Evaluating Used Golf Clubs

Thinking of buying used golf clubs? It's really not a bad idea for beginners. Since you don't yet know the strengths and weaknesses of your game, it doesn't make sense to invest in brand new, high-end clubs that might be all wrong for you in a year.

Golf clubs show signs of wear over time, so if you're buying used, it's important to know how to spot those signs. Some wear can radically alter the way golf clubs perform, giving you a false sense of how good the clubs are when they're new.

See Them, Feel Them, Touch Them
A great many sets of used golf clubs can be found on various online auction and trading sites. While there is certainly great appeal to buying without leaving your bedroom, there is a downside in that you can't touch the equipment and evaluate its condition. As a rule of thumb, don't buy used golf clubs unless you can inspect them in person. What someone calls "near mint" on eBay could be what someone else calls "ready for the trash barrel."

Compare Prices
Know what a set of clubs costs (or cost) when it was new. This is much easier for newer sets. There's no Kelly Blue Book for golf club prices, but knowing what you'd pay at retail for a new set of clubs will let you know if you're getting a deal on used golf clubs. If the asking price is unreasonably low, find out why. It could be that the current owner has new clubs or simply doesn't want to play anymore. It could also be because they were pulled out of a house fire.

Make Sure They Match
Inspect every club in a set to be sure they all match. Look for the brand and the time of manufacture. Check the ferrules; in a set, they should all match very closely. Woods should have identifying marks on the bottom and irons should have marks on the back of the head. Be sure that each club is unique; you don't want two 9 irons and no 7 iron.

Examine the Shafts
Graphite shafts tend to wear out over time, the victims of tiny nicks, dents and scratches. Believe it or not, this can negatively impact the clubs' effectiveness, because it impacts their flex. You can test the flex by putting one hand on the grip and one on the head and twisting in opposite directions. Too much give and the shafts are no good.

Steel shafts should be checked for straightness. Hold the shaft straight in front of you and just below eye level, sighting down its length toward the head. It should be perfectly straight, with no bends to the left or right. Rotate it completely to be sure. Even a slight bend is enough to alter the club's performance. There should be no rust, and watch for signs that the shaft has been bent back into shape, which may appear as tool gouges or slight folds in the metal.

Examine the Heads of Used Golf Clubs
Clubs that have been overused will have a shiny, worn spot in or near the center from contact with the ball. Pass these clubs up. Inspect the grooves for well-defined edges and a uniform depth from edge to edge. Avoid clubs with shallow or uneven grooves or dents in their faces. These kinds of wear have a negative effect on how far the ball travels and may cause you to hook or slice.

Check the Grips
You can always have clubs re-gripped, so wear in this area shouldn't be a deal-breaker. Grips can, however, tell you a lot about how well clubs have been maintained. If they're cracked, cut or severely worn, that could be a tipoff that there's extreme wear to other parts of the clubs.

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