Finding the right combination for used golf clubs

The game of golf has seen unprecedented growth over the past three years, and it seems day-to-day lessons are continually booked from dawn to dusk. But getting a tee time isn’t the only difficult part of the game. For those new to golf, that first equipment purchase can seem daunting.

Used clubs may be the answer for those who have experienced sticker shock when looking at the latest tech in stores or browsing online.

“When you add new users to the game, the initial investment to buy clubs can be daunting,” says Dave Hunt, president of Global Value Commerce, owner of GlobalGolf.com, an Internet golf retailer. “So finding more economical and fully functional previous-generation clubs can ease the burden when you’re packing your bag for the first time.”

But how to start? And what are you looking for? It helps if you have a friend who is knowledgeable about golf equipment or if you shop at a store that has an experienced golf professional or club fitter, which can often be the same person. Your friend can help you budget and the golf pro can help you find the right clubs for you.

“When it comes to used equipment, there are several things that consumers are most aware of, but the top three would include price, condition and age of technology,” Hunt said. And the price usually depends on the age and condition. Newer clubs with more up-to-date technology will command higher prices, while previous season models tend to be cheaper.

“Consumers typically look for used clubs from last year’s model so they can always get something with newer technology to upgrade their game, but also see savings when it comes to compare prices of current model year products online,” says Hunt.

If cost is a factor – and it usually is – older generation clubs could be the way to get into the game without breaking your budget.

“There’s no set number of years that acts as a limit when it comes to finding something that will work for your game,” says Hunt. “As long as the clubs have no visible dents or cracks, you should expect them to still be able to function.

“Will you perhaps sacrifice distance and forgiveness with clubs from the previous season that don’t have the same technology as those introduced in recent years? Maybe. But there are clubs for Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to older clubs.

Even if you’re not buying new golf equipment, you might be better served by investing in a club fitting session, which will help you figure out the things you need, like shaft flex, angle of lie and the size of the handle. GlobalGolf.com has an online tool called USelection that allows you to answer a few questions and be matched with the products best suited for your game. You can also have a more in-depth fitting experience in person where a club fitter can measure lie, loft, angle of attack, swing speed and more.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to buy clubs from the person doing your fitting. If you choose not to, you will likely be charged an adjustment fee. Factor this price into your total cost. You will walk away with your personal club specs which you can take to any store that can take the used clubs you buy and adjust them to suit you.

Shaft flex is the biggest variable when it comes to getting the right clubs for you. And much of that is determined by how fast you swing the club. If you are having a club fitting session, the installer should have launch monitor technology, which can easily determine the proper shaft flex.

At the end of the day, the bottom line is the bottom line. How much should you be prepared to spend on used equipment?

Hunt says new model year clubs will cost more, regardless of condition, compared to clubs that may be five or more years old and still in excellent condition. Demand for certain popular sale models or shafts can also affect the price to expect from a used club.

“For example, a new driver released this year will generally cost between $500 and $600, while a used driver from the most recent previous season, which is still in good overall condition, will likely be between $300 and $400,” he says. “A driver two to five years ago is likely to be more in the $150 to $250 range.

“If you’re looking for newer technology to fill your bag, you can expect to spend between $1,000 and $2,000 total on a driver, fairway woods, set of irons, wedges and putter, depending on the date you want your clubs to be recent.

At first glance, it seems expensive, but compared to newer clubs, it’s still a bargain. Golf is the game of a lifetime and your investment in used equipment should last you a long time. That is, until you get better in the game and decide you need newer gear to reflect your new improvement. That’s when you’ll know you’re passionate about golf.

Michael C. Ford