Golf has experienced unparalleled growth over the last three years, and it seems that daily-fee courses are continuously booked from dawn to dusk. But getting a starting time is not the only difficult part of the game. For those new to golf, that first purchase of equipment can look daunting.
Pre-owned clubs can be the answer for those who have experienced sticker shock when looking at the latest technology in the stores or browsing online.
“When you add new adopters to the game, the initial investment to purchase clubs can be intimidating,” says Dave Hunt, president for Global Value Commerce, which owns GlobalGolf.com, an internet golf retailer. “So, finding some more economical, perfectly functional prior generation clubs can lessen the burden when you’re first putting together your bag.”
But how do you start? And what do you look for? It helps if you have a friend who is savvy about golf equipment or if you shop in a store that has a golf professional or experienced club fitter—which often can be the same person. Your friend can help you establish a budget and the golf pro can help find the right clubs for you.
“When it comes to pre-owned equipment, there are several things consumers are most conscious about, but the top three would include price, condition, and age of technology,” Hunt says. And price usually depends on age and condition. Newer clubs with more up-to-date technology will command higher prices, while previous season models tend to be priced lower.
“Consumers typically look for last year’s model used clubs so they can still get something with newer technology to upgrade his/her game but also to see savings when it comes to comparing pricing of current in-line model year products,” Hunt says.
If cost is a factor—and it usually is—prior generation clubs might be the way to get started in the game without wrecking your budget.
“There is no set number of years that act as a cutoff when it comes to finding something that will work for your game,” Hunt says. “As long as the clubs have no dents or visible cracks, you should expect them to still be able to perform.
“Will you be sacrificing possibly some distance and forgiveness with previous season clubs that don’t have the same technology as those introduced in the past few years? Maybe. But there are clubs out there for everyone. 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 best served by investing in a club fitting session, which will help determine things you need, like shaft flex, lie angle and grip size. GlobalGolf.com has an online tool called USelect that allows you to answer a few questions and get matched with the products best suited to your game. You can also have a more in-depth fitting experience in person where a club fitter can measure lie, loft, attack angle, swing speed and more.
Keep in mind you’re not necessarily obliged to buy clubs from the person who does your fitting. If you choose not to, you will likely be charged a fitting fee. Factor that price into your total cost. You’ll come away with your personal club specifications that you can take to any store that can take the pre-owned clubs you purchase and adjust them to fit you.
Shaft flex is the biggest variable when it comes to getting the right clubs for you. And that’s largely determined by the speed at which you swing the club. If you have a club fitting session, the fitter 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 prepare to spend on pre-owned equipment?
Hunt says that newer model year clubs will command a higher price regardless of the condition compared to clubs that may be five or more years old and still in great condition. The demand for certain popular selling models or shafts can also affect the price to expect from a used club.
“For example, a new driver released this year will usually range from $500-$600, whereas a used driver from the most recent previous season, that is still in good overall shape, is likely to be in the $300-$400 range,” he says. “A driver from two to five years ago is likely to be more in the $150-$250 range.
“If you’re seeking more recent technology to fill out your bag, one can expect to spend between $1,000-$2,000 total for a driver, fairway woods, iron set, wedges, and a putter depending on how recent you want your clubs to be .”
At first glance, that looks expensive but when compared to new clubs, it’s still a bargain. Golf is the game for a lifetime and your pre-owned equipment investment should last you a long while. That is, until you get better at the game and decide you need newer equipment to reflect your newfound improvement. That’s when you’ll know golf has you hooked.