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If you are thinking of buying yourself new golf equipment, one option open to you is second hand clubs. This can be a smart way to invest in your game, without breaking the bank. In this video and article I reveal what happened when I tested three, full second hand sets at three very different price-points. I then picked one of those sets to try and build a score with out on the course.
The starting point for this challenge was to travel up to Golf Clubs 4 Cash, a large second hand golf club retailer based in Edinburgh. Having given them my usual specs, the team at GC4C, put together three full sets at different price points: under £1,000, under £800 and under £400. I then hit all three sets on a Trackman launch monitor at Edinburgh Indoor Golf to get a feel for the different levels of performance on offer.
Second Hand Set 1: Under £2,000
The most expensive set I hit, as you would expect featured recent models from premium brands. On the whole, the shaft specs were right for my game too. The video with this article shows the sets in detail and you'll see the sort of condition of the clubs listed below.
Driver: PING G425 MAX £374.95
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max £199.95
Hybrid: Callaway Apex ‘21 £184.95
Irons: JPX 919 Tour (4-PW) £579.95
Wedges: Muira Forged 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ £119.95 each
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #7 £149.95
As you might expect for a little less than £2,000 this was a good quality set with clubs that were generally in good condition. The hybrid and putter in particular, I could easily see fitting into my own current line-up of golf clubs. During the launch monitor testing, the PING G425 MAX driver offered impressive consistency, even if it was a fraction shorter than my own current, fitted model.
The main compromise here was over the irons. The set chosen, the Mizuno JPX 919 Tour, was a little less forgiving than I’d usually opt for. Whilst they performed well during my launch monitor testing and I liked the way they looked at address, I’d be a little concerned I wouldn’t get away with as many mis-hits while competing for real.
Second Hand Set 2: Under £800
For the second set, we dropped the budget significantly and as you would expect, this required more compromises regarding both the specs and the condition of the clubs chosen. Listed below are the full details of the set we put together:
Driver: TaylorMade SLDR £109.95
Fairway Wood: PING G15 £69.95
Hybrid: TaylorMade Aeroburner £69.95
Irons: Cobra Forged TEC (5-PW) £329.95
Wedges: Cleveland RTX-3 52, 60 £59.95 each
Putter: Odyssey White Hot Pro (2015) £94.95
The first thing to say here is that this set on comprised of 12 clubs. To get this up to 14, I’d add a 4-iron and another wedge and this would likely take the total to closer to £1,000. During my testing, the highlight was the set of irons (this is where we decided to devote the lion’s share of the budget). The Cobra Forged Tec irons felt superb and offered an ideal mix of distance and forgiveness. I was really impressed by how the irons performed.
The main compromise was over the shaft specs on the fairway wood and hybrid. Both were a little less stiff than I’d expect to be fitted for, and in the case of the TaylorMade Aeroburner, this was older and looked more tired than the other clubs in the set.
Second Hand Set 3: Under £400
My cheapest set came in well under £400 and as you might expect, there were some more significant compromises throughout the set. Most notably, the clubs chosen were older and as a result, they lacked the same levels of forgiveness of the clubs in the other two sets. Here’s what I was able to get for under £400:
Driver: PING G2 £49.95
Fairway Wood: Cleveland Launcher £39.95, Titleist 975F £24.95
Irons: Mizuno MX-23 (3-PW) £139.95
Wedge: Callaway Forged 56˚ £24.95
Wedge: TaylorMade RAC˚ £29.95
Putter: PING Karsten Original (1966) £34.95
Testing these clubs on a launch monitor was great fun. My favourite clubs in the set were the driver and irons. The PING G2 was a real blast from the past and it was clear, this driver has stood the test of time incredibly well. Perhaps not as large or inviting to look down on as the latest models, it still performed well and in fact, the longest drive I hit during the whole session was with the PING G2.
The Mizuno MX-23 irons might not have been in the best condition but I still found them very inviting to hit. The blade length from heel to toe was quite long so it felt as if there was plenty of room to strike the ball but the topline wasn’t too think. I felt like I could use this set fairly well out on the course.
By contrast, the Titleist fairway wood looked very small and intimidating. A long time ago, I’d have used this happily on the course but nowadays I think I’ve become too accustomed to the forgiveness on offer from larger-looking, modern fairway woods. This would be a bridge too far for me!
On Course Testing
Having hit all three sets on the launch monitor at Edinburgh Indoor Golf, I took set two away with me to use on the golf course, card in hand. I played the International Course at the London Club to see how they performed in more of a real-world situation. On a perfect day (blue skies and around 10mph of wind) I put together a 10-over par score of 82 (I play off a handicap of 3).
On the whole, I would say this set offered me similar results to what I would expect with my own, custom-fitted set of golf clubs. Good swings delivered good results, poor swings invariably cost me. Some of the issues I found with the clubs came down to familiarity. For example, the irons are significantly stronger than my own set. Judging distances became something of a lottery and on the par-3, 12th, which plays over water, this cost me a double bogey. Of course, over time, I’d get used to that.
As predicted, the shafts of the fairway wood and hybrid were a little too soft for me. In particular, I hit one really well struck fairway wood shot that turned over too much and ended up in trouble. The putter too was shorter than I’m used to but on the day, I holed more putts than I’d usually expect so that’s perhaps something for me to look into!
Kitting yourself out with a full bag of golf clubs can feel like a very expensive endeavour. Going down the second hand route, could be a more cost effective alternative but, depending on your budget, there are likely to be some compromises. My over-riding experience was that despite those compromises, I got the value I’d expect from the shots I hit. With my own clubs I might have been a few shots better but the differences wouldn’t have been night and day.
If you are thinking of going down this route my advice would be to think about your game, consider your strengths and weaknesses and then set a budget. Once you’ve done that you’ll have a better idea of how to invest. For me, having a good quality set of irons, a driver that delivered good accuracy and a putter than seemed to work well, delivered impressive results.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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