Buying last year's golf clubs can be a great strategy for golfers with
limited budgets or for people who simply don’t want to pay full price.
This page tells you why buying last year's versions can be such a good
alternative to buying clubs that have just come onto the market.
There are several ways to save money when you’re buying clubs and your golf equipment budget is limited. Buying golf clubs from the past year (made by one of the big name-brand manufacturers) is the strategy I usually take, but instead of doing that you could buy used or demo clubs, clubs made by mainstream manufacturers that haven’t quite made the top tier (Tour Edge, for example), or clone golf clubs, which have the advantage of being cheap and custom-built.
Any of those money-saving options can work quite well, although finding used or demo clubs that suit you and your game can be hit or miss. My favorite money-saving strategy focuses on buying brand new name-brand clubs, but I get golf clubs of last year – not the current years models. It’s kind of like buying a brand new 2012 car shortly after the 2013 models come out. If you’ve ever tried it, you know you can get some pretty good deals on cars that way. It’s similar with golf clubs, at least most of the time.
How much you can save by buying last year's golf clubs depends on the make and model you purchase. Again, it’s kind of like cars – some club makers don’t reduce their prices for last year's golf clubs by much, if they do it at all. PING is a great example. PING clubs hold their value so well and are in such high demand that the company typically doesn’t start lowering the price until a club has been on the market for two or three years. That’s the general rule with PING clubs, although there might be some exceptions.
But other top-tier club manufacturers reduce the prices of last year's golf clubs right before or right after the current years models come out. TaylorMade and Callaway Golf are two good examples of this pricing strategy. Last year, for instance, the Callaway Diablo Octane driver (a great club, by the way – we review it on another page of this site) had a list price of $299.99. But now that it’s one of last year's golf clubs, many stores and online shops are selling the Diablo Octane for half price – only $149.99. I think it’s a steal at that price, and I plan on buying one sometime within the next couple of weeks. Or, if you’re a TaylorMade guy or gal, you can now pick up a TaylorMade R11 driver for $249.99, $50 less than it would have cost a few short months ago. Why? Because even though it’s popular, it’s one of last year's golf clubs!
If your clubs are more than three or four years old, you’ll probably notice a significant difference in the designs, technology and performance of today’s versions. But in my opinion, things don’t change all that much from year to year. Sure, each year sees some improvements and these improvements do add up eventually, but the changes that are made every year are usually incremental – small changes that you might not even notice if you’re already playing one of last year's golf clubs. That’s one of the reasons that no one really needs to buy a new driver (or a new set of irons, or whatever) every year (that could also get really expensive). Assuming the clubs you’re replacing suit you, you’ll really only notice a significant difference if they’re at least three or four years old.
The incremental nature of most golf club innovations and improvements means there’s no really strong reason to buy clubs that have just been put onto the market. And that’s especially true for golfers with limited budgets. I’m able to spend whatever I want, but I’m what some people might call cheap (I prefer to think of myself as being “fiscally responsible”). I’ve had my eye on a Callaway Diablo Octane driver for about a year now, but I didn’t want to spend $299.99 on one club. So, I held off until Callaway launched its 2012 clubs, and now I can buy the driver I want at half price!
You can do the same thing. Big-box golf equipment shops like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Edwin Watts, and Golfsmith usually have some of last year's golf clubs for sale even though the current years models are out on the market. And it’s even easier to find last year's golf clubs in online shops and places like eBay (www.ebay.com) or Amazon (www.amazon.com). It’s a money-saving strategy that I think you should at least consider.