Used golf clubs are a good option for any golfers on a budget and golfers who don't get to play much. But they are especially good for new golfers. Why spend a ton of money on clubs when you're not certain yet how well you'll play or whether you'll stick with it? Here are some tips on things to look for when shopping for used golf clubs.
Check the Clubheads
Clubface wear is what you're looking for. Clubs that have been used for a long time might have a shiny worn spot right in the center. You don't want these because the clubface won't hold the ball as well. Make sure the grooves still have well defined edges. Stay away from clubs that show indentations in the clubface. These can affect the ball flight.
And for woods, especially those constructed with a material other than steel, look out for any dents in the crown or around the perimeter of the clubhead.
Check the Shafts
Make sure graphite shafts don't have worn areas or indentations; these are signs of potential weakness that could lead to breakage. Test the torque by twisting the grip and head in opposite directions. If there isn't great resistance, it's a sign of weakness. For steel shafts, look down the shaft to make sure it hasn't been bent back into shape. Make sure all shafts in a set are the same so the clubs feel similar from shot to shot.
Check the Grips
Look for cracks, splits and worn areas in the grip. Make sure you won't have to immediately re-grip the clubs. If you buy used clubs that need re-gripping, you're adding anywhere from (approximately) $6 to $15 per club to your costs.
Check Set Consistency
Line up the clubs in order and compare the clubs throughout the set. Make sure they all appear to have been in the original set. You don't want a set that has different shaft types or models from club to club, or where there is not a normal progression of lengths from club to club. Mixing and matching can also throw off the progression of lofts throughout the set.
Check Current Prices for New Clubs of the Same Model
Sometimes you can find a brand new set of clubs for less than what that set is selling for used. How does this happen? Say someone buys a set and decides to sell it a year or two later. The set may be in great shape and can justifiably be priced high. But in the meantime, the manufacturer may have steeply discounted new sets due to high inventory, discontinued production or numerous other reasons.
Ask to Demo the Clubs
You can't really tell how well the clubs will perform unless you take them out for a few swings. Even at a garage sale, you should be allowed to at least make a few swings in the front yard (take some wiffle balls with you if you are garage sale shopping). Any retail shop should allow you to demo the clubs using real balls. If they won't, ask yourself why that might be.
And a Few More Things ...
On metal woods, alloy or "multi-material" heads (titanium, carbon fiber crowns, etc.) are more susceptible to the effects of play and aging than steel heads. Make sure the crown isn't dented or doesn't appear painted over (which might have been done to conceal a problem). Also, when buying used, stick to brand names that you recognize. Lesser known brands aren't necessarily worse clubs when bought used than bigger brands (and can actually be better buys), but you don't want to buy a brand you've never heard of only to discover later it's a cheap clone or knockoff set.