Top Flite is more widely known for its golf balls than its complete club sets. On one level, that makes perfect sense – those are some pretty good balls, so it might well feel only right that they get the lion’s share of the attention.
But there’s a lot that’s worth exploring about the Top Flite XL complete club set for beginners and high-handicappers. Form an orderly line, and let’s go through this set together. You may find it worth your while if you’re at the point of changing or upgrading your clubs.
So let’s check out the set.All of this comes at a price which will suit the new golfer’s pocket very well, so maybe we should forgive the set its lackluster pitching wedge – given everything you do get at the XL’s price point, you can probably splash out on the likes of a Cleveland pitching wedge to bring the set up to scratch in terms of the level of performance the clubmaker for the most part clearly intends to put into your hands.
What’s in the bag?
- 1x Driver
- 1x 3-wood
- 1x 4-hybrid
- 1x 5-hybrid
- 4x Irons (6-9i)
- 1x Pitching Wedge
- 1x Putter
- 1x Golf Bag
- 2x Headcovers
A couple of things leap out immediately. Firstly, the XL set is not technically a complete set, because the definition of a complete set demands that it contains 14 clubs, and the XL set has only 10. But then, some companies sell 9-club ‘complete sets,’ so let’s not hurl the XL set from us with a snort of derision and contempt just yet, shall we?
Secondly, the set feels light on wedge action. Sure, a pitching wedge is great, but the lack of a sand wedge and/or a gap wedge might well leave newer golfers high, dry and looking for solutions they just don’t have when it comes close to the coup de grace.
Still, on the upside, there’s a certain quality and intelligence at work behind the clubs that come as part of the XL set.
The driver, for instance, is an oversized, 460cc Ti composite club with its center of gravity placed low and to the rear. That should give you both impressive power off the tee, and a good amount of loft to gain some distance down the fairway. Both the woods come with graphite shafts that will give you enough whip to build or boost your swing speed without adding unnecessarily to the weight of the clubs.
The 3-wood too has its center of gravity lowered for loft and for straightness of shot, whether you use it off the tee or as a fairway wood. This sort of forethought is by no means guaranteed, so when you see it here, you begin to feel like there’s a guiding intelligence behind the set, and you begin to trust it.
That’s a trust that grows when you reach the hybrids. Hybrids are more or less literally the best of both worlds, combining the distance of a fairway wood with the precision of an iron. The point being, most complete sets only spare you one – usually the 5-hybrid. There’s a certain logic to that – you can do a great deal with a good 5-hybrid, it’s the equivalent of a Swiss Army golf club, getting you down the fairway, getting you onto the green, and in some cases getting you out of bunkers and round trees, too.
But there’s a reassuring breadth of spirit in any complete set that includes the 4-hybrid too, because the step-down from a 3-wood to a 5-hybrid can be tricky to master, whereas with the 4-hybrid in between, the whole progression of the set feels more natural and flowing, like the perfect backswing.
If you’re relatively new to golf, what do you need most from your irons?
Distance? Well, we’re not going to deny it’s useful, but no. What you need most is forgiveness. Why do you need forgiveness most? Because irons are not easy, and beginner and high-handicap golfers have an understandable tendency to slice with them.
So it’s reassuring to find all the irons in the XL set come with not only wide soles and relatively broad sweet spots, but also perimeter weight placement to forgive your mis-hits and almost force your shots to go straighter. The gap between the shot you play in your mind and the shop you play in the world can often be fairly wide. All the clever club design you can get your hands on is useful when it comes to the forgiving of slices with your irons as a high-handicap golfer.
The irons in the XL set come with stainless steel shafts, which will probably help you get more control over your shots than a new golfer would otherwise have. Again, that sense of benevolent, intelligent golfing design is present in decisions like this. This is a set that was made by someone who wants to hook you into the game and keep you playing for years to come.
Which makes the pitching wedge all the more difficult to understand.
The pitching wedge in this set is, all in all, a pitching wedge. It’s not by any means a Cleveland, whose pitching wedges are an art form of loft and calculation in themselves – it’s a simple tool for scooping shots around the green to hopefully get you where you want to be.
As such, it has a workmanlike, uncomplicated – for which the cynical can read unsophisticated quality that will do the job in at least 7 out of 10 cases. Could it be better? Yes. Should it be better? You might be excused for thinking so, given the level of intelligent golfing know-how that has gone into the woods, the hybrids and the irons.
And when it comes to the putter, that intelligence flickers back to life. You get a sturdy mallet-style putter, with a set of alignment cutouts to help you line up your putts correctly and not drop unnecessary shots once you get to the green.
A lightweight stand bag comes with the set – and yes, it needs to be lightweight, especially if you’re doing the rounds the old-fashioned way on foot. Walk 18 holes with a heavyweight golf bag on your bag and you’re doing yourself an injury simply from walking about, never mind all the unfamiliar swinging and twisting.
And to round out the set, you get a couple of headcovers – one for the driver and one for the 3-wood. We personally would pick up another couple for the hybrids, because they can be a little temperamental and you’re likely to use them a lot, so keeping them protected makes good financial sense.
As a set then, what do we think?
There’s a lot of genuinely good things about the XL set – the lowered centers of gravity, the wide soles and large sweet spots for greater forgiveness on the irons, the thoughtfulness of including a 4-hybrid, and the logic of including a putter that has alignment cutouts to teach relatively new golfers how to line up their putts and save themselves several shots of frustration.
All of this makes the XL set seriously worth considering.
Do you need more wedges than you get? Yes, probably – especially when you’re new to the game. Do you in all probability need a different pitching wedge too? Again, yes, probably, though of course, your mileage may vary.