Need a new set of golf clubs? Maybe not.
Because by buying a set of used golf clubs, you’ll save yourself a wedge of cash, and get a lot more “club for your money”. And hey, who doesn’t love a bargain?
Here’s everything you need to know about buying used golf clubs.
In summary: should you buy used golf clubs?
Before we explore the advantages (and potential disadvantages) of buying second hand clubs in detail, let’s start with a summary:
For most golfers — particularly those on a budget — buying used golf clubs is a good choice. And generally a used set of higher end clubs (in good condition) will be better than a brand new set of lower quality clubs at the same price point.
And even if we discount lower end brands, if you’re not hung-up on the absolute latest tech (which let’s face it, is often a marketing gimmick) by going for a model that’s a few generations old you’ll be able to save yourself a hefty amount of cash.
For example, you’ll be able to pick up a used set of “very good condition” Ping G irons (2016) for less than half the price of the recently launched Ping G425. Sure, the Ping G425 will be that little bit more forgiving, and perhaps a touch longer, but the G series irons were great clubs at the time, and nothing has changed in the intervening 4 years — they’re still great clubs.
Of course, with that being said, “used” is a pretty broad term. And if you end up buying a set of golf clubs that are falling apart, then it doesn’t matter what the label is: they’ll be about as much use on the golf course as a tennis racket.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to avoid buying a lemon. While public marketplaces such as eBay need a little caution (although can also offer up some great deals) there are a number of reputable dealers who specialize in used golf clubs. They’ll quality check the clubs for you, reject the dross, and give you your money back if you’re not completely happy. We’ll be covering all the places you should (and shouldn’t) buy used golf clubs later in this guide.
But first, let’s go into more detail on the advantages of buying second hand.
How much can you save by buying used golf clubs?
There’s no point going through a list of the advantages of buying used golf clubs. Because let’s face it, in reality, that “list” would be one item:
You’ll get more golf club for your money.
So how much cash can you actually save by buying second hand? The cop out answer is “it depends”, because a used golf club could be 1 year old, it could be 5 years old, or it could be 20 years old. In fact, it might even be a latest model that’s only been hit half a dozen times in the showroom.
But we don’t like “it depends” as an answer. We wanted something a little more scientific than that. So we did the following:
- Collected the MSRP of the latest irons and drivers from Ping, Callaway, and TaylorMade
- Worked out the average cost of used alternatives in “like new” or “very good” condition for equivalent models released between 2015 and 2019.
Here’s what we discovered for irons:
|Irons||Year||Condition||MSRP / Average Price||Saving|
Note: Average used price for “like new” or “very good” across eBay, Global Golf, 2nd Swing, Callaway Preowned (where available)
By going back just one generation on irons, you’ll save between 15.58% (Ping) and 37.23% (Callaway). And by going back two generations, you’ll save between 35.31% (Ping) and 49.73% (Callaway).
From the above, it would appear that Ping irons have held their value a little better than TaylorMade and Callaway. Although this may be due to the fact that:
- a) Ping G425 has literally just been released (expect the price on used G400 to dip soon)
- b) The changes in Ping’s models have been more evolutionary than revolutionary
The 45%+ saving on TaylorMade M4 irons is also notable considering they were only released in 2018.
Now let’s take a look at what we discovered for used drivers:
|Driver||Year||Condition||MSRP / Average Price||Saving|
So by going back just one generation on Callaway and TaylorMade drivers you’ll be able to save around 50%.
Again, as the Ping G425 is so new, we’d expect the used price on the G410 to drop over the next few months, so the comparison is perhaps a little unfair. But at the time of publishing, you’ll save 35.2% by buying a second generation Ping driver.
It certainly seems that drivers depreciate faster than irons. Which probably makes sense as that’s where a lot of the marketing budget goes from the golf brands. Every new driver is straighter, faster, and longer. And who wants a TaylorMade M6 driver when the SIM goes 2 yards further?
Me. I’ll take one please. Given the choice of 2 extra yards or $250+ remaining in my pocket, I’ll take the $250 every day of the week.
Of course we only went back two generations. And the further back you go, the more money you’ll save.
But while it can be argued that improvements between individual generations of clubs are incremental, skip back a few and you’ll definitely notice a difference.
In other words, you won’t notice much performance difference between a Ping G425 (2021) and a 2017 Ping G400 (although it is there). But compare a Ping G425 and a G30 (2014) and the performance difference will be more stark.
Sidenote: The Ping G30 was a great driver… I still game this fairway finder from time to time.
Bottom line: buying used golf clubs will save you a load of cash, and even going back just one generation can save you up to 37% on irons and 52% on drivers.
Considerations when buying used golf clubs (and disadvantages)
Ok, buying used golf clubs is not all sunshine and roses. Let’s look at some of the potential drawbacks.
1. You’re missing out on a custom fit
At the end of the day, a used golf club is a used golf club.
Which means that it’s been fitted for someone else, not for you.
How much does this matter? It probably depends on your skill level to an extent. If you’re a higher handicapper you might be reasonably happy with standard lie angles, lengths, and shafts.
A lower handicap player may be a little more discerning, and notice the difference with a set of irons that’s been custom fit to their swing.
But in saying that, if you’re a lower handicap player that knows what they want, you’ll probably find a used set that matches up to your specs anyway.
Our opinion? If you’re in doubt about what you need, then go for as “standard” as possible. You can always get lies (and indeed lengths) adjusted later.
But that does bring us on to the next point…
2. Are you going to have to spend money on regripping etc?
Used golf clubs are similar to used cars to a degree, and you do get what you pay for.
When doing our research on how much you’re likely to save buying used clubs, we focused on “like new” and “very good” condition. That’s because they’re likely to have either new grips, or at least grips that still have a fair bit of life in them.
If you end up having to regrip all your clubs you could easily spend over $100. Which is a bit like buying a used car with worn tyres. It’s a false economy.
New grips and lie angles adjusted, and you’d probably have been better buying new…
3. Pay extra attention to the condition of wedges
When you’re buying a set of used clubs there’s going to be a bit of wear on the grooves. It’s just what happens to a golf club over time.
But while ‘a bit’ is fine, ‘a lot’ is going to start affecting spin. And this is a particular concern when buying a second hand wedge as you’re going to need that spin to get proper check on the greens.
So if you’re buying a used wedge pay attention to the condition of the face. If the grooves are excessively worn, you’ll probably want to skip it. Sure you can try and sharpen them, but they’re never going to perform quite the same (and again, you’re getting into additional cost).
Of course, while it’s especially important in wedges, you’ll want to avoid excessive wear in irons too. Holding the green is just as important from 150 yards as it is from inside 100.
4. You’re missing out on the latest tech
Most of the time this won’t be a deal breaker. But at the end of the day, golf club tech does advance each year.
And even if a lot of that advance might be more hype than science, there’s no doubt that a golf club from a 2021 lineup is a better club than one that’s 10 years old.
Generally a new club is going to be more forgiving, easier to hit, and will probably fly a little further.
And since most of us need all the help we can get on the course, using old tech does put you at somewhat of a disadvantage.
Which is why we’d generally recommend going for a used club that’s 2 or 3 generations old max — after that you will start to notice a difference.
And of course, generally the older the club is, the poorer condition it’s likely to be in. Although that’s not always the case.
5. Watch out for fake golf clubs
Unfortunately fake golf clubs are out there.
By buying from a reputable used club dealer, you’ll be able to mitigate the risk.
But as a rule of thumb, if a deal looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
Where to buy used golf clubs
Ready to buy a set of used golf clubs?
Below we’ve listed 5 of the best places to buy preowned golf clubs online. The first 3 are dealers, who will quality check clubs, and offer guarantees and returns. But we’ve also listed 2 of the best marketplaces — which have some great deals, but we’d recommend taking a little extra care.
1. Callaway Preowned
Callaway Preowned is owned and operated by Callaway Golf, and if you’re a Callaway fan it would be our first port of call.
But while they mainly list used Callaway clubs, they also have a selection of clubs from other brands available.
Callaway quality check every club listed on the site, and also offer 15 days to evaluate and return. If you’re not completely happy, you can return the club(s) to Callaway for a full refund.
For more expensive purchases, financing is available, and they’ll also let you trade in your old clubs.
2. Global Golf
Global Golf is one of the biggest dealers of used golf clubs on the web.
They’ve been dealing in second hand clubs for 20 years, are based in Raleigh, N.C., and literally have tens of thousands of used golf clubs in stock from all the leading brands.
Like Callaway, they offer financing on more expensive purchases, and they have a 60 days returns window.
3. 2nd Swing
2nd Swing is another huge dealer which specializes in used golf clubs.
At the time of publishing they have a whopping 78,064 used golf clubs in stock.
They offer a 30 day period to evaluate and return used clubs if you are not completely happy.
4. GolfWRX classifieds forum
GolfWRX is one of the biggest golf communities on the web, and they have an active classifieds forum, which allows members (with over 75 posts) to list golf clubs for sale.
This is of course a public marketplace, so caution is advised. But most listings will include detailed photographs of the clubs to allow you to evaluate the condition, and members can ask the seller questions either publicly or via private message.
They also have an eBay like feedback system, which helps identify trusted sellers.
Click here to go to GolfWRX classifieds forum (registration required)
Finally, we’ve got eBay.
No need for us to go into detail, we’re sure you’ve used eBay before. There are a huge selection of used golf clubs available, and a ton of great deals to be had.
But we’d probably advise the most caution when buying second hand golf clubs from eBay. Look closely at seller’s feedback, and as we said before… if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Buying used golf clubs is a great way to save money, and there’s a certain thrill to be hand when you unearth a bargain.
We’ve bought plenty of used clubs over the years, and most of the time we’ve been happy with our purchases.
For more expensive items (i.e. full iron sets or drivers) we’d recommend sticking to trusted dealers such as Callaway Preowned and Global Golf. That way you know the clubs have been quality checked, and you’ll be able to return them if you’re not completely happy.
But if you’re someone who loves sniffing out a bargain on eBay, then there are a ton of great deals to be had (just exercise a little more caution).
Good luck finding your new (old) clubs. And if you have any questions, just drop us a comment below.