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The Used Gear Buyers Guide

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It’s new gear season, and soon it will be time for testing and getting your clubs set for 2020.

But not everyone in is a position to purchase the latest and greatest, and thanks to modern golf technology and access to used equipment, you can upgrade your set for a lot less than you might imagine. But before dropping hundreds of dollars on clubs there are a few things to pay close attention to, to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck, and save you from spending more money down the line to fix costly purchasing mistakes.

This is the Used Gears Buyers Guide.

Buy Reputable: This one is by far the most important and the most obvious. Plenty of unscrupulous individuals are looking to make a fast buck off of golfers looking for a deal. Although you can’t always inspect clubs in person some of the most obvious signs of counterfeit golf clubs are

  • Shafts installed with the shaft bands (logoed stickers) facing up. There isn’t an OEM on the market that builds clubs this way and it’s your first sign that something isn’t right.
  • Contact points are a big giveaway. If grip smells like really cheap rubber or solvent, or the headcover (if it comes with one) feels light or flimsy, walk away. Counterfeiters sink most of the cost in trying to replicate the head and if the other components seem off, it’s not worth it.

Check the Lengths (irons): I bring this one up because even as an experienced used club buyer, I have on a couple of occasions been so excited by the deal I was about to get I didn’t ask to check the lengths of the iron sets I was looking at. If you know your spec, whether it be longer or shorter, it’s good to know what you are getting into since either one could result in additional cost. It only takes a few moments to get them checked and it could save you a lot of issues down the line.

Lie and Loft Measuring Machine

Specs and Construction (irons): Club lies and lofts are easy to change depending on the construction of the head. Many modern game-improvement clubs, for example, are cast from harder materials which through other design parameters lead to more ball speed. The byproduct of this is they are more difficult to bend and as a result, heads are manufactured in both upright and flat configurations—great for “from the factory” builds, but harder to customize in the second-hand market. If you are looking at cast or multi-material heads be sure to get them checked.

A forged wedge bent to 0-degree lie and loft ( just for show )

Single piece forged irons, on the other hand, are generally much easier to adjust (up to four degrees in any direction) but it’s still a good idea to have them checked so you know what you are getting into.

Grips: Grips are the only true connection (besides emotionally!) between you and your golf clubs, which is why it’s vital that they are both the right size and offer your preferred texture. In the case of buying used clubs, you can get everything you want spec-wise, but if you don’t like the grips, it’s just not going to feel right.

Luckily for us, grips are one of the easiest and most affordable components to change, and if everything else is ready to go, a new set of grips can make an older set of clubs feel like new again.

 

 

 

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Roejye

    Mar 27, 2020 at 12:40 am

    Thank you for posting this. I replaced every club in my bag this year, minus the 3 hybrid,and they are all 2nd hand clubs. I’ve gotten quite lucky with some great deals especially my irons, grips are in excellent condition, length and lie seem to be right on for me. I got everything from the clearance bin at a store that I trust.

  2. ctmanic

    Mar 23, 2020 at 11:36 am

    Good article!A few years ago. I was interested in a set of Ping Rapture V2 irons. They had a pretty worn serial number on em. I thought I could read em in person, but when I got there I couldn’t and further, I could “feel” that they weren’t right. Head was all wrong, and looking closer the cavity design was garbage.. Total fakes. The guy pleaded saying he didn’t think so, etc etc. Then called me as I drove away, offering them for half price. No thanks mate….

    My clubs are mostly 2nd hand now, and I love it ta bits!

  3. C

    Mar 22, 2020 at 6:37 am

    I have been looking for that picture of the Mizuno flat wedge head for over a year. Thanks!

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Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play

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I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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