Playing a round of golf with your buddies isn’t as much fun when your clubs are old and you can’t seem to stop eyeing their high tech drivers, hybrids, and putters. Buying cheap golf clubs is a huge gamble, but you can have the same fancy clubs as your friends on a budget if you choose used golf clubs (and they will never know!).
With the constant tweaks to modern golf clubs that big manufacturers like Callaway, TaylorMade, and Titleist make, there’s always a club that’s being upgraded to something just slightly different. And where there’s an upgrade, there’s a player who must have it the moment it hits the market. Because there’s so much churn in equipment among modern golfers, an enormous market has developed for used golf clubs.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Telling the good clubs from the bad ones isn’t hard if you have a friendly neighborhood club peddler who takes golf clubs in on trade. Expert retailers like club vendors and pro shops are in the business of golf clubs — they bet their reputation on what they sell, be they new or used golf clubs. When they take a club in on trade, they carefully grade the club, noting any defects, dings, or scratches, and when they put said club on their sales floor (real or virtual) they price the club accordingly.
Of course, you may not be purchasing your next used golf clubs from a reputable retailer, but as long as you carefully examine the clubs you’re interested in before taking them home, you may still come out smelling like a rose. When buying used clubs, keep an eye on the following key items:
Scratches, dings, and nicks
Shallow scratches, dings, or nicks are generally par for the course. Think about all the abuse your clubs take during a day of golf — a little wear is normal, but big missing chunks, rust, or deep dings are a good sign you should pass and look for a different club.
Clubs that have been played generally have the bugs worked out of them, but sometimes they’re sold off having been only lightly used. If you don’t trust the source of your clubs to know what they’re looking at, make sure you check the clubheads carefully. Make sure they fit snugly or expect to have to take your new clubs to the pro shop for adjustments.
Golf clubs aren’t meant to be used as battering rams, but that doesn’t mean people always do what’s best for their clubs. Check the shafts to ensure they’re straight and true. Putters may have small bends near the clubhead, this can be a normal part of the club design.
Before you take your clubs home from a CraigsList adventure, swing them. Hit some balls if you have the opportunity and make sure they swing cleanly without anything feeling weird about the weight or balance. Golfers sometimes get the idea to modify their clubs without professional help — these are not clubs you want to play with.
When you’re in the market for used golf clubs, the best thing you can do is educate yourself about the clubs you’re looking to purchase. Know how they should swing and feel on impact and give any contenders a try before you buy. After all, unlike a reputable club dealer, Joe Golfer may not be willing to return your money if you realize there’s a defect.