Purchasing used or old demo golf clubs can be a smart way to shop on a budget.
However, whether you are picking clubs up on eBay, Craigslist, or a local garage sale you will not have the buyer protection and warranty that comes with a brand-new club purchase.
To help, we have created this guide to help you make the best possible purchasing decisions.
Probably the most important thing to look for is damage. Unfortunately, not all damage is readily apparent. A carbon fiber crown could have a hairline fracture that is nearly invisible. Luckily, most common damages leave some apparent signs. Here are some things to focus and look at.
1. Double check all weights, inserts, etc are included
2. Look for dents on the head especially on drivers and fairways
3. Check for loose hosels (ball marks on hosels can also be a sign of improper use)
4. Inspect the crown on drivers and fairways (paint chips/cracks can often be signs of more extensive damage)
5. Inspect for bent for cracked shafts
6. The leading edge of irons and wedges often are often the most damaged
Wear and Use
Not all used clubs are equal. Some clubs wear faster than others. Some clubs are also usually better to buy new (like wedges). Here are some things to look for though in terms of wear and use.
1. Wedges rely heavily on the friction of the face. If a wedge face is too worn its probably best to move on. Wedges are probably the best club to buy new so unless its in great shape it would be hard to recommend.
2. Dents or scratches on a putter face can lead to inconsistent putts. Therefore, dents and scratches on the crown and other places of the head are less problematic.
3. Check the grips. Getting a club regripped is not a huge expense but it can add up if you are needing to regrip an entire set of irons for example. Hold the grip in your hands. Some modern grips do not visibly show wear like old wraps did.
4. Paint and finishes wearing off the leading edge of woods is completely acceptable. Do not be discouraged. Purchasing a club with some minor aesthetic scars is usually the best way to get a good deal.
The age of a club can be an important purchasing factor as well. How far back should you really go? What types of clubs should you not purchase if they are old? Here are some general rules and tips to follow
1. Irons often last a long time. Modern irons have better perimeter weighting compared to older models. This makes them typically more forgiving. However, picking up a set irons that came out within the past decade or two is a great place to start
2. Putters are the longest lasting club in your bag. If you golf well with a wooden putter, then use that! There is no limit to how old a putter can be to be successful.
3. Wedges like we have already covered are not typically the best club to purchase used. The condition of the grooves is vital to their performance. Even just natural wear and age will drastically reduce spin rates over time.
4. Fairways and Drivers have made large strides in recent time. Better understandings of materials and MOI have led to drastically more consistent and forgiving woods. Therefore, purchasing a driver or fairway that was made in the last decade is highly recommended. If it is within the last 5 years that is even better!