Are Used Golf Clubs a Viable Option?

So you're in the market for new golf clubs... but there's a problem.

Your wallet sounds like Lee Corso on College Game Day: 

Not so fast, my friend!

What do you mean?  Well, consider the costs:

  • Drivers: $300-$499
  • Fairway Woods (2): $199-$299 each
  • Hybrids (2): $180-$250 each
  • Irons: $550-$1500 (set of 8)
  • Wedges (3): $120-$199 each
  • Putter: $120-$500

Best-case scenario, you're looking at about $2,000 for a brand new set of clubs!

Between all the house and family obligations, do you have that much to spend on golf clubs? 

If you said "yes", good on you!  But if you said "no", keep reading- where there's a will, there's a way!

Used Golf Clubs: The "New to You" Option

Look, there's nothing wrong with hitting up the used market when it comes to golf clubs.  We do it with cars, houses, and other big-ticket items.

Golf clubs can be treated the same way.

But how do you go about buying them?

When you're looking to buy used golf clubs, there are some things you should know before opening your wallet.

Getting the most bang for your buck

Before you go, there are two basic "rules" (well, guidelines) that you should know about the gear you're looking to buy:

For woods (especially drivers): you can go back five to six years and still have a club with plenty of technology in it.

used golf clubs: the driver

Older, but still lots of life in it!

In all honesty, you don't even need one with an adjustable hosel.  They're great for fitting, but once you have the loft set, there's no point fiddling with it.

As for surface wear, that's a matter of preference.  The more a club face looks like it's been hit, if there's paint missing from the crown, the more likely you'll get it for a good/lower price.  However, that doesn't mean you'll be getting something that's "worn out".

To be sure, see if you can contact the seller.  If the person had a 100+ mph swing, had the club for five or so years and used it on the course and practiced extensively, there's a risk there.  If they just used it and practiced when they could, there will definitely be more life there.

If you're really needing a discount, woods with dents on any place other than the face are still viable options... if you can get past the look.

For irons and wedges, you can go back even farther.  As in, a decade or so.  

Iron and wedge technology really hasn't changed so dramatically on a base level.  Yes, there are some that are more hollow and have a "springlike effect" similar to drivers, but really, irons and wedges are more about consistent, dependable distance- not potential distance.

Since these clubs are usually close in length, there's more chance for them to have "bag chatter"; little dings on the heads.  Most will be fine, though you'll want to stay away from the ones that have deep gouges.

One more thing to consider: the grooves.  Grooves aren't the key to spin (but here's what is); they definitely help, though.  When you're buying used golf clubs, especially irons and wedges, you can do a little test to see how much life your grooves have.

The Thumbnail Test

It's pretty easy to do.  Run your thumbnail across the face or your irons or wedges; you should hear an audible "click".  It looks like this:

thumbnail test for used golf clubs (irons and wedges)

If you don't hear anything, if there's no resistance, the grooves aren't going to be able to channel away the grass and gunk like they're supposed to.

Don't let that be a deal-breaker, though; there are plenty of groove sharpeners out there (like this one) that will fix them up pretty quickly.  It just takes a little extra elbow grease!

The Good Thing About Buying Used Golf Clubs

OK, if you've spent any amount of time on this site, you know I'm a big proponent of custom fitting.

I mean, that's the biggest thing I offer here!  

But when you're buying used golf clubs, you have something many people buying off-the-rack don't: getting a near-custom fit set of clubs!

wait, what?

Wait, what? Source

Hear me out: if you're looking around places like Ebay, you'll notice that you have thousands of options.  Lengths, lie angles, grips, etc.

How do you do know what to look for, though?

Use my free fitting form, which you can go to here.  Armed with that info, you can find the right length, flex, lie angles, whatever you need.  Just keep in mind that this might make the process take a little longer- but you'll have clubs that will definitely work for you and not against you!

On to you!

How do you go about buying golf clubs?  Do you prefer to shop used?  What's the oldest club in your bag?

About the Author

Justin Blair is the founder of Green Lantern Golf. When he isn't bringing his 10+ years of excellent craftsmanship experience to golf club fitting, building, and repair, he's geeking out about Star Wars (he's watched them all about 8,437 times!) and things like the MCU and LOTR, he's drinking mead and craft brews. If you wanna know more, check out my About Page!