The “Golden Age” of Used Equipment Shopping
By Rich Conforti, GolfWRX Contributor
Much like any other secondary market, the pre-owned golf equipment industry offers prospective buyers more options than ever before thanks to a full integration online. Golfers that are on a budget are presented with a great opportunity to obtain a well-kept set of sticks at a reasonable price.
This can be attributed to a combination of several factors.
First, manufacturers are releasing clubs with more frequency. Club technology is pushing forward faster than ever and because of this it sometimes doesn’t even take a full calendar year for a club that was once cutting edge to being the journey down the beaten path toward antiquation.
Look no further than TaylorMade, whose strong 2012 was highlighted by the release of the popular Rocketballz series of fairway woods, drivers and hybrids. The line, particularly the fairway woods, was lauded for its extra distance, with everyone from Justin Rose to the muni player seeing results from the new club. This year, TaylorMade released its new line of Rocketballz Stage 2 drivers, fairway woods and hybrids that address some of the minor issues that golfers had with last year’s model while expanding on some of the club’s strengths.
The RBZ Stage 2 is said to give golfers an additional 10 yards on top of the 17 that the original RBZ offered when compared to the company’s 2011 fairway woods. The additional distance comes from the RBZ Stage 2’s more low and forward CG, a new face material, a more versatile shape and a refined “speed pocket” than last year’s model. Aesthetically, the RBZ Stage 2 features the familiar white club head/black face combination but has a yellow/gray stripe as opposed to last year’s neon green design.
In addition to “turning over” clubs faster than ever before, manufacturers also offer golfers multiple releases per year. In 2012, Ping offered golfers a choice of three new driver options—the Anser, the G20, and the i20. From a quick look, the Anser and i20 seem to be a very similar product, with both offerings combining a matte black finish and low spin launch conditions. The Anser is slightly different from the i20, however, as it offers an adjustable hosel that allows golfers to change loft and shafts easily. This year, Ping has released its adjustable G25 driver, which will likely send many i20s, G20s and Anser drivers into the used market.
The final factor, and this one may seem to be a bit of a reach, does not involve equipment but rather, focuses on the participation of golfers. It’s no secret that statistics show, for whatever reason, a steady decline in golfers over recent years. While this is certainly troubling for golf on a grander scale, it also means that in theory there should be less of a demand for equipment (and used equipment) on the secondary markets.
Less competition for buying + more club options than ever = better deals.
Assisting the cause is a myriad of online retailers to go along with storefront golf shops (Golfsmith, Golf Galaxy, small shops) and classifieds such as the BST forums on this site.
First to mind is eBay, the standard bearer for all online trading. eBay offers golfers the largest selection of used equipment, with more than 150,000 used club listings at the time of publication. What makes eBay unique from other retailers is that it not only offers listings from golf shops like 2nd Swing or 3Balls but also from individuals looking to sell a single club or set without the assistance of a middleman.
From personal experiences (on both sides of this situation) it is in the latter of the two where the best deals can be found. Freed of the void of a less than spectacular trade in value from a merchant, prospective sellers are often inclined to offer clubs at a lower price than the retailers for the sake of a quick sale. This situation is a win for all involved—the seller will inevitably profit more then if they had accepted whatever trade-in value was offered to them and the buyer will get the club at a lower rate then what the retailers offer. Timing is key here.
Of course, when purchasing from smaller shops and individuals on eBay, the buyer increases the risk of the club not being “as advertised” in regards to quality and condition. While eBay does protect transactions through their dispute system and through PayPal protection, this is a hassle that all try to avoid.
Another potential issue lies in the fact that a desired club may not always be available at a price that is head and shoulders of the competition, thus bringing other online retailers back into the picture as options. Regardless, it is on eBay where one can consistently find the best deals on the web. Some examples later on will give a better idea of this.
Another site that is familiar to all in the GolfWRX community, 2ndSwing.com, has traveled down an interesting path to becoming the successful online retailer that it is today. Opened in 1997, in the days before the Internet became a fixture, the Minneapolis-based shop found success and over the next 10 years developed into a chain of 75 retailers. But in an April 2012 interview, owner Simon Kallal told Jeff Wieffering of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he was concerned that 2nd Swing had “strayed from its original mission,” as the retailer began to focus more on the sale of new equipment, a market dominated by the big box retailers.
As they continued to expand under the eye of a new group of investors, Kallal and the original ownership group was slowly pushed out. It seems to be of no coincidence that it was around this time the 2nd Swing reputation began to take a hit amongst avid equipment hunters particularly on these forums. A bankruptcy ensued and “2nd Swing 1.0” was no more.
By 2008, the 2nd Swing name was back in the hands of its founders, who had a bit of a different vision this time around. Not looking to get too expansive on the ground, “2nd Swing 2.0” features only two store front locations and a strong online focus. It wasn’t long before customers slowly came back and the perception of the retailer began to take a turn for the better.
2nd Swing boasts an impressive selection of “23,643 pre-swung clubs” ranging from traditional options to some pricier collectible items (which Global Golf, and 3Balls do not offer) including this offering for a mere $3,999.00 plus shipping. Too pricey for you? Maybe this is more in your range. Along with their impressive selection of collectible and tour issued equipment, 2nd Swing boasts the internet’s most impressive selection of products and options this side of eBay.
Another perk of 2nd Swing? Those fortunate enough to live near one its two storefront locations in Minnesota have the opportunity to demo the product before purchasing. It is one thing to demo a similar model, but there is a certain added comfort that goes along with taking the exact club you may purchase for a spin.
Joining 2ndSwing at the top of a Google search for “used golf equipment” are Global Golf and 3Balls. For what 3Balls lacks in selection it makes up for with strong pricing. In collaboration with eBay, 3balls created the well-known PGA Value Guide as a way to set the standard for pricing. Much like the Kelley Blue Book sets the price for secondary automobile sales, the PGA Value Guide strives to do the same for used golf equipment with the hope of creating a seamless secondary marketplace.
Global Golf, the top search result on Google for “used golf equipment,” has a selection and pricing that is more in line with those of 3Balls but still trailing far behind eBay’s best offerings.
While all four of these options offer players exceptional bargains, it is clear that eBay offers some prices that are head and shoulders above the rest. Yes, each person may have his or her own preference and a certain comfort level when selecting a retailer to purchase pre-owned equipment. That being said, there is no question that eBay remains the best opportunity for affordable prices on pre-swung golf equipment.
Check out the table for comparisons of recent deals on eBay, 2nd Swing, 3Balls and Global Golf:
|Club||Recent eBay SOLD||2nd Swing||3Balls||Global Golf|
|Taylor Made Rocketballz 3 Wood (stock stiff shaft, “good” condition or better||$85.99 ($16.00 shipping)||$129.99 + taxes ($12.99 shipping.)||$110.46 + taxes (free shipping)||$114.99 + taxes ($5.99 shipping)|
|Callaway Razr X Irons (stock shaft, “good” condition or better, 7 irons)||$210.00 (15.42 shipping)||$399.99 ($12.99 shipping) *6 irons||$264.15 (free shipping) *6 irons||$274.99 ($5.99 shipping) *6 irons|
|Titleist 910 D2 Driver (stock shaft “good” condition or better)||$99.99 ($9.99 shipping)||$219.99 ($12.99 shipping)||$161.46 (free shipping)||$189.99 ($5.99 shipping)|