Used golf clubs can be an easy and inexpensive way to build a golf set. With companies creating new clubs every year, there is a rush for golfers to show off the latest and greatest technology to their weekly foursome. These disregarded, yet perfectly fine used clubs find their way to reputable resellers all over the country and offer a terrific way for the weekend warrior to create a stellar set on the cheap. But before you go diving in, realize that there is a prosperous market for counterfeited golf clubs and fakes are everywhere. This guide will steer you away from these potential robberies of your hard earned money and give you insight into what to look for to make sure your purchase is genuine.
What to Look for when Buying Used Clubs
The first step in finding authentic used golf clubs is creating a base of reliable information. For example, consulting with your local golf professional is an excellent resource for helping you determine which golf clubs are the real deal. Local golf stores that market a trade-in policy for new clubs typically have an extensive collection of used clubs that pass a rigorous inspection. These verified used clubs are guaranteed to give the golfer confidence in your purchase.
The places to avoid when searching for clubs is shady resellers on the internet. As renowned as eBay can be for used golf club selection, it is also a haven for counterfeits. Always apply the “if it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t” rule to your shopping. Avoid purchasing from overseas countries like Taiwan and the Philippines because of their rampant issues with forgeries.
Now once we find places that offer reliability, you need to know what to look for in a solid used golf club.
Know the Condition of the Used Golf Club
There are four levels that you may see to describe a club’s condition. The first is known as mint. This means the club is as close to off-the-shelf as possible. There are no scratches, scuffs or visible issues. The next tier is excellent. These clubs may have slight cosmetic damage, but fundamentally the club is sound. The third level is very good. Clubs under this tier could have cosmetic damage plus minor forms of physical damage on the clubhead. The final level is named value. This is for the remaining clubs who have a variety of damage of all types. These used golf clubs may be older and in need of serious restoration.
When searching for a driver to add to your set, you want to make sure that the club has a straight shaft, a clean and dentless clubhead and, if weighted, that the proper weights are included. Another model to consider when looking at the newer, more expensive drivers is one with the adjustable angle feature. When you inspect a used adjustable driver, make sure the junction is sturdy, simple to turn and locks into place securely. These are especially important to hit on the range because of the number of parts each driver has to be complete.
When buying used irons, you need to look for consistent quality throughout the set. Here is an example of what to avoid: Perhaps the lower number irons are in excellent condition due to very little use, but the 7, 8, and 9-iron would be placed in the value tier. The price of this set reflects a small discount on a new set of the same model. This would be a set of irons to pass on. Depending on the number of years they were owned and used, it may be difficult to find a set of clubs where the high vs. low-numbered iron has clear consistency. Newer models should look comparable all the way through the set.
Another solid tip is don’t forget to check the grooves when inspecting the irons for wear. It’s not difficult to get the grooves of your irons sharpened, so if there appears to be neglect on the club face, don’t immediately cast that set aside. Grips and sharpened grooves are easy fixes on irons and wedges.
When finding a wedge to add to your collection, use the inspection method we laid out earlier with the irons. Also, give notice to the length of the club. Some golfers like to add or subtract an inch or two from the shaft of the wedge for better handling and control. In addition to length, make sure that the wedge is the degree you are looking to add to your set. Just because you find a good deal on a 50-degree wedge when you are shopping for a 52-degree doesn’t make it an instant buy. Degrees matter on wedges especially. They affect the shape and loft of a shot.
The best way to improve a used putter is with a new, thicker grip. When shopping for putters, absolutely find a place to stroke a few putts. So much of putting is about feel, and how the ball comes off the face. Without testing a pre-owned putter, you’ll never know what will happen when you get to the course. Also, take a few minutes to check the putter face for damage. Unless money is tight, find a high-level used putter and invest in a quality head cover. Putters need little maintenance along the way and should remain productive for many years.
How to Buy Used Golf Clubs
Remember these are used clubs. Don’t expect to find pristine drivers and wedges sitting on the shelf waiting for you to sweep in and buy them at a 75% discount. These clubs have been sitting in bags, been knocking around with other clubs on cart rides and played for an unknowable amount of rounds. What you are looking for is clubs that have been gently used and hit several markers of quality. The point of buying used golf clubs is to assemble a useful set that will last for several years with proper maintenance. Here are a few areas to focus on when deciding if the used golf club is right for you.
Basic Information about Golf Clubs
The easiest thing you can do when honing in on purchasing a used club is to find basic information about the item. This is where the internet becomes very handy and can save you hours of time. Questions that need answering include: What year the club was made? What was the original price of a new version of this club? If it’s a specialized club like a driver, fairway wood or putter, what other versions did this company make that year? Was this made for super-improvement or low-handicap players?
Chips and Scratches can Signal a Bargain
When you find a brand and a price level you are comfortable with the next step is to inspect the club. Remember that every used golf club will show wear and tear. The trick is finding a club that has been well maintained knowing that it won’t be perfect. Finding chips and scratches on a used clubhead is to be expected. Locating a few of these imperfections may have you throwing the club back in the bin but realize that cosmetic issues also create a buying opportunity. Appearance is everything in the used club market. What you want is a club that isn’t fundamentally altered or changed because of damage. A scratch coupled with some paint chipping does not instantly mean that the club is a turkey. If the club is a trusted brand, there may be a bargain that just needs some care to restore its’ previous glory.
Don’t Overlook the Simple Things
After a few hours of research, you may begin to feel fairly confident in spotting the difference between authentic and a fake. But this is where your brain can work against you. Don’t take a small checklist to the golf shop when evaluating used clubs. Golfers will sometimes be solely focused on authenticity but then miss the obvious fact that the shaft has a slight bend from improper storage. After purchasing, they’ll take it to the range and wonder why it feels “funny” at contact. Inspect the entire club from the grips to the clubhead. Don’t leave anything to chance and if you can hit balls with the used clubs, by all means, do so.
Don’t Worry about the Grips
When hitting used clubs, realize the grips should be replaced immediately upon purchase. Inadequate grips can affect your ability to make solid contract when testing the used golf club but don’t discount a wedge because the previous owner was negligent. When hitting the clubs for the first time, study the club’s construction. A newer model is always preferred when making your final choice. It may cost a few bucks more but will be worth it in the long run.
Where to Buy: Choosing Safety over Price
There is always an argument to be made that when buying used golf clubs, not having to worry about authenticity outweighs the size of the discount. When looking for clubs, search the websites of manufacturers like Callaway and TaylorMade for certified pre-owned golf clubs. Also stores like PGA Tour Superstore and Golf Galaxy allow you to hit any of their used club inventory on site. The clubs will have a limited warranty and be guaranteed for any defects you find after leaving the store.