordered from TGW for 180 $. Since I bought I was golfing "heavily" playing about 2/3 times a week. The clubs worked well for me even though my bag broke 6 months after I bought the set.
    I now own much better clubs and can see a huge difference but I believe boxed sets are a great choice for most beginner and weekend golfers. I didn't switch to better clubs until my handicap went down to 13 but I think my case is a little on the extreme side.

  2. Definitely the way to start out. It's the way I started and the best way, IMO.

  3. JDogg says:

    In my opinion, a beginner would be much better served by either buying a discontinued pro line set of clubs, or a set of well cared for used clubs. You may not have the lates from 2010, but will be well equipped for years with quality shafts and gear that is just as good as today's top end without the price we club ho's pay to own the latest thing.

  4. Chris says:

    I am trying to get my soon-to-be-wife into golf more. She has played with my Mom's clubs a couple of times, and she really likes it. So, I want to get her an intro box set somewhere.

    But here is my issue, she is only 5 feet tall. I know a boxed set is the way to go to start, but I want to make sure whatever I get her can be properly sized. She is not consistent enough to warrant a lie adjustment, but I do believe it would be very beneficial to be sized. Would a retailer take off a half or full inch off a shaft of a boxed set?

  5. Luke says:

    I started 2 years ago, and opted for a set of Ram Concept 3g clubs, and I must say I agree entirely with the points above. As a beginner they served me very well and were of a standard where I could play with them for some time, until I progressed to a more reasonable level...

    I could have bought some used clubs, but as the article mentions, I wouldn't have known what to buy, and my swing changed so much during that first set!

  6. John says:

    I am trying to get my soon-to-be-wife into golf more. ...
    But here is my issue, she is only 5 feet tall. I know a boxed set is the way to go to start, but I want to make sure whatever I get her can be properly sized. ... She is not consistent enough to warrant a lie adjustment, but I do believe it would be very beneficial to be sized. Would a retailer take off a half or full inch off a shaft of a boxed set?

    Manufacturers not only make petite women's clothes, and golf clubs too for women less than 5-foot-2 in height. My wife got one of the early Square 2 Petite sets back in 1989 or so - Nancy Lopez promoted the line, and Adams has picked it up recently.

    Basically the petites start about an inch shorter in shaft than standard women's clubs. Several major club makers have petite sets now, such as Wilson Pro Staff Women's Petite and Mizuno Sora.

    Check out this web site called All About Women's Golf Clubs. This link has a checklist for Petite clubs:
    http://www.all-about-lady-golf-clubs.com/lady-golf-club-petite.html

  7. Keith says:

    The golf sales guy recommended I get the boxed set two years ago when I started. He was right, they served me well to introduce me to the game and see how committed I would be. Well that was two years and probably 5 sets of golf glubs later. Guess I am committed, albeit never satisfied.

  8. Chris says:

    @John - You just made my day! Thanks very much for the help! I am definitely going to check that out.

  9. Snowman0157 says:

    Agree! Boxed Sets are a good way to get into the game. Bought my first set at WoolCo (KMart type store) back in the 70's. Played with them for ~2yrs and broke 90 with them before going "pro-line". Expensive clubs are not going to help a beginner. Fitting is important, but unless you are very tall/short, have very long/short arms or something like that, I'd say play a year or so and make sure you want to go to that level and expense.

  10. Mike Little says:

    I agree, I started off with the Walter Hagen box set and it did everything I need it to do and more. I was very impressed with the Irons but not impressed with the hybrids. I started heavy golfing and upgraded to the Big Bertha Irons (still appropriate for a high handicap as myself) and a stiffer driver in the Tour Burner.

  11. Dee Man says:

    Great article. I've often thought if my clubs I have now ever got stolen or lost on a flight or something I would go this route and get a box set and just go play golf. The golf course on Fort Gordon where I work sells Founders Club and Wilson box sets. They use some of the Founders Club sets as their rental clubs. I went out to the driving range one day at lunch to hit some balls. I did not bring my clubs with me that day, so I borrowed a set of the Founders Clubs. I was really impressed. I hit the ball as good with those as with my Adams irons. The driver did feel a little dead though. Not quite the "pop" my Cleveland Hibore XL has.

  12. Lara says:

    I started playing golf in Feb. 2010 (never played before). I got a square two selene set which I was very pleased with. I went from shooting 158 my first scored game to 101 (today) and I am consistently anywhere between 110 to 120. I play almost every day if possible. I would like to get better and possibly be able to go pro. Do you have any suggestions on whether I should upgrade my clubs yet or not? I've been looking at Callaway Solaires and Adams Ideas for women. I also was considering the Callaway Diablos but they are so expensive and you have to piece them together which I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Any help and advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated as my birthday and anniversary is right around the corner!

  13. Good article, thank you.

  1. [... The golf equipment section of the forum gets lots of posts from beginners on whether they should buy cavity-backed clubs or blades for their starter sets. Or, what kind of ...]

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