I'm in the market for new clubs and I was at a golf show over the weekend. A friend from my golf league is trying to convince me to purchase custom built clubs. His reason is a custom fitter can check the flex in each iron and wood's shaft, example: my 5 iron flex would be different then my 7 iron, etc. I'm a 22 handicap and really confused. I like the Adams Tight Lies Plus, but I'm now wondering which way to go. Also, the Adams Tight Lies Plus are $499 , driver all the way down to putter. Too good to be true? Help!
Name brand vs custom built clubs
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First the Adams Tight Lies Plus is a boxed set of decent, durable clubs for beginners. Lots of people start this way.
Being that you're a 22 HDCP - within shot of breaking 90 half the time - I think you're beyond this Adams set.
Next, let's clear some things up about custom clubs. They can be either brand name, or open-stock component combinations.
If you decide you like Callaway X Hot irons, you can get fitted for a set. The clubfitter will put you on a launch monitor, get data on best shaft type and lie angle, and grip thickness. Then, the filler will send this info to Callaway, and the factory will build the set to your specs and send it to you. Sometimes the fitting is free if you buy a new set. And, unless you upgrade to some really weird shafts and grips, the custom fit set won't cost you any more than an off-the-rack set.
Or, you can go to a custom club shop where someone will build you a set of clubs from components. I played from 1994 to 2008 with a set of Pro Tour Black irons (Ping Eye2 clones) fitted with Stiff flex Dynalite Gold shafts. The lie was 2 degrees flat, and eliminated a persistent problem I had with hook misses. The heads were very durable.
If you consider the custom shop route, talk to better players in your area and find out who does a decent job building clubs. Really good custom guys can do little tweaks to your clubs to better fit your swing, and often have located some open-stock heads of good quality that they use for years. The guy who made my Pro Tour irons built different sets for players who used them to win local senior tournaments. He also made custom putters for lots of players.
Downside on custom-shop open-stock clubs: if they don't work out, you're pretty well stuck with them.