Buying Used Golf Equipment
By DeepRough on 12/4/09
Sean Lensborn, author of the golf equipment review blog Deep Rough walks us through the process of buying used golf equipment. If you have questions for Sean you can reach him through his blog. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thedeeprough.
Trying to find the perfect gift for the golfer on your holiday list is never an easy task. Sure, you can take the easy route and buy that special someone a box of golf balls or a new glove…but where is the fun in that? We thought we would put together a little article on the ins and outs of finding and purchasing used golf equipment. Given the economy these days, shelling out $500 on a new driver is budget busting task that many of us just cannot pull off. So if that special someone has a new driver on his mind or you are just looking to treat yourself to an upgrade to your 1982 Spalding blades, you have come to the right place.
What is the deal with Used Equipment? Am I missing out?
From my perspective, used golf equipment has gotten a bad rap. People seem to equate used equipment to that dusty, smell rack of equipment in a dark corner of their local sporting goods store. While one could go out and spend $5 on a 1997 putter in awful shape…there are other options out there.
If you have been looking to upgrade your irons or that driver, and want to take advantage of some of the new technology out there, nothing says you need to buy the latest and greatest 2010 models on the market today. As someone who has reviewed a lot of golf equipment, I will tell you, there is not a huge difference in the clubs being released today and those released a year ago. Sure, there may be some small incremental changes, but, if you are looking at upgrading your circa 1999 cavity backs, chances are anything from 2008 through today will help you out on the course. This is especially true of drivers. Find yourself an FT-I or FT-5 driver from a few years ago for $100 at a place like CallawayPreowned, and you will see a huge difference in you long game (assuming you’re coming from a smaller headed or early 400cc generation driver).
Unfortunately (and I am certainly included in this), a lot of people get caught up in the hype of having the latest and greatest. You see all the marketing for that awesome new driver, and think that somehow it will fix all your golfing woes. Just remember, they had all that fancy marketing for the previous year’s model as well. If you cannot or are not willing to throw several hundred dollars at the golf shop for the latest and greatest, keep reading. We will show you some ways to save some bucks.
What should I look for when purchasing used equipment? Where do I go?
If you have ever been in a Golfsmith or other major golf specific retailer, no doubt you have seen their rack of used golf equipment. Often times I have found this to be an expensive place to buy used equipment. You are paying for the convenience of picking up the used clubs at a local retailer and are probably paying close to the retail price, especially when it comes to recently released equipment. Of course, there is a plus with purchasing at a brick and mortar retailer: if your gift recipient does not care for the club, they could return it and get some credit toward another purchase. Is it worth it? Not for me, but different strokes…right?
Now, a riskier option is an online auction site, such as eBay. You will most likely find the lowest price on use equipment (even clubs that may have been released a month or two ago). There is also an enormous selection of equipment. If you are looking for something specific, say a TaylorMade R7 425 10.5 degree driver with a stiff flex shaft, chances are you will find one. I have purchased numerous clubs through eBay over the years, and generally have not been disappointed. Unfortunately, it is not all sugar and sunshine on ‘the bay’. I was bit by a counterfeit equipment seller at one point, purchased a Cleveland Driver that was a complete fake. You also, generally, cannot return any equipment you purchase from sellers on eBay (unless there was some major defect – the item did not match the description, etc). I have found, though, that the goods generally outweigh the cons. If you find that you do not like the club, it is pretty simple to just go ahead and resell it on eBay: chances are you will get a similar price to what you paid. If you are smart about the process, make sure you check feedback on the seller, look at other items they have sold/purchased (is this the first time they are selling a golf club? Have other people purchased golf clubs and been happy with the item?), it is a painless process. If you want to get the absolute lowest price, even on some of the newest equipment, eBay is probably your best bet.
Now, for those of you who are put off by the auction process, want the ability to return an item, but do not want to pay top dollar, there are a couple options. Callaway Golf (http://www.callawaypreowned.com) and TaylorMade (http://www.taylormadegolfpreowned.com) both have put together online sites where they sell used clubs. They generally focus on their own equipment; however, you usually can find some equipment from other manufacturers at these sites as well. They often sell equipment in various conditions: ranging from excellent to average. I have purchased equipment from both sites, and have found that even the ‘average’ equipment is in very good shape. You usually can get a pretty amazing deal on the average equipment, anywhere from 50-75% of the original MSRP of the clubs.
I will throw one other option out there, and that is golf forum sites. There are a couple out there, GolfWRX and BombSquadGolf that have Buy/Sell/Trade sections of their forum. In these areas, members of the site will often trade or sell their own equipment. It is a little like eBay in that you are taking a risk, purchasing something from a relative unknown. However, one can usually do a little research. Find out how long the person has been on the site, see how many other items they have sold, contact other members who have purchased equipment from that person and check their feedback. I usually avoid purchasing used equipment from these sites, but sometimes you can find some good deals, especially on ‘rare’ equipment combinations (like high end shafts and tour level drivers).
I hope this has helped you better understand the process of purchasing used golf equipment. It really is pretty painless, and depending on your willingness to accept some risk, you can score some real steals out there. Given that the golf industry seems to come out with a new driver or set of irons every few months, it does not make sense to shell out a ton of money on this stuff. Let someone else ‘drive the clubs off the lot’, and then buy those slightly used clubs for half the price!
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Blade style forged irons from the 80's and earlier are available in abundance on eBay. Sets in pristine condition are available for $20 plus $15-35 shipping. At that price, you can afford a misstep or two. Better known models are closer to $100. (Collectables can be way more.) Usually all is well with old sticks, but re-gripping is common. Shaft stiffness and length can be hard to nail down from some sellers, but ask and you can often get the info you need. A soak in vinegar removes light, surface rusting on heads, but be wary of rust on shafts.
It's like used cars, if you know what you want and you are fussy and patient, you can get a terrific deal.
How did you know the Cleveland Driver was counterfeit? How obvious was it and do you have any recourse? I know a lot of the big OEM's are trying to crack down. Would you ever reach out to them and try to track the seller down legally?
Well, in the case of the Cleveland driver (a HiBore XL), I was lucky enough to have used a 'legit' version of the club a friend had purchased from a local retailer. When I received the HiBore XL from the eBay retailer, I noticed a couple fishy things. First, the font on the loft on the bottom of the club was a little off, little too big. Second, the headcover was a slightly different color than the original. Last, and the real test here, when I took it to the range, it sounded COMPLETELY different. That being said, if I had not seen or used the 'legit' one in the past, I may not have ever noticed.
As for how do you let the OEM's know about it, if you do a little digging on most of their websites, you should find a contact number or email address for the department dealing with counterfeit equipment. You are right, they are all on the look out for it now. Unfortunately, the counterfeiters seem to be getting pretty good at making replica clubs.
I ended up giving Cleveland the information about the sale, and they attempted to track the person down. Turns out they had gone through numerous eBay accounts, jacking up their rating with small sales, and then selling a bunch of clubs. This is why I mention doing some real research on the seller. Make sure they have a track record of selling golf clubs, over a good period of time. Not just 500 5 cent eBooks!
Here is a link to the original article I wrote about the HiBore experience a couple years ago: www.deeprough.com/index.php/2007/07/25/fake-hibo
I have basically my whole bag to thank from ebay. Bought Callaway driver, Titlest hybrid 4w, vokey wedges, Nike Wedge and have had all great experinces and saved im sure hundreds of dollars. Most of them had quality rating of good or even average and really were in great condition, the grips on a couple needed to be replaced but i do that anyways. Ebay is the best and selling clubs is great way to fund your next golf purchase!
Another good place to buy used clubs is 3balls.com. I've bought a couple clubs from there and they were in excellent shape, exactly as advertised. They base their prices on condition of the clubs. However, watch out for the prices on "new" stuff. It can often be found cheaper elsewhere.
I second chevymike's vouching of 3balls. I've purchased most of my clubs from there and have yet to be disappointed or surprised with any of the items I've received. Unless I'm looking for something mighty specific, they're the only store I really need to browse. Although, I am looking for shoes and I've noticed they suck for clothing and accessories.
i hope your not getting used shoes? ewwwwww
I buy pretty much everything off of Ebay and save quite a lot. I'm pretty good at it though. You need to research the seller by looking at there other items, completed items, and feedback items for red flags. Some people are shady, but a lot aren't the sharpest pencils in the pack and don't thoroughly list the item properly, i.e. leaving out vital information that would bring value or actually misspelling the brand name. Haha. Try intentionally misspelling the name and see what comes up. Odyssey/Odessey. It works for some names better than others. Or look for a basic auction and see if they leave out info that you can tell from the pics or description. Then ask them questions.
You also need to research the market price of the item itself. A simple google shopping search will bring you the best online price and an ebay search of completed items sorts by lowest price first should give you what to expect about ending values. Golf clubs raise quickly in price for the last hour or so don't get your hopes up to easily.
Actually the best thing to do is figure out your ceiling and then use an auction sniper like HammerSnipe. Its free for up to 3 auctions per week and will go in and place your max bid with like 5 or 10 seconds left.
Also need to use Paypal. You can ALWAYS return an item to any seller no matter what they say in their auction. Paypal protects you. All you have to do is file a PayPal claim pay for the shipping back. I'm actually about to file one right now! Haha.
If anyone has any questions on my methods feel free to ask.
Sorry, forgot to mention the most important thing. PATIENCE. The item may look like the deal of the century but there will be another one along in a day, a week or a month. Be patient and don't get antsy and go over your ceiling. Let it go and just keep checking back. Items that tend to end at off times will be more likely go for cheaper. On Thanksgiving I cleaned house. Not as many people will be looking to buy in the winter months so definite deals can be had. I'd post my current watch list but don't want any of you shady bastards coming over the top of me! I do love to buy me some golf clubs and electronics!
Ebay is a great way to purchase used clubs, but you should definitely ask questions before making the purchase. Some sellers don't divulge all the information, willingly or unwillingly. Here are some questions I've asked in the past.
- Is everything factory standard?
- Are you the original owner of the clubs?
- Did you make any alterations to the clubs? (cut shaft, re-shaft, etc.)
- Any skymarks (for drivers and fairway woods). Some sellers just say 'signs of use' or something vague.
- Is the lie and loft standard?
Sometimes the way the seller responds to the questions gives you a sense of how honest they are.
Make sure there are a few picture angles of the club(s). Depending on the club, it's always nice to see the face, back, top, and sole of the club. A really good seller will also show the shaft sticker or label. A 'True Temper stiff shaft' in the description may mean it's Dynamic Gold or Super Lights, etc, etc.
For the most part, my golf club purchases on EBAY have been a really great experience.
@Banker85: I buy all of my shoes used and don't find it gross in the least. Other than shoes for the gym (which were purchased new) I mainly buy leather shoes and purchasing them used is great for a number of reasons:
-they're broken in (no blisters!)
-they're cheap (generally $5-15)
-I like the hunt
Golf is a sport where a lot of people try and many fail. These people are predominately adult men with money (check the stats) and when they quit it's either sell, donate, throw away, or store until they do one of the prior. This is awesome for people like me (adult male, standard size) because I can enjoy the sport of golf within the budget I set for myself (most of that budget going towards greens fees, lessons, and the driving range). I don't mean this as a slam on you but I just wanted to point out that many people buy used shoes and find nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, I buy most of the things I own second-hand.
...Partnered with the financial savings is the fact that nothing had to be made brand new for me, nothing had to be sent to a dump after I was done with it, and I can help out a non-profit or a company who donates a sizable amount to a non-profit. Just the other day I purchased a pair of Etonic Dry Essentials for $5 that were in new condition with not a spec of dirt on them just in time for the sloshy pacific northwest winter. Deals to be had, indeed.
With that being said I have purchased almost all of my golf clubs from craigslist (I was surprised no one mentioned this yet) at a considerable discount. No shipping, all locally, can inspect the goods before you buy, can haggle, and maybe you can make a friend out of it.
Craigslist is cool too but there are more shady people and no regulations. I actually bought my 2 CG14's off of a dude in Texas on Craiglist. $80 for 2 almost new wedges with upgraded Decade grips. Remember that you can use PayPal for Craiglist too and get the same protection as Ebay.
Also, try using Ebay but just sort the search by "nearest first." If you see something you like ask them if its cool to meet locally instead of paying an extra $10-$20 for shipping. Since people take shipping into consideration when bidding, you can really get some steals on items local, especially heavy or big things like bags or balls. I usually buy my Pro V's that way. It does work better for people living close to a more heavily populated area. Sometimes I just do a search for everything under the "golf" section and see what people are selling within 15 miles of me.
@nickp: i was messing around my first pair of golf shoes i got were some footjoys from salvation army for 8 bucks. I guess no funky smell and clean why not, im definetly not above using second hand stuff.
There is chain of used sports equipment retailers called "Play It Again Sports." They have a store near a driving range in North Reading, MA where they allow you to take 3 used clubs to demo at no cost. I have picked up a few really good deals on clubs (TM R5 Dual- D = $60). You can even trade-in and get credit towards new(er) equipment.
After loosing my 58/8 spin milled oil-can Vokey last week, I looked in the used club section at two local golf shops as well as the on-line sources. I could have ordered a new one from Golfsmith but didn't want to pay full price. Seemed like this combination of loft and bounce would be hard to replace without coughing up another $100+. We have a "Play It Again Sports" nearby so I checked them out. There I found, a 58/8 spin-milled satin-finish Vokey in good condition for $44.00. I put a new grip on it, and am now good-to-go.
Yeah forgot about Play It Again sports. When I lived in Alaska I remember them having the DEALS going on there- especially during seasonal sales.
Good call on Play it Again, if you have one near you check it out...you definitely can find nice deals there from time to time! Great stuff everyone!
something to mention about ebay -
there are sites like "3ballsgolf" that are sellers on there that are totally legit. So you get the cheapness, but without the risk. They do usually get a few $$ more than a private seler though for their items.
(not sure if this has been said, but cant be bothered to check all the posts)
nice useful article too btw
Frankie C says:
It's amazing that Ping Eye 2s are still in demand, especially with all the other technologically superior clubs out there in the used club market now.
Is it just brand recognition or are they great irons?
3ballsgolf all the way, got Taylormade RAC OS 2 for $73.00. Came with new grips which alone was probably worth what I paid for them. Only missing the 3I and PW, which I just kept from my old set.
RAC OS2s are a solid used buy, great clubs for any level player.
3Ballsgolf is decent, probably the best of the powersellers. Best thing about them is the combined shipping. Each additional club is only another $1 added, so multiple purchases are the most economical.
Prices are mostly higher from those power sellers though, pics are often generic, and headcovers usually aren't included where applicable. I'd rather buy from an infrequent private seller for 10-20% cheaper, unless I'm looking to do a multiple club purchase.
Although I'm just a slave to the best deal wherever it can be had. :)
Eyal Meshulam says:
if you buy used golf club from a store it is usually pretty new since it came from a customer that bought the club, played it few times and return it for a refund so it probably only have few scratches.
you can check taylormadepreowned.org/ for some reviews of used golf clubs.
David Schnider says:
this is the place wherein you can buy used golf clubs at a cheaper price!
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