We know that many of you are interested in picking up some second-hand clubs to save money but new golfers can be intimidated by all the equipment that’s out there and question if old clubs are actually any good.
There are so many different types of clubs, balls, shoes, bags, and other accessories that it can feel like a labyrinth to someone who is just starting out. It’s overwhelming to think about buying everything you need for the game.
Thankfully, almost anyone can pick up a set of golf clubs without spending too much money. Old used sets or gently used clubs can provide great value for someone just getting into the game. But are old golf clubs any good?
As someone who got back into the game over the last year and uses what would be considered very old clubs, I am going to pitch in here. I am not an expert but was fortunate enough to test a range of modern and older clubs before making a final decision on my set.
This post is not going to recommend specific clubs but rather comment on my findings from testing many clubs and ultimately purchasing a second-hand set to get back on the course!
Why Would You Buy Old Golf Clubs?
There are plenty of reasons to buy old golf clubs. Some of the most common include:
– You don’t have the budget – If you’re just getting started in the game, you might not have enough money to purchase a brand-new set of clubs. Buying an old set can help you get started without spending too much money.
This is one of the reasons that I began looking at second-hand clubs. I am a hobby golfer and spending thousands of dollars on a new set of clubs wasn’t an investment I wanted to make. However, having played before, I also wanted more than a beginner’s set that I would likely grow out of rather soon. The solution? Old golf clubs on the second-hand market.
– You’re looking for something special or something that means something to you– Many golfers will buy new clubs because they want the latest and greatest. But if you’re interested in a very specific type of club or set, you may have to go used.
I fell into this second category. As I stopped playing golf when I was a teenager, I actually wanted clubs more similar to what I had back then. I actually picked up the same 3 wood I used and couldn’t be happier to do so! It gives me a great sense of nostalgia.
How long do golf clubs last?
This is one of the questions I asked before committing to buying an older set.
It should go without saying that the condition of the clubs is very important. Very badly maintained clubs should not be considered as they will perform worse and are likely to break.
Well-maintained clubs, on the other hand, can last for decades. For example, check out this video of golf Youtuber, Rick Shiels, playing with 50-year-old golf clubs!
They don’t have to be as new but do check for wear on the face, shaft, and grips. (grips can be replaced for around 15 USD a stick but it all adds up if you are on a budget). As I will mention later, I was lucky to find old clubs in great condition. I would recommend aiming to do the same.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the differences between new and old clubs in terms of irons and woods.
Is There A Difference Between Old Golf Clubs And New Ones?
In short, yes. However, these differences may not be something you care about.
Golf clubs made today are different than clubs made in the past.
You may have heard stories about people who used clubs from the ‘50s and ‘60s and hit the ball farther than modern players. Well, those stories are mostly false. That being said, you can’t buy a game. Modern clubs aimed at average golfers are designed to make the game easier. They don’t make it easy!
Also, keep in mind that way back in the early 90s and even before, great players played great golf with what are now very old clubs. Average golfers played golf just fine without the modern technology we have today! The human body hasn’t changed much nor have golf courses, at least for hobby golfers like me and probably you.
Anway with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the differences between irons and woods in more detail.
The biggest difference between old and new irons is the technology used to make them but this is most evident in the beginner or game improvement segment. Modern irons are made from more advanced materials and are designed with more precision.
Generally, they have a lower center of gravity, weaker lofts, and a larger ‘sweet spot’ which makes for longer, more forgiving clubs. That is if you happen to make a bad swing, which you will do a lot as a beginner, modern clubs will still go a good distance and won’t go as far off target as older clubs might.
That being said, these differences are most pronounced at the beginner end of the golf club market. Many professionals tend to use bladed irons for example. These are less forgiving clubs that offer less forgiveness and usually less distance but more precision for those who know how to use them. Because these clubs have small clubheads, the advancements in technology have been limited. It should also be noted that ‘good players’ or players that can hit blades consistently don’t want the clubs to change a lot.
If you want optimal forgiveness and maximum distance from your irons, you may want to look at a modern or even new set. However, if, like me, you are concerned about improving your ball striking and value how they feel, an older set will provide great value for you.
Woods and Drivers
In my opinion, the biggest difference between old and new golf clubs is the woods and drivers.
These golf clubs are the most important because they’re what will be doing most of the work for you. The reason these clubs are so different is because of their size.
The biggest technological advancement in golf was driver design. In the past, all drivers had small heads relative to those of today. This means drivers from different eras hit the ball slightly differently.
Today’s drivers are made from advanced materials and have a better head design than older models. This means they can fly further and straighter. They are also more forgiving of off-center strikes than older drivers.
However, modern drivers are incredibly expensive. A driver will likely be the most expensive club in your bag. You have to ask yourself if, as a hobby golfer, it is really worth the price.
Similar to irons, if you can strike a ball well, an old driver will still give you good results. Yes, you will lose some distance but honestly, if you are just getting into golf, you shouldn’t be worried about 10 or 15 yards.
For reference, here is a video of a good golfer comparing a driver from 2021 and one from way back in 1997. Is there a difference, yes. Is it worth spending hundreds and hundreds more dollars on one club? I don’t think so.
In Summary: Things to Know Before Buying Old Golf Clubs
– Modern clubs aimed at amateurs are designed with more distance in mind than older clubs. If you buy used clubs that are a few decades old, you may not be able to hit the ball as far.
– Older clubs will generally have less forgiveness. If you want to make the game as easy as possible, you may be better off with a modern set.
– If you buy a used set of clubs, you may want to replace the grips and this can add up. New grips can make a big difference in how the clubs feel in your hands and how steady your grip is.
– While badly-maintained clubs can have issues, golf clubs are generally fairly durable and if well-maintained can last decades.
How Can I Find Old Golf Clubs?
If you’re looking for old golf clubs, you have a few different ways to find them. Begin by checking out thrift stores or garage sales in your neighborhood. You’re likely to find old golf clubs at these places.
You may also find old clubs at your local pro shop.
You can also shop online, but be sure to check the seller’s reviews and be wary of scams. As you’re browsing the market for used clubs, keep the above facts in mind. You want to make sure you’re picking out clubs that are in good shape and can help you improve as a golfer.
There are some dedicated second golf sites that are well-reviewed such as golfbidder.co.uk in the UK and www.2ndswing.com in the USA.
You could also check out eBay and Craigslist. Make sure you use caution when shopping on these sites, and make sure you read the reviews on sellers.
So what did I end up getting?
You’re probably wondering what I chose at this stage. Well, I will of course tell you. However, keep in mind that I chose this set for me after a lot of testing and research. You may prefer something completely different.
Also, as I live in South East Asia at the moment, there is a much smaller market for second-hand golf clubs and most of the clubs I purchased were found in the second-hand section of local golf stores or on Facebook marketplace.
After almost buying a set of Mizuno JPX 900 Pro irons (5-PW), I opted to buy a set of Bridgestone Precept irons from 4-SW.
To me, they had more feel and I wanted to have a four iron in my set. So far, I couldn’t ask for more and have been really enjoying hitting balls with these irons. They are less forgiving and give shorter results (about 1 club shorter) than the modern irons I tested but I absolutely love hitting them and feel in control of the ball flight (which I don’t with a lot of modern high handicapper irons).
I am not sure when these irons were released but as far as I can tell, they date back to at least the early 00s.
These weren’t the cheapest costing about 220 USD but are in great condition. The longer irons look as good as new!
Driver and Woods
As a hobby golfer, I really didn’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars on woods or a driver so I ended up going with something very old. I picked up a Callaway War Bird 3 Wood and Callaway War Bird 5 Wood.
These are very old clubs (1995, I believe) but are in good condition and so far are going really well for me. So much so that I haven’t yet picked up a driver. I am still looking but in no rush as I can carry the 3 wood more than 22o yards.
As an added bonus, I had the same 3 wood as a youngster so it brings back some memories for me!
Each of these clubs cost just over 30 USD, which, in the condition they are, I was pleased with.
I picked up a very old putter. I can’t see a brand on it but so far I am happy with it. It has a decent feel and my putting is improving. As an added benefit, it cost less than 20 USD.
Unless you have money to burn or are a very competitive golfer who needs to shave one or two strokes off your round, I don’t see much need to spend a lot of money on a putter.
If you’re just getting into golf, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get started. Buying old golf clubs can be a great way to get a set without breaking the bank.
Before you buy clubs, make sure you know what you’re looking for, and remember that old clubs may not hit the ball as far as new clubs do.
With a little research and care, you should be able to find a great set of old clubs at a great price.
Is it worth buying used equipment? If you buy the right clubs that you are willing to invest time into learning to play, absolutely.
As always, we hope this post provided you with some helpful insight. If you have any thoughts or experiences to share with readers, we’d love to hear from you in the comments.