With so much attention being spent on rescue clubs and other niche parts of golf, it might be easy to lose sight of the importance of a basic set of clubs.
That said, the Callaway Strata Golf Club Set is a worthy foundation for anyone's game. Granted, specialized clubs are nice little additions to your bag but, to learn the basic skills, the Callaway Strata's can give you the distance off the tee and accuracy in your approaches that can elevate your game.
Although no set is ever perfect for every golfer, Callaway has made a set that is remarkable for its intended use - let's look at why that is and where it falls short.
Before starting my in-depth Callaway Men’s Strata golf clubs set review, a here’s a video overview as well as a quick list of the pros and cons for the Strata set:
Callaway is targeting the novice golfer with its Strata series. In the 12-piece complete set, a 460 cc forged titanium driver with graphite shaft provides an ample sweet spot to give distance off the tee with some leniency to help keep you in the fairway.
The 3-wood offers additional loft for those par 5 approach shots from the fairway or short rough while the hybrid wood takes the place of the old long irons, valuable for shorter approaches or scrambling between the trees.
The stainless steel, cavity-backed irons, 6 through pitching wedge, have the forgiveness and face to give the player the accuracy needed to find the pin for distances up to 175 yards or even further.
Shorten the swing and open up the face of the Strata irons for even better loft and feel for those shots that need to stick.
Near the pin, the Strata 12-piece set also comes with an offset mallet-style putter to track those puts across the green. It’s a nicely balanced putter that feels comfortable in your hands, helping you to putt on the green with control and confidence.
In summary, with all of this included in the Callaway Strata 12-piece set, every golfer has the tools to improve their game if the requisite practice and dedication are invested:
As Callaway's tagline for the Strata series states, they are "Designed For Maximum Performance Right Out Of The Box." In other words, the Strata clubs were engineered for the novice to the average golfer that wants to elevate their game with a well-designed set of woods and irons that won't break the budget.
The Callaway Strata were never intended to battle for supremacy on a Sunday at Augusta. Instead, if you’re the type of player that only hits the range a handful of times a year but wants to dive into the sport, the Callaway Strata set would be a rewarding choice for your next game.
It’s time to retire those second-hand clubs you’ve been hitting since college and move up to a set that can provide you measurable improvement to your game.
Starting with the smaller irons, I felt comfortable dropping balls between the 50 and 125-yard flags on the range. Everything was well-balanced with a nozzle angle that isn’t so severe as to affect the placement of the ball in my stance.
For those looking to squeeze a little more distance out of their shots, even with the low to mid-range irons, the forged steel shafts might seem a bit constraining.
Unlike the irons, the woods come with composite graphite shafts to provide the length players want off the tee and longer fairway shots.
At 460 cc, the driver's head is large enough to instill confidence when addressing the ball but somehow feels nimble at impact. While I gave up 20 yards about my normal driver, I felt comfortable in my swing, not sensing too much flex in the graphite shaft, and enjoyed the smooth point of contact that always distinguishes a good driver from a dead one.
I tried the 3-wood both off the deck and on a low tee. With a 15 degree loft, a couple degrees higher than my normal 3-wood, I definitely had adequate loft.
However, although higher than I’m accustomed to, the additional loft was not enough to make me feel like I was sacrificing a lot of distance. The club was steady off the deck and had no difficulty generating the height and accuracy needed from a 3-wood.
I was similarly impressed with the hybrid.
While I was a late adopter to the hybrid clubs that have placed low irons on the endangered species list, I have since welcomed them as a valuable tool in my bag.
Since I typically use hybrids for long approach shots and recovery in between fairways, I spent a fair amount of time practicing hooded, running shots meant to squeeze between trees and other obstructions.
The Strata hybrid didn’t provide me with quite the feel I’m used to, not easily allowing me to force a slice or hook on my practice runners, but I still felt ample control to confidently punch out between trees and get the ball up the fairway.
I didn’t spend as much time with the mallet putter but 15 minutes on the putting green and the nine holes were more than enough to give me the confidence and feel for the club that is absolutely vital for any good putter.
The T-shape design makes tracking the puts over undulations and distances quite comfortable with an angled nozzle reminiscent of the mallets in Callaway’s Odyssey line of putters.
While the give on putts within a couple of feet of the hole felt a bit dull, I was still impressed with the club and would have absolutely no qualms putting it in my bag.
Lastly, the set comes with a functional standing bag. Its light weight makes it suitable for the times you want to walk across the course, yet still roomy and durable enough for strapping it to a cart without it rattling all over 18 holes when you decide to take the motorized route.
The bag comes with a detachable backpack harness, 5 pockets for storage, a cooler pocket to keep the beverage of your choice chilled throughout the round, and a rain hood for those wet mornings.
The Callaway Strata 12-Piece Club Set belongs to an extremely crowded space within the marketplace, occupied by sets from the biggest names in the sport all the way down to off-brands sold in discount stores and generic big box outlets.
Although I obviously have not tried all of the different sets available, I have sampled enough of Strata’s competition for the to make an educated and informed comparison.
The most popular of the competition is the Ultra Complete Package Golf Set from Wilson. The Wilson set is very similar to the Callaway's regarding completeness. The set comes with a driver, 3-wood, 4h hybrid club, 5 through Pitching Wedge, Putter, and bag with detachable shoulder strap.
It’s a good set for the money, has everything a novice golfer needs to either get started or improve their game but lacks the feel of the Callaway Strata set.
Particularly with the woods, the Wilson set doesn't quite offer the same forgiveness as the Strata, the driver having an almost hollow feeling at the point of contact.
The irons, however, are quite similar to the Callaway irons with a nice give and sense of control. The putter is adequate but nothing special. Lastly, the bag doesn’t come with a backpack harness, only a detachable shoulder strap, so it’s not as walker-friendly.
All in all, it’s a solid set of clubs for someone new to the sport but doesn’t excel in the smaller details like the Callaway Strata.
Regarding comparable sets from major brands, the Top Flite XL 13-Piece Complete Set is a worthy competitor to the Callaway Strata 12-Piece set. The set includes a driver, 3-wood, both 4h and 5h hybrid clubs, 6 iron through Pitching Wedge, a putter, and bag. The added hybrid is a welcome addition as it gives the player a bit more flexibility with the longer approach and recovery shots. The overall feel of the woods is very good, perhaps lacking just a bit of the quality seen and felt in the Strata woods, but still impressive. Again similar to the Strata, the Top Flite irons provide a comfortable feeling and maybe even a bit more touch than the Strata high irons around the green. Like the Wilson set, the Top Flite putter seems adequate for its purpose but doesn’t feel like anything special.
Aside from the woods and putter, the biggest difference between the Callaway Strata and Top Flite XL complete sets is the bag. While the Strata bag is light but durable enough to last as long, if not longer, as the clubs themselves, the Top Flite bag seems to lack that same durability. In appearance alone, it seems flimsier by comparison. The detachable dual strap harness is an excellent addition, however, and very similar to the backpack harness that comes with the Callaway set.
Overall, the Callaway Strata still holds a slight edge over the Top Flite XL set based primarily on the feel of the woods and durability of the bag. Still, the Top Flite set is a rewarding choice for most novice golfers.
The bulk of the remaining competition comes from numerous off-brands sold through some discount outlets. Although too many to list, I have found that most of these complete sets are the same, lacking the overall quality, feel and consistency of the offerings from major brands like Callaway, Wilson and Top Flite.
For someone that is looking for something basic to ease their way into the sport and doesn’t feel comfortable buying a used set from a larger manufacturer, these generic sets would fit the bill as long as the golfer isn’t expecting anything more than mediocre.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule but, at least from my personal experience, I would rather spend a bit more for the Callaway Strata 12-Piece Complete Set rather than save some money and take a risk with an off-brand set.
I still encourage you to try these sets on your own and see if your impressions are the same as mine.
If you find something that feels great to you, do some research, look for some unbiased reviews and make an educated decision. If they work well with your game and allow you to improve, then you have chosen a set that suits you well, no matter the manufacturer or price.
With the off-brand sets, if you find one that feels great and has confidence in the clubs, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try them. However, choosing one of the other three sets, the Callaway Strata golf club set, in particular, is a safe and wise bet.