How to Buy Golf Equipment – Introduction and The Basics

January 10, 2011

Today’s post is about purchasing golf equipment and how to maximize benefit while reducing cost.

Many people don’t realize that the “price” of something isn’t really the price. In America, we are conditioned to believe that the price marked on an item is the price of the item. If you have the money, you buy it; if you don’t have the money, you don’t buy it. But anyone who has traveled abroad knows the value of a marketplace setting and “haggling” to get a deal.

When I was in Italy, I found a marketplace where a very nice man was selling wallets. I found one I especially liked and internally valued it at about 12 euro. It had “25 euro” marked on it. I told the man I wanted to pay about 10 euro. He came down from 25 to 18. I asked if I paid in cash, would he take more off (credit card fees), and he came down to 16. I said “I really didn’t want to pay more than 12” and he came to 15. He told me how nice it was; how the craftsmanship was excellent; how he couldn’t make money if he sold it for less than 15. Politely, I said “OK. Well, it’s a very nice wallet, but I don’t want to pay more than 12 euro. Thank you so much for your time.” Then I walked away. As I turned the corner, he yelled out to me “OK! OK! I can do 12!”

People don’t really understand where all the numbers come from, though. They think “well, I need to start low so I can work my way up to the price I want to pay.” That isn’t the strategy at all.

Instead, the strategy behind buying and selling is figuring out an independent value for things BEFORE looking at the price tag or negotiating a transaction. This value is something completely subjective–something that only you can define. As in my wallet example, I decided that the wallet was worth about 12 euro to me before I saw that the price was 25. If the marked price was 12–great, I would have simply paid the price. But I wasn’t going to go above what I thought it was worth.

The same thing holds true for buying golf equipment. Value is a completely subjective measure. For one seller, a club needs to bring in at least $150 or it’s just not worth selling, whereas another seller’s main concern is getting the club out of his closet, so he’ll take $100 for the exact same thing.

Now, all of this isn’t to say that you offer the seller whatever price you think it’s worth. Instead, figure out whether the seller’s price is close enough to the price you’re willing to pay so that an offer will seem reasonable to the seller. I once had a seller call me a “dumb uck” (intentionally leaving out the “f” to avoid being thrown off of the website) because I offered him a price that he perceived was too low for a club. Often times, however, a seller will accept a lower price. By following this procedure, I have consistently saved between 20% and 50% on used golf equipment.

So, with that backdrop in mind, I have listed some guidelines for buying equipment (and saving money). Hopefully they will help you with your search for equipment.

(1) Know what you want; know what it’s worth; but most importantly, know how much it costs to turn something that isn’t what you want into something that you want.

This is very important. Fair market value (FMV) has a lot to do with what you should be paying for equipment. If the exact club you want is selling on eBay for around $50 per club, you shouldn’t be offering someone $70 for it. You should be patient and see if another one will come on eBay, and offer the seller $40 for it.

However, more importantly, if the exact club you want is $200, but something close is only $45, you have to know what it costs to turn the $45 into your $200. I recently bought a Sonartec fairway wood (the subject of a post on reshafting, here: https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/how-i-do-club-repair-and-you-can-too/). The shaft on the club was “S” flex. I need “X” flex. However, an “X” flex version of the club was $50. I had purchased a shaft for $20 that would fit the head. And, the “S” flex version was $8.50. Why on earth would I purchase the “exact” thing I wanted when something close would work, and I could turn it into exactly what I wanted for less money?

The other important aspect of this is that, often times, sellers will be willing to give you a price that’s the value of the club minus the repairs you would have to make. So, let’s say you have a putter that you want to buy for $200. It has a 33-inch shaft, and you really need a 35-inch shaft. A seller should know that it would cost about $17 for a new putter shaft and about $8 for a new putter grip. Thus, if you tell the seller “I would have to reshaft this putter, and I didn’t want to spend more than $200 altogether. Would you sell it to me for $175 so that I can make the repairs?” Many sellers will agree to this, seeing it as a reasonable request. Of course, you would only make this request if you thought the equipment was worth $175. If you thought it was worth $150, you could say the same thing but with “$150” replaced for “$175.”

(2) Be reasonable; look to independent indicators of what something is worth

The reason sellers will deal with me is that I don’t give them BS about why I’m offering them the amount that I’m offering. I might initially write a seller saying “would you consider an offer of [fill in the blank with 20% off]” or even simply “would you consider an offer?” However, it’s much more effective to explain to a potential seller that “my budget is $150. I cannot spend more than that. I believe this is a very nice driver, but that’s really as high as I can go. Would you consider such an offer?” Or even saying “you are asking $190 for this driver, but I just saw another one sell (at http://www.some_website.com) for $140 and it had a grip on it that was worth twice the value of the grip on the driver you are selling, which would need to be replaced. Would you sell it to me for $140 – 10%, or $126?”

In these examples, I haven’t just said “I’ll give you $126 for it.” Instead, I’m telling the seller why I think $126 is a reasonable offer. Sellers are very responsive to this and will often “see the light,” realizing they may have asked too much for a piece of equipment.

(3) Don’t be afraid to make an offer

This one is very hard starting out. You feel like someone is going to be offended if you offer them too little for what they’re selling.

Here’s what I can tell you to ease your mind: I’ve made literally hundreds of offers to purchase things at lower prices. I can count on one hand the number of times a seller was offended. Now, sometimes, the sellers have said “no.” But many of the times they said “yes,” and I got what I wanted at a discount. It’s worth asking, so just ask! If the seller says “no,” you can always buy it for the original price.

(4) Purchase during the right time of year

This is a big deal for golf equipment. Making offers and purchasing items is MUCH easier during the winter because the market is so cold. It’s easy to buy things at reduced prices because the other buyers simply aren’t there. I recently bought a putter for $125 that was originally listed for $180 used (it was $330 purchased new). The seller literally took a $200 hit on the value because I bought it in December. Had he waited and sold in April, May, or June, he probably could have sold it for $180 easy because that’s when golfers think about buying equipment. If it’s golf season, you’re going to pay more for equipment. One caveat, however–sometimes, it’s difficult to find what you want during winter. Just as the buyers aren’t there, the sellers aren’t either. Keep your eyes open, but know you might not get exactly what you want.

(5) Don’t buy a seller’s BS

Make your own evaluation of the value of the club. Don’t buy that it was “hand made by so and so” or “tour issue” or whatever. Decide what YOU think the club is worth, not what the seller thinks it should be worth.

More importantly, though: keep your eyes open for fakes. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is selling a “tour issue” Scotty Cameron putter for $150, it’s probably a fake.

(6) Learn to make repairs yourself

Often times, this can be a great help. I posted on this blog (https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/how-i-do-club-repair-and-you-can-too/) about purchasing a 3-wood I really liked on eBay and putting a shaft in it. I spent $8.50 on the 3-wood, paid $8 to pull the shaft, and bought a new shaft for $20. So, for a total of $36.50, I got the EXACT club I wanted. Think about buying clubs that aren’t up to spec and doing your own work on them. It will greatly reduce your out-of-pocket cost.

(7) Always think in the short-term

#7 is very important. It goes along with “what time of year to buy” (#4, above), but it is a little different. Thinking in the short-term is very important. You can’t sit around and think about what something might be worth in a few years or what might be valuable later on. But club fads come and go quickly, and equipment can become worthless very quickly. By the same token, they can also stay costly years from now (e.g., Scotty Cameron putters). Thus, making yourself wait for something or jumping on a particular club because it’s a “deal” doesn’t make sense. Buy your clubs for your use. When you’re not using them, sell them. Don’t wait around–you’ll surely be disappointed.

(8) Don’t get attached

Emotions play a big part in the value of things. Anyone who has bought a used car knows how unreasonable people can be about their values. A car that’s Blue-Booked for $6000 will be listed for $12,000 because it has “something special;” “highways miles only;” or “new tires.” How much do tires cost? $400, max? Does that justify a $6,000 increase in the price?

Emotions come into buying clubs as well. A buyer can get so worked up about a particular club that he overpays for it. Be objective, and don’t get attached to anything particular.

Here’s an example: I found (on eBay) a Byron Morgan putter. Now, they are excellent items of craftsmanship, but I got attached. I was only going to pay $175 for it, but ended up going up to $225 because I just liked it. Two weeks later, I found another one for $170.

I was so emotionally attached to the putter that I didn’t realize how much I was paying. Don’t get emotionally attached. If it doesn’t work out, have faith that something else will come along.

(9) ALWAYS be honest

Don’t lie. A seller can smell a lie. Besides, how would you like it if a seller lied to you about something? What goes around comes around.

(10) Be creative

This is probably the most important one. Creativity will create value. Sometimes, even though the pie is divided, each person has gotten the whole thing. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

I had a Scotty Cameron Newport Beach putter that was pretty beaten up. I wanted to sell it for at least $150. Someone contacted me about it asking to buy for $125. Obviously, our numbers were off. As we emailed back and forth, I asked why he wanted it. He commented that it was for a restoration. When I researched it, the Scotty Cameron Custom Shop restoration process includes a new headcover, shaft, and grip along with the restoration of the head. So, I offered to sell him just the head for $125. He accepted, stating that he was just going to throw the shaft away anyway. I decided I could sell the shaft and headcover for at least $25 more. So, everyone got what they wanted because of being creative (and, I pulled the shaft myself, saving money on the transaction as well).

So, there you have it: a few things you can keep in mind while buying and selling equipment. If you do it right, you can really save some value. Just today, I found a putter I really liked on eBay offered for $200 + $9 shipping. I offered $125 shipped and the seller agreed–immediately.

Try it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Advertisements

One Response to “How to Buy Golf Equipment – Introduction and The Basics”

  1. LG Says:

    This is good practice for all kinds of eBay purchases, actually. I’m in the market for a garment bag right now and plan on utilizing these principles! I’ll let you know what happens 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: