In 2023 the best golf club brands are harder than ever to tell apart. There is not only the dominance of the “big 5” brands (Callaway, Titleist, TaylorMade, Cobra, and PING) but we also have some monster “JDM” brands (Japanese Domestic Market meaning Mizuno, Srixon, and others) competing on a global scale. Finally, the availability of international manufacturing facilities to start-up companies has made the “direct to consumer” and budget brands able to put the best technology in their customers’ hands at a fraction of the cost.
The lines are blurrier than ever, but the upshot for the consumer is that the floor is very very high when purchasing new golf clubs these days. It is very hard to find a “bad” set of clubs from any reputable manufacturer, as even the “entry-level” clubs of today are going to feature distance and forgiveness technology will feel like revolutionary space-age advancements over your grandpa’s favorite set.
In this article we will take a look at the subtle differences in style, performance, and price amongst different categories and different club manufacturers and try to sort through the best golf club brands in 2023.
Top 10 Best Golf Club Brands
Titleist Golf Clubs
What’s in a name? Well as far as branding goes … everything! The script Titleist logo might be the most recognizable logo in the golf world today. The branding just oozes class and quality, and their products have a reputation for backing that up.
Although Titleist makes a wide variety of products, and there are definitely top-tier offerings from other “big 5” brands and designer brands that meet or exceed their mark, when Titleist puts something on the market, they are aiming to make the #1 product in that class, and sell it for the according price. They are the “luxury class” of golf equipment, and their signature product, the ProV1 golf ball, sums up everything they do.
For many decades the Titleist name has been synonymous with quality, as their equipment and especially their golf balls were recognized to perform to the same high standard without much variance in production quality. This reputation is backed up even today, where you might pay a little extra, but you’re going to get top-of-the-line equipment that is built to last.
Some brands that are in the Titleist family are also Scotty Cameron putters, Vokey wedges, and FootJoy soft goods. These all speak to the same reputation. Some of the pickiest golfers of all time have been die-hard users of Titleist family equipment due to the fact that they know when they put on a new glove, open a new sleeve of balls, or get a new wedge with a certain bounce and grind that it is going to be manufactured to the tightest specifications in the industry and perform the same as the last one they had, which they also probably fell in love with.
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TaylorMade Golf Clubs
TaylorMade might give Titleist a run for its money in brand recognition, but only after spending hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to put a dent in what Titleist had already established. Just because TaylorMade advertises so much doesn’t mean their products are inferior or that the advertisements are covering up some deficiency, but it does change their business model and their cost structure is a little different than others in the industry.
TaylorMade has by far the most (and the most iconic) pro players signed to its “roster” of athletes. There are in fact too many to list here, but Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Nelly Korda proudly sporting TaylorMade gear and clubs gives you an idea of the extent they are willing to go to keep their products at the forefront of golfers’ minds.
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All this also says that it's obvious that their equipment isn’t holding back the best in the world. One thing to be aware of with TaylorMade’s business strategy is that they are not shy about the fact that they are going to release new clubs several times per year. So if you invest in TaylorMade hard goods, know you’re going to have to bite the bullet when the “latest and greatest” comes out, possibly just a few weeks after you take the plunge. Conversely, this means you can often find “used” TaylorMade gear that is materially almost indiscernible from their newest sets.
Despite their marketing of the highest-level professionals, if TaylorMade has a sweet spot, you could argue it’s in making goods for the everyday golfer. While all the brands mentioned make very competitive clubs for every performance level, TaylorMade offers more options and puts more choices in their lineups for the mid and high handicap golfers than some of its competitors and focuses a lot of their technological efforts on making the best clubs for these players.
The only thing to keep in mind is that there is one tradeoff … is that all those superstars aren’t playing TaylorMade clubs for free … and those costs along with the engineering costs to have a new technology developed and patented every few months have to be passed along to the consumer. One way TaylorMade is able to mitigate this is through volume. The downside to this is that their clubs have a reputation of not lasting as long as, say, Titleist or PING clubs or some of the Japanese manufacturers.
They have come up with a GREAT strategy for dealing with the occasional cracked clubface, though. You might not see this advertised blatantly but if you look online there are countless stories of people sending a broken TaylorMade club back to them and receiving a replacement club of the newest model that TaylorMade has with very little questions asked. Technically this is completely at their discretion and applies only to clubs inside their “warranty period” but there are many accounts of them being VERY generous with this policy even to long-time customers.
Cobra Golf Clubs
Cobra is a brand that has admittedly taken some hits in recent years. In 2010 the company was acquired by Puma (from Acushnet, the parent company of Titleist). Since then, its major assets marketing-wise have been Rickie Fowler (who’s career has tapered off in recent years) and Bryson DeChambeau, who shockingly criticized the company’s equipment very publicly on occasion before abruptly parting ways with the manufacturer in 2023. Many other pro golfers use Cobra equipment (Lexi Thompson being the top woman) but none that can really compete with the all-stars that tout the other Big 5 equipment makers’ clubs.
All that said, marketing and sponsorships are not what make a quality product. Namesakes aside, Cobra’s unique offerings in recent times have focused around Bryson DeChambeau’s equipment efforts, many of which have not been relatable to their target markets. This includes his one-length iron sets, which Cobra made a large effort to produce for the masses, but never represented more than a small fraction of interest from the golfing public. Then, when Bryson started hitting long drives, everyone immediately forgot all about single-length irons and all that was talked about was Bryson’s driver.
Unfortunately a lot of that talk was about how Bryson was never happy with the technical performance of the driver. By most estimates, the Cobra drivers of recent years have performed just fine, but these comments cast a shadow for sure over some Cobra loyalists and in a marketplace that is operating on razor-thin margins to try to sell ostensibly the same products to the same customers, it doesn’t take much for a manufacturer to take a back seat to the plethora of other options and marketing materials that inundate the golf consumer.
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Ping Golf Clubs
PING golf clubs are synonymous with craftsmanship, innovation, and technical excellence. They have built their brand on function-over-form. While they, like all other manufacturers, do offer some very tidy, classical designs, they are most famous for their irons that push the limits of what is considered aesthetically pleasing, all for the sake of performance.
This motif in their equipment offerings goes all the way back to the days of their founder, Karsten Solheim, who pushed many innovations of the golf market. To this day, PING may be known as the “club nerd’s” brand. They are huge advocates of performance and science-based testing as well as precision engineering over style and sponsorships.
Both the “blade” style putter and the “cavity back” style iron were essentially invented by PING and represented absolute evolutions in club design for every single level of golfer for decades, until other manufacturers were able to successfully copy them. They have some of the most legendary and iconic designs in golfing history.
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The other thing PING is famous for is pioneering the “custom fitting” era with their “dot” system. PING clubs started featuring custom colored “dots” to represent different lie angles on their clubs and introduced static fitting charts based on body measurements to the mass consumer long before the average golfer knew they were even supposed to care about lie angles or custom fitting.
In today’s game, however, they might be most famous for producing some of the best drivers. One of the neat measures of the real performance of a club … in a game where players are constantly paid to put the latest offering in the bag … is when you see not just one but many tour pros using equipment that is 2, 3, 4 or more generations old. The PING G400 driver was one such club, being spotted in the bags of Corey Conners, Louis Oosthuizen, and Patrick Reed as recently as 2022, after being released in 2017 … which is a staggering staying power in modern golf equipment terms. This is a testament to a brand that only releases clubs when they have something truly innovative to offer, not just on a marketing schedule, and if you buy a PING club you can expect to keep it in the bag for many seasons and not miss a beat.
Callaway Golf Clubs
Callaway is a relative newcomer to the golf equipment scene, but has made a big splash and had staying power both amongst pros and joes. Unlike some of its competitors who had a market share as far back as the 1960s or earlier, Callaway wasn’t founded until the 1980s and didn’t become a major force until the 1990s. This was with the advent of the “metal-wood era” and the ability for them to make and popularize their “Big Bertha” line of driver heads. As engineers were no longer constricted to compact head designs, Callaway surged forward with their “bigger is better” campaign and now virtually every offering on the market is going to be within a few CCs of the maximum allowable head size by rule (460cc).
Nowadays, Callaway has moved away from their “redneck” roots selling Big Berthas, sponsored by John Daly, and taken that success (they were by far the best-selling company for awhile) and turned it into a heavyweight in the equipment space. Just like the other top manufacturers, you can get anything you want from Callaway. Their wedges are backed by Phil Mickelson, the greatest wedge player of the generation if not all time, and they have stolen Jon Rahm away from TaylorMade and have arguably the best ball striker on the planet gaming their irons and drivers. It should also be noted that Odyssey putters are Callaway’s subsidiary and have produced some of the best, most iconic, and long-lasting putters on the market (that aren’t named Scotty).
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As usual, the sponsorships are window dressing, but it shows that Callaway has clubs not just for The Man but for Every Man as well. Given all that, Callaway is another company that takes its profits and reinvests them into pushing the limits of game-improvement technology, just like they did when they first started pushing bigger and bigger Berthas into the market. While they have a “pro” line just like every other manufacturer, their bread is buttered by the sheer volume of selling clubs that can make your everyday golfer hit more hero shots and get away with the squirrely ones.
Mizuno Golf Clubs
Mizuno golf clubs are like licorice. Some people don’t like licorice. But people who do like it REALLY like licorice! This has led to many Mizuno aficionados being given the “fanboy” label instead of just a regular customer, as many people who get into Mizuno clubs will never entertain the idea of playing something else again.
They are perhaps the quintessential “players blade” manufacturer but like other companies they have branched out to offer a massive line of products to suit any level player. They have just done so by coming from a dominance of the “other side” of the equation. Old School Mizuno blade-iron designs are some of the most sought after pieces for club nerds. The Japanese engineering and forging along with elite quality steel has made the company best known for highlighting the ultimate, buttery feel of a soft forged iron.
In recent years, however, they have also started to blend in some of the best “players cavity” or “players distance” offerings on the market, as well as full hollow-bodied game-improvement clubs that would rival the forgiveness of any other brand.
Mizuno’s marketing strategy is basically to let the products speak for themselves. It’s an interesting concept because, while making some of the most precise, most elegant products made from the highest quality materials on the planet, they can also pass these sponsorship savings on to you. While they do have some players they have sponsored over the years, many Tour pros, such as Brooks Koepka during several of his major wins, are left to choose the clubs on their own based purely on performance, which is a unique “flex” in the golf world by Mizuno and flies in the face of other manufacturers models, and really is a testament to the high performance value that their products are known for that a player would turn down millions of dollars in endorsement money just to play their clubs for free.
Srixon Golf Clubs
Srixon is the “other” big company coming out of Japan, although there are many other smaller outfits. They are well known for Hideki Matsuyama, of course, as well as Brooks Koepka switching to their irons when he finally moved away from years of Mizuno loyalty.
Srixon has at its advantage the things that all the Japanese manufacturers do. An emphasis on quality over quantity and an emphasis on precision materials and engineering. All of this along with a penchant for that soft, smooth, velvety, world-famous Japanese steel and you’ve got a major competitor on the world stage in 2023.
Cleveland Golf Clubs
It should be noted that Cleveland is now the same company as Srixon, but is their North American subsidiary and the Cleveland brand, as of 2012, makes a limited offering of VERY good clubs that are tailored specifically towards amateurs and other players who have slower swing speeds or have high swing speeds and want maximum forgiveness.
XXIO Golf Clubs
XXIO is also another subsidiary of Srixon and fulfills basically the same role as the Cleveland brand, but for their international audience. You won’t find any players’ blade offerings from XXIO, as they focus solely on taking care of the average golfer who wants as much distance and forgiveness as possible from their clubs.
Miura Golf Clubs
Miura is kind of a “niche” or “collectors” brand representing one of the best-known of the lesser-known JDM or Japanese Domestic Market manufacturers. Like the other Japanese manufacturers they are known for designing very sleek, very elegant, very soft forged irons. Miura targets the true connoisseur and is kind of a status symbol of sorts in a player’s bag. While they are more common in Asia and even in Europe, they stand out as something exotic in most player’s bags.
They have topped this off with linking up with Justin Rose and having him put several versions of Miura prototypes in his bag in recent years. If he isn’t the epitome of that elegance and class that Miura is striving to associate their brand with, then I don’t know who is!
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KZG is another high-end Japanese company that specializes in soft forged clubs, much like Muira. They compete in the same space, offering a wide variety of clubs but focusing more on the better player and players concerned with feel and style as much as performance. You will find boutique KZG shops in many major golf markets in the USA these days as their clubs have a cult following, especially their “evolution” line which progressively adds more and more cavity and forgiveness to the iron as the lofts get lower.
Tour Edge Golf Clubs
Tour Edge has made a name for itself in recent years with their “Exotics” line being gamed by several PGA Champions Tour players, namely Bernhard Langher (who has one of the coolest equipment setups on the planet, playing a hodgepodge of clubs from up to 7 different equipment manufacturers!). As of 2023 he is said to be using the 4-7 irons and the pitching wedge from Tour Edge, but uses a different manufacturer for his 8 and 9 irons!
Besides Langher, Tour Edge has carved a niche for making some of the best fairway woods on the planet and are very popular amongst high-performance senior golfers. However they offer sets that compete in the mid-price niche for all golfers, often being awarded “best value” in any given club category in recent years, as their clubs provide the closest thing to tour-level performance for a fraction of the cost.
Best Value Golf Club Brands
Wilson Golf Clubs
Wilson used to be a giant in the industry, and in sporting goods in general, but has fallen off the radar in recent years. In the golf space, they have actually regained some foothold, and while the marketing isn’t there that the Big 5 have, they are producing equipment that can definitely hang with the big boys.
While the days of Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer proudly toting Wilson equipment around a major championship are long gone, today they actually make some of the best tour-level equipment outside of the “Big 5” and Gary Woodland even used their Wilson Staff iron set to win the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2019. Aside from that they also produce entry-level sets and boxed sets that are very popular for beginners and are a no-muss no-fuss very well made set for somebody who doesn’t want to overthink a budget set.
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Top Flite Golf Clubs
Top Flite is definitely synonymous with the most “budget” golf brand these days, perhaps along with Pinnacle. While they offer a variety of equipment, this company caters almost exclusively to the golfer who wants to prioritize cost-savings.
Top Flite is actually the same company as Callaway, but for branding reasons they differentiate their two tiers of equipment. Top Flite equipment is definitely cheaper, and well suited for the beginner golfer or somebody who doesn’t play every week and can still get a lot of mileage out of a set that is not intended to be heavily abused week-in week-out. They, too, specialize in boxed sets with everything you need, plus a bag, for the weekend golfer to get started right away.
It should be noted that while Top Flite represents perhaps the peak “bargain” golf brand these days, with modern technology and manufacturing techniques, the clubs are still very serviceable and useful for somebody who wants to see how much they like the game before perhaps “graduating” to another set down the road.
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Adams Golf Clubs
Adams are definitely considered a “value” company, but like Tour Edge, they have made a niche and a cult following for themselves over the years as a company that can really compete with the big boys, but without the name-brand price tag.
Adams has been especially favored for their fairway woods and hybrids but have also produced several high-quality iron sets of the years. They are a fantastic choice to check out if you want to go away from the household names and still get clubs that are well-made and can perform as well as anything else on the market.
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Direct-to-Consumer Golf Club Brands
The “direct-to-consumer” model simply means that the club manufacturers here do not deal with middle men or separate retailers, instead selling their clubs directly to the consumer and bypassing any markups.
PXG Golf Clubs
PXG is a huge brand in golf nowadays, and is arguably the newest “big name” player on the market. What’s interesting about them is that they are technically a direct-to-consumer organization (you won’t find PXG clubs for sale at your local sporting goods store, for example) but they eschew a lot of the traditional DTC values and instead opt to compete directly with the “Big 5.”
Usually DTC models try to offer value and bargains for competitive equipment, and they save money on markups, sponsorships, and advertisements and pass that savings along to the consumer and present themselves as a budget alternative to the major brands. PXG on the other hand actually generally sells their clubs for more than most competitors and markets their product very heavily and sponsors many men’s and women’s professional players.
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PXG is trying to make the absolute best golf club possible and market to people who want to pull out all the stops and spare no expense for the best golf clubs, and are attempting to compete with the household names on quality, not price, which is very different from most traditional direct-to-consumer brands.
Sub 70 Golf Clubs
Sub 70 is your quintessential “traditional” direct-to-consumer offering. They take advantage of strategic partnerships with factories and engineers that are very familiar with the manufacturing and design process that the big-name brands are using. Almost always these facilities are overseas, and companies like Sub 70 take advantage of “not reinventing the wheel” and try to make very similar products using the same processes and materials as their competitors, but by cutting out advertising, retailer markup, and even R&D costs they attempt to offer similar products at a fraction of the cost.
There are many companies in this niche (RobinGolf, featured below, is a competitor) but Sub 70 is perhaps the most well known and one of the highest quality, most well-run companies. They have an extensive selection of clubs and a bevy of very satisfied customers to back up their claims of providing a product that is extremely competitive with name brand club makers.
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Best Kids Golf Club Brands
Gone are the days of cutting down grandpa’s sand wedge and watching your 6-year-old swing it like a sledgehammer! Check out these kids golf club brands that are tailored for any age or size.
US Kids Golf Clubs
US Kids golf clubs are probably the most iconic brand of kids golf clubs on the market. They are the go-to for parents who want to get their kids into golf or even the competitive junior player. They feature a lot of “box set” offerings and sell unisex sets that are designated by the player’s height.
RobinGolf is a newcomer to the market, in the global e-commerce age of entrepreneurship that also has brought us Sub 70 golf. RobinGolf has decided to also include a kids set in addition to their mens and womens offerings. They offer two different full sets (bag, headcovers, and six clubs) based on age and height categories.
The global golf club market is a multi-billion dollar industry, and in the USA alone there are tens of millions of active golfers. Needless to say, nobody has exactly cornered this market, and as of this writing, the best golf club brands are as diverse as ever.
At the same time, with the limits of technology being approached more and more tightly every year, never before has the “floor” been so high when it comes to value golf clubs and never has it been harder to decide between the styles of the top manufacturers, whose product lines overlap more than ever despite marketing efforts to rephrase the same innovations in as many new and different ways as possible.
It’s no wonder that you have quite the scene for any self-professed “club junkie” because there is a veritable buffet of offerings and many new contenders even in recent years.
Ultimately, the decisions have been made easier than ever, because it is a lot more difficult to go “wrong” than it ever has been before, and you’re likely to find multiple sets that would suit you very, very well and get to decide between them by simply splitting hairs on aesthetics, cost variations, and personal brand preferences. At the end of the day you can also usually go try all of the clubs side-by-side at your favorite golf retailer and see for yourself.
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The best advice in this modern marketplace of golf equipment is if you hit a club one or two times and don’t LOVE it, put it down and try a different model because there’s just far too many options to spend time trying to talk yourself into liking something just because tour players, magazines, etc. say it’s the best. Buying a new golf club should be like buying art - don’t buy it unless you absolutely have to have it. I.e. don’t buy it unless you hit it and go “I absolutely HAVE to have this in my bag!”