Golf has unquestionably been on the upswing over the past year. Countless people have taken up the game for the first time or returned after an absence. While a boxed set or a few decades-old clubs from the garage might have been good enough to get started, it’s understandable that many of these golfers might be looking for an upgrade.
Club shopping these days can come with a serious amount of sticker shock. With the 2021 MOST WANTED DRIVER models running $500+ in most cases and iron sets around $1200, you can easily be looking at a $3000 investment once you add in woods, wedges, a putter and a bag. There is definitely a space, however, for golfers who want modern, quality clubs but at a budget half that.
By going through the 2019 and 2020 Most Wanted top performers and searching online golf markets, this article looks to find the best full bag you can build for under $1500.
Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero
The 2019 MOST WANTED DRIVER winner definitely provides a good option for building a bag on a budget. That year, the Epic Flash Sub Zero ranked 1st in strokes gained and fairway accuracy as well as 2nd in total distance. The Epic Flash features similar tech to the current 2021 MOST WANTED DRIVER Epic Max LS including Flash Face and Jailbreak Technology. Consistently available in a variety of options at around $250, it is a strong contender for the top of our budget bag.
Ping G410 LST – The legend of the G410 LST grew when it took the top spot in the BEST OF THE BEST DRIVER CHALLENGE. The club has held its value better than the Epic Flash Sub Zero, but if you are lucky enough to find one in the $300 range, the performance may justify the price.
PXG 0211 – For a new club, it is hard to deny the 2021 Best Value winner. Currently available for $289 (and previously as low as $249), the PXG 0211 holds it own performance-wise and has a number of quality shaft options at no upcharge.
Srixon Z F85
In general, fairway woods seem to depreciate a bit faster than drivers and also don’t see significant performance gains from year to year. With that in mind, the 2019 MOST WANTED FAIRWAY WOOD winner for distance should provide great value and years of service. There aren’t as many Z F85s out there as there are TaylorMade and Callaway options, but they can be found around the $100 mark.
Sub 70 Pro – The 2019 Best Value option remains a top value today. One positive is that Sub 70 has a number of Pro fairway woods available on their pre-owned site, so you can be confident in the condition of club you’ll be getting.
Titleist 818 H1
Golfers returning to the game with older equipment might be missing out on the versatility and forgiveness a good hybrid can provide. The 2019 MOST WANTED HYBRID can remedy that without breaking the bank. The Titleist 818 H1 continues to look and feel great both off the turf and as an option off the tee. Available for under $100, it’s an easy pick for the budget bag.
Cobra King F9 – If forgiveness at the top of the bag is a primary concern, the Cobra King F9 had the tightest dispersion in 2019 testing. The one-length shaft and lower trajectory might not be for everybody, but consistent results at a low price make it a definite option.
Tour Edge EXOTICS EXS 220
While the looks and lofting might turn off golfers used to more traditional irons, the 2020 Most Wanted Game Improvement Iron Value winner more than makes up in performance and price. Both long and forgiving, the EXS 220 iron set should match well for a variety of golfers who might not be the most consistent ball strikers. Sets still new in plastic can be found for around $650 (half the price of a new set of Mizuno GI irons) and considerably less for used sets.
Mizuno JPX 919 Tour – It might be true that “nothing feels like a Mizuno,” but usually that feel comes at a cost for better players. The 2019 MOST WANTED PLAYERS IRON can be found used in the $650-$800, but being a forged head means you might have to accept a clubhead that looks less than pristine.
Cleveland Launcher UHX – While it wound up second overall in strokes gained for 2020 game improvement irons, Cleveland Launcher UHX sets might just provide best overall value with options available for around $500.
TaylorMade Milled Grind Satin Chrome Wedge
Generally speaking, used wedges don’t fetch much of a premium on the used market. This is understandable as wedges suffer the most performance decline from use as grooves start to wear down. When found in good condition, however, the TaylorMade Milled Grind is a great option for golfers looking for a classic shape and still a bit of forgiveness. In 2019 MOST WANTED WEDGE testing, it ranked in the Top 3 at both 40-yards and full shots.
Ping Glide 3.0 Wedge – While wedges typically don’t get a lot of attention for new tech, Ping packed a good amount in the Glide 3.0 that might make a positive impact for higher handicaps. This includes a high-MOI head and an elastomer insert to improve feel.
Blade Putter: Tommy Armour Impact No. 2 Wide
The 2021 MOST WANTED BLADE PUTTER Value winner was the best performing putter overall from within 5 feet and solid from other distances as well. At $129.99 new, it is a fantastic option to add to the budget bag. The Tommy Armour Impact line also has a variety of head shapes, so you can find the one that fits your personal preferences.
Mallet Putter: Wilson Infinite Buckingham
The Buckingham head was the best value pick on the 2021 MOST WANTED MALLET PUTTER list, but the Infinite line from Wilson might just be the overall best value line of putters period. Ten different head shapes are available at just $99 new, so the only difficulty might be finding the one you prefer in stock.
Stand Bag: Ping Hoofer Lite
The golf bag might seem like an easy place to overlook quality in search of budget savings, but having a good bag can make a big difference for enjoying the game. For several years, the Ping Hoofer has been synonymous with “good bag,” especially for walking. By going with the Hoofer Lite, you can save $40-$50 from the regular Hoofer price by forgoing a few of the bells & whistles and have a great walking experience.
Cart Bag: Maxfli Honors+
The “baller on a budget” in The Best Cart Bags of 2021 gives pretty much all features of top ranked bags from Ping and others, but at a significantly lower price. At $169.99, the Honors+ has 14-way dividers, expandable pockets, and an insulated cooler for your cold can needs.
Coming in around $1400 in total, the options above still provide space to spare to get your preferred balls all squared away. While certainly not exhaustive, this list should prove that there still is value out there in the golf equipment space. With a bit of legwork, golfers who can’t afford or balk at the latest MSRPs can still get great performing clubs that will hopefully keep them out on the course for years to come.