There are plenty of opinions when it comes to buying golf gear online – what to do, what not to do, where to buy, where not to buy, etc. The buying tips in this section are a combination of my personal experiences, feedback in golf forums and research. I hope (and expect) that they’ll be something in here to help you get what you want for the right price, with as little hassle as possible.
GET THE BEST PRICE
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get the best price is to shop around….very easy to do on the internet. Also, don’t be afraid to ask an online store to price match, particularly on big ticket items such as full sets and new drivers.
Here are some other ways to save:
PRICE COMPARISON SITES
You can look around online for the best price, or take the lazy way out and use price comparison sites. On these sites, you enter the details of the golf club(s) you’re looking to buy and they’ll return a list of online stores selling it, with the price. It’s not always easy to know whether you’re comparing apples with apples, so these sites are often just a good starting point to narrow your options.
Here are a few of the better ones, all of which also include equipment sold through Amazon and eBay:
Many, if not most, online golf stores let you (beg you to!) sign-up to a regular newsletter. While you don’t want your inbox filled with junk mail, if you’re selective you can get some good discounts and special offers.
I signed up for The Golf Warehouse newsletter and was impressed with the value and frequency of their discount offers, including free shipping.
Most online golf stores offer discount coupons from time to time (or all the time). Usually % off or free shipping. There are a few ways to take advantage of these coupons:
o Visit Coupon Sites: there are a few sites that provide a list of all online stores offering discounts through the use of online coupons. Monkeybargains is one such site where you can find coupon codes for discounts or free shipping for many online golf stores (inc. Austads, Pinemeadow, Callaway, The Golf Warehouse and TaylorMade).
o Use Google: you could find the golf gear you want online, but before ordering, go to Google and enter the seller’s website with the word “coupon” or “promotional code”. You may be able to get a discount on your purchase or shipping costs, or both
CASH BACK OFFERS
There are websites that give you cash back on purchases from quite a few online golf stores. The basic model is that these websites send customers to online golf stores and receive a commission for doing so. Instead of keeping the whole commission, they share it with you (the buyer) in the form of cash back. It depends on the program, but you’ll usually receive the cash back by check at certain intervals, eg monthly. The cash back isn’t huge, usually between 3%-8%, but better than nothing!
Here are a couple of programs you might want to look at:
o ebates.com – includes Edwin Watts Golf, Pinemeadow Golf, Golfsmith and Golf Outlet USA
o bing.com/shopping – BING is a fairly new search engine by Microsoft, which includes a cash back program. Cashback percentage looks to be a little higher than other programs. For example, you can get 12% cash back at Golfsmith. Other online golf stores that are part of this program include Callaway Pre-Owned and Golfballs.com
GET SOMEONE ELSE’S OPINION
Before you ‘proceed to checkout’ on your new set of clubs, take some time to read equipment reviews online. There are plenty of sites offering reviews on golf clubs, and some of them are actually objective! I prefer the reviews from not only industry experts, but actual golfers who have bought and used the clubs. Golf forums (such as those mentioned above) are a good place for straight-talking views on golf clubs. Here are some sites that are worth checking out:
o Golf Review – lots of reviews/comments from golfers who have bought and are playing with the clubs
o Golf Magic – good section on equipment reviews, with feedback from industry experts as well as forum members
o Golfalot – excellent range of golf club reviews, many with video reviews as well
o Golf WRX – a forum section dedicated to equipment reviews. Educated, honest and independent views
GET THE RIGHT SET
Muscleback or Cavity back? Performance Improvement or Performance Enhancement? Before you start looking too closely at specific golf clubs it’s important to understand what type of irons are suitable for your game. There are two main categories of irons, ‘muscle back’ (game enhancement) and ‘cavity back’ (game improvement). They’re referred to by various other names but we’ll stick with these for now.
Muscleback irons are so-called because more weight is placed behind the sweet spot on the club. This produces a longer, straighter ball trajectory if hit in the center of the club, ie the sweet spot. Because most of the weight is centered around the sweet spot, shots that aren’t hit pure are difficult to hide…..they’ll be shorter and with an unpredictable trajectory. Muscleback irons are more suited to lower handicap golfers, who can take advantage of the greater feel and workability of the irons.
Cavity Back Irons
Cavity back irons are just that, there is a cavity behind the center of the club, rather than the mass associated with the muscle back irons. This design distributes weight around the perimeter of the head, producing a larger sweet spot and therefore greater margin for error. Off-center shots are more forgiving, producing a longer, straighter ball flight than off-center shots hit with a muscle back iron. Cavity back irons are more suited to middle/high handicappers, who are looking for more consistent results from their shots, rather than being able to work the ball.
If you’re a single figure handicapper you may want to consider muscle back irons. However, consider this…….slightly more than half of the pros on the USPGA tour use cavity back clubs. Sure, they’re custom made to suit their game, but there are relatively few pros who feel the muscle back is better for their game. If you’re on the fence, you should probably take a set of each out for a test run! Alternatively, you could look for a set of irons that are a cross between the muscle back and cavity back – the Titleist Forged 695CB is such a club that has the feel of a muscle back with some of the forgiveness of the cavity back…..it’s had some good reviews as well.
GET THE RIGHT FIT
Some people wouldn’t even consider buying golf clubs anywhere else but in a retail store, where you can get properly fitted. I can understand this view, it’s very important to get clubs that are right for you. That’s not necessarily easy to do when you are buying online…..how do you make sure that you get the right shaft length, shaft flex, lie angle, grip size, etc?
Club fitting is probably one of the biggest barriers to people buying golf clubs online, so it’s not surprising that online stores are investing in the technology to make online fitting possible.
Here are a handful of stores with online fitting systems……expect others to follow:
o PING Web-Fit – shaft flex, shaft length, grip size but NOT lie angle
o Golfsmith SmartFit – shaft flex, shaft length, grip size AND lie angle
o GigaGolf eFit- shaft flex, shaft length, grip size AND lie angle
o The Golf Warehouse – provides online fitting for some brands/models only
o Odyssey Putter Fitting Tool
GET THE GENUINE ARTICLE
One of the biggest issues with buying golf equipment online, particularly golf clubs, is counterfeit equipment originating primarily from China.
eBay is notorious for selling counterfeit equipment and is the place to exercise the most caution. I wrote an article at foundgolf.com about avoiding eBay scams, so I won’t go into too much detail here.
Here are a few general tips:
o Buy only from large, well-known online stores
o Use golf forums to ask for advice if you’re concerned about the authenticity of something. GolfWRX.com has a forum section called ‘deal or no deal’ specifically for helping people figure out whether something is real or fake
o Don’t just buy new equipment from eBay, there are plenty of alternatives online
o Reconsider buying used on eBay – there are also plenty of online stores selling used equipment, with warranties and a returns policy
o Check out the manufacturer’s website for information about the counterfeit activity. Some provide tips on what to look for when buying their equipment online
GET THE RIGHT TERMS
While price is important, there are other factors to consider when buying golf equipment online.
Just because you’re shopping online doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t expect good customer service. Look for online stores that have a number you can call and/or email you can use to ask questions, etc. All of the larger stores will have people you can talk to, and you should expect to speak to competent and knowledgeable staff.
Make sure that the online store you’re buying from has a no questions asked returns policy. Online golf retailers are aware that many people aren’t comfortable with buying golf equipment online, so offer a ‘trial period’ (eg 7 days) during which you can return the equipment and get your money back. This gives you a chance to take the gear to the driving range and try it out. Some online stores will offer the money back only if the equipment is in original packaging. Look for the ones that allow you to try the gear and return it if you’re not satisfied.
Remember that you’ll have to wear the cost of shipping if you need to send the equipment back.
Even if your golf clubs are heavily discounted at an online golf store, the cost of shipping may negate any savings. It seems obvious, but many people think they’re getting a great deal until they get to the checkout and see the shipping costs. Look for special offers for discounted or free shipping and also consider buying from an online store that ships from your region.
BUYING USED GOLF CLUBS
Buying used golf clubs is not for everyone, the primary reasons being (1) that they were made for someone else, so aren’t going to be suitable for them, (2) they’re old technology, (3) there’s no warranty; and (4) there’s no returns policy.
These are valid concerns if you’re buying on eBay from your average seller, but there’s no reason why you can’t have the same piece of mind buying used as you would with new……..with a little effort and some common sense. Here are some tips for buying used clubs online:
Determine your measurements so that you can make sure you get clubs that fit you. Go to one of the websites mentioned above for an online fitting
Find out from the seller what length the clubs are, type of shaft, grip size and lie angle. If they can’t tell you, then don’t buy from them……unless you’re happy to take a punt on getting the right fit
Buy from an online store that has a formal inspection and rating structure for their used clubs. For example, Callaway Pre-Owned has separate ratings for the grip, shaft, face, sole and top of the club
Stay with the better-known manufacturers. Lesser known names aren’t necessarily worse clubs when used, but the craftsmanship that goes into, for example, Ping, should carry over to used clubs as well
Don’t assume that you can’t get a warranty or returns policy on used clubs. See Section 2 above for online stores that offer warranties and returns policies
Consider paying a little more for a piece of mind. You might get a better price on eBay, but consider the risks
Keep in mind that woods with alloy heads are more susceptible to aging than metal woods as the alloy is softer
Before you buy those used clubs, check how much they’re selling for new. Occasionally, it’s possible to pickup a new set for less than used as online retailers may heavily discount older stock……worth a quick check.
If you can’t, or don’t want to, buy a new set of brand name clubs I reckon buying used from a recognized online store is the next best thing. You’ll get similar terms to new clubs, and you can make sure that they’re the right fit.
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