It's the very nature of the golf equipment business. Buy the latest and greatest and in no time at all, something else comes along that promises longer, straighter drives, more precise iron play and truer putts. Indeed, it doesn't take long for golf equipment to become obsolete.
Now, if you're one of those golfers who has been playing with the same equipment for 20 years, God bless you; you haven't been suckered into the marketing. But if you're like most of us, you have more than one driver and iron set, and probably a bag full of putters and wedges. After a few years, this stuff starts to accumulate. And if you're trying to get rid of clutter, getting rid of your excess golf clubs is a good place to start.
Online selling and brick-and-mortar stores
The first thing you need to do is assess the real value of your unwanted items. Chances are if they are more than a couple of years old, they are not worth much. But it all depends on the brand and demand. You might want to research on Amazon or eBay and see what price sellers have set for used clubs like yours. In some cases you might be surprised, but by in large, clubs that are more than a couple of years old don't go for much because the market is so flooded with new equipment. Still, if you're looking for top dollar, these are the sites that will generally produce the most revenue.
For example, if you have a Titleist 915 D2 driver, you might be able to sell it for $200 (current bids on eBay are anywhere from $80-200) or so, depending on condition, so it might be worth it to sell it this way or put it up for auction. If you have a Scotty Cameron putter, even better. They retain value, and you can get good money for them on eBay. But if you have an older driver, like a TaylorMade R7, we're talking $50, plus or minus $10 or so. I'm not sure that's worth the trouble of boxing it individually, going to UPS or FedEx and sending it off. For those who don't want to go through that much trouble, there are other alternatives.
The benefit of Craigslist is it can offer a huge user base of sellers in most cities and sellers don't have to pay any type of listing fee. But it's a famously cluttered site and beware of extreme hagglers and scammers. Don't take anything besides cash as payment or let the clubs out of your sight without getting a deposit. Play It Again Sports is a brick and mortar option that pays cash or more for trade in many cities and is particularly useful if you feel like trading in your iron set for say, a tennis racket. Golf speciality stores like Golf Galaxy and PGA Tour Superstores also have trade-in departments where you can bring in your items for appraisal.
Of course, probably the best thing we can do is donate our old golf clubs. In this case, I wouldn't suggest Goodwill or Salvation Army, especially if it's high-quality gear. First Tee or any other junior program would probably be your best bet, plus it grows the game.
Take the easy way with online sellers
But if that's not what you want to do, there are a couple of companies that specialize in buying used equipment in bulk, and they make it easy for the seller. Just gather up your used sticks, visit their websites to find their value and box them off and ship it to them. In return, they mail you a check (or give you credit, which is typically more). You won't make a killing, but you'll get rid of those old clubs that are gathering dust, and they'll be sold to someone else who wants them.
"Frugality is again a virtue, especially since new and pre-owned equipment both promise high performance," said Ed Byman, CEO of Raleigh, N.C.-based Global Value Commerce, which has several websites that specialize in buying and selling used and new equipment. "Finding and upgrading to the exact clubs you want has never been easier and more affordable."
GVC's business has grown every year for the last 16 years, up to $52.9 million, a 15% sales increase in 2016 over the prior year.
The company attributes the record mark to golfers being more predisposed to selling their "buried treasures" and buying pre-owned products. GVC also has companion sites 3Balls.com and GolfShoesOnly.com. GVC also sells certified, pre-owned TaylorMade Golf products exclusively on TaylorMadeGolfPreOwned.com.
On average, the company receives more than 1,000 pre-owned clubs in trade every day. For example, that Titleist 915 driver, a D-2 with a stiff shaft, would fetch $90 in trade-in on 3Balls.com.
Selling clubs can be pretty simple
GVC also operates the PGA Value Guide, which is like Kelley Blue Book for used golf clubs. For example, through the PGA Value Guide website, I looked up the value of a couple of old putters, three drivers, a fairway wood, a hybrid and a wedge and got $200 for them. Shipping was free because I had more than $100 worth of clubs. I probably wouldn't have done much better on eBay, and it would have been a lot more hassle. That Titleist 915 D2? It pays out a $73 check or $80 site credit.
Another option is 2ndSwing.com, where you can follow a similar process. Sell or trade in your clubs, ship them off and get paid.
In both cases, you can also shop these sites for used clubs, which is where I send a lot of folks who are looking for quality clubs, but don't want to spend a couple thousand dollars or more on a new set. After all, the technology difference between clubs today and five years ago won't have a huge impact on a person's game. Lessons and practice are more important.
The only drawback to buying used clubs, obviously, is that they aren't custom fit. But if you get the right shafts, which you can do through 2nd Swing or Global Value Commerce because the specs are listed, you've won more than half the battle.