updated 9/6/2005 1:50:39 PM ET 2005-09-06T17:50:39

Does equipment make the golfer, or is it the other way around? It's a question that has plagued duffers of varying skill levels for ages--and a definitive answer isn't expected any time soon. But that sure isn't stopping anyone from trying to find out for themselves.

"For as long as golf has been played, golfers have been trying to buy a better game," says Steve Pike, a senior writer for who has tracked the golf business for years. "They think that just because they own a piece of equipment that manufacturers say will do something, they'll be able to shave ten strokes off their game. It's only natural for consumers to think that the higher the price, the better the equipment."

Indeed, in many ways golf has lately become a designer business, notes Pike, with highest-end equipment from big name manufacturers such as Callaway (nyse: ELY - news - people ) TaylorMade and Titleist--a division of holding company Fortune Brands (nyse: FOPRA - news - people )--being as much about showing off to your buddies at the first tee as about actually sinking the ball below par. In the psychological gamesmanship that is so crucial in golf, showing up with top-notch gear is like bringing a platinum-covered bazooka to a knife fight.

In order to give you that gilt-edged edge, we've sought out golf's top-of-the-line in everything from clubs to luggage to shoes to apparel. Just be sure to keep your eye on the ball--and your credit card bill.

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