Whether you’re just a beginner or a seasoned golfer, playing with a half set of clubs is not only easier to carry, but can also be a fun way to lighten the load and get creative on the course. Personally, I love playing golf with a half set, and one of the most common questions I get from golfers is how to create proper gapping, and what is the best way to pick the right clubs.
I won’t go as far as calling this the ultimate guide, but it’s my personal philosophy for building the perfect set of eight clubs to get you around the course and inspire you to improve your shot-making. If you want to get really crazy, you could work your way down to five clubs, but if a half set is new to you, this is a great place to start.
The golf bag
Let’s start with how you’re going to carry everything.
Yes, it’s easy to simply remove six clubs from your current set and call it a day, but if you have a golf bag with a ton of extra pockets or space, you’re going to end up carrying extra weight no matter what — and the point of a half set is to make things as light as possible.
A great option is a lightweight bag without a stand, but if you plan on playing early mornings when the grass is still wet, something with a stand is hard to beat. Sunday Golf, for example, has built its lineup around lightweight stand bags.
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Sunday Golf El Camino golf bag
Weighing only 3.9 pounds and holding up to 10 clubs, you’ll wonder why you ever lugged that heavy bag around!
The clubs to carry
Before we get into the club specifics, one of the most important things to do is analyze what clubs you have the most success with and what type of shots you rely on when you’re out on the course. As an example, if you choose to have a driver (we’ll get to that club in a minute), and you’re not confident in hitting your 3-wood off the fairway, it’s best to have the next club be your 5- or 7-wood.
The same goes for your irons and wedges. If you are confident that you can play a certain shot with your favorite iron, build the set around the club or clubs you have the most confidence in. Another reason this is so important is that most hazards on a golf course are in front of the green, not behind it, so you want to make sure you’re comfortable carrying the right distances to get closer to the target.
If you’re going to go sub-eight clubs, you could make the argument for starting the top of your set with a strong lofted 3-wood, but for most golfers, I highly recommend carrying a driver.
It’s going to offer the most success off the tee, and mishits are not punished as severely. Giving up distance off the tee, even with a half set, is a big no-no, so make sure to not give up that advantage.
If you’ve already got a driver in the bag, I suggest dropping down to a 5- or 7-wood as the next club in the bag. These clubs offer a nice distance gap from the driver and can be useful from almost anywhere around the course, including the rough, and especially on any long par-3’s. You can even chip with them.
As I said off the top, if you have a favorite club, it’s OK to build your half set, or at least the iron portion, around it. As an example, if you love your 7-iron, it might be a good idea to go with your odd-numbered clubs, and if you really like your 6-iron, go with the evens.
On that note, there is one more thing to consider, and that is iron gapping. For example, a lot of modern players’ distance irons have 5-degree gaps between clubs on the lower end of the set, and smaller loft gaps at the top in the longer irons. Before you make any final decisions, take a quick look at the lofts of your irons and your distance gapping to make sure you won’t have any glaring distance gaps. If you usually have 12-15 yards gaps, expect to have 20-25 yards gaps in your half set — so get creative out there.
One final note on irons: If you are looking to build a half set from scratch, all OEMs allow you to custom order only the clubs you want, so don’t feel like you need to buy all the clubs in a set if you only intend to use half of them.
Miura CB-302 Custom Irons
$350 + Customizations
Introducing the Miura Golf CB-302, the longest forged cavity-back iron ever produced by Miura Golf. With a sole width of 19 mm in the 7-iron, this club rewards golfers with optimized forgiveness and exceptional performance.
If you have only 8 clubs to play with, it’s critical that you have a wedge that you feel comfortable hitting a lot of shots with. Whether the longest club in your matching iron set is a 9-iron or pitching wedge, I recommend the highest lofted wedge be 54-56 degrees with a fairly versatile sole grind.
This way, you can keep your distance gaps to a minimum, but you can still get out of trouble if you have to open the face to get the ball up quickly.
What can I say about the putter beyond it’s a really good idea to have one in the bag. You’re going to hit a lot of putts, so regardless of how many clubs you have in your half-set, bring your favorite putter along for the ride.
Although this is only my personal guide, the end result of me building a half-set is as follows:
Driver, 5-wood, 4/6/8/pw, 56-degree wedge, putter — everything I need and nothing I don’t.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022, or build your own half-set? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below!