Scratching the New Golf Club Itch

Making New Gear Fun & Free

It’s the end of February and almost every major OEM has filled your local golf store with new clubs.  For the gear-obsessed golfers, this is the best and worst time of the year.  The excitement is enjoyable, but the inability to try everything and test every bold promise can be maddening.

In this lesson, I’m going to try to tilt that balance toward fun.  I’m going to give you four ways to scratch your equipment itches and try loads of new gear, all without breaking the bank.  If you prefer listening to reading, this lesson exists as a podcast HERE.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You want to try a lot of new clubs

You don’t want to spend a ton of money

#1 – Visit Your Local Golf Store

The place to start scratching those equipment itches is in your local golf store.  In 2023, there’s almost no way that your shop doesn’t have a hitting bay with a launch monitor.  This is perfect place to bring your current gear and test it against the latest and greatest.  If you have a good shop, this alone should give you access to most of the major OEM releases.

As a veteran of golf retail, I can tell you that the employees (in the main) have no issue with you using the hitting bays.  That is what they are there for.  The only thing that’s expected is that you act like a human.  Don’t take over the bay for huge stretches of time, particularly if there are other people waiting.  Don’t make a mess.  Ask for help if you need it.

I’ll add that if you’re going to use the store’s resources, you should support the store.  If you test new drivers, and you find one that you want to buy, purchase it there.  Don’t use the store, then go online to save $10.  If you don’t buy a club this year, go to the store to buy some gloves or balls.  Don’t be a leech.  If everyone uses the store’s hitting bays then buys online, there won’t be a store for very long.

#2 – Use (Don’t Abuse) Money Back Guarantees

There are numerous smaller brands that you can’t find at your local big box.  That’s where step two comes in.  Many newer or smaller companies offer the ability to buy their clubs online with a money back guarantee.  Edison Golf, for example, gives you 30 days to try their wedges on your home course before deciding if they’re for you.  Take them up on that offer.

Once again, the key to doing this correctly is not abusing the system.  If you have no intention of keeping new wedges, don’t order new wedges.  Don’t order things you can’t afford to keep.  If you order a new club, it performs as promised, and you still send it back, you’re abusing the system, hurting the company, and potentially ruining the opportunity for other golfers.  Don’t do that.

#3 – Get a Fitting

If your tastes run toward high end clubs, these last two options are for you.  First is getting a high quality fitting.  This will cost money, but it’s easily the best value when it comes to trying new, high end gear.

For the player that’s interested in boutique irons, a visit to Club Champion can scratch nearly every itch.  In one visit, you can try Epon, Miura, PXG, and more.  That iron fitting will cost $175.  Compare that to $1,500 or more for each model you would have to buy to test.  Even if you resold those sets, you’re guaranteed to lose much more than $175 on each transaction.  The value is undeniable.

The math is similar if you’re interested in high end shafts.  You can test Fujikura, Mitsubishi, Oban…the list goes on.  Again, the cost of a driver fitting is $175.  You’ll lose at least that on each shaft that you buy to try.  Moreover, in a fitting, you can test the shafts head to head.  In the buy to try scenario, you only get to hit one at a time, unless you have the cash to buy multiple shafts at once.

Finally, it shouldn’t be overlooked that there’s value in spending time with a fitter.  I’ve been fitting and writing about equipment for over a decade, but I still learn something new every time I get fit.

#4 – Create a Co-op

Finally, we get to the hard-to-find, boutique gear – the stuff you won’t see at a big box or a club fitter.  To try these brands without emptying your wallet, I suggest you form an equipment cooperative.  This will take work, but it’s going to be worth it on multiple levels.

First, seek out other gear-obsessed golfers in your area.  You’re already reading a golf equipment website, so use your computer skills to find these like-minded folk.  Get a group of four or five together and make the pitch: let’s work together to try some cool gear.

If, for example, the group decides to demo a Swag putter, here’s how it could work.  Take the cost of the putter and divide it equally among the group.  One person orders it and takes their turn testing it.  Then it gets passed to the next guy until everyone has had their turn.  If you want to be more social, get together on a putting green and roll it.  After everyone has tried it, the group can sell it to recoup their costs.  Alternately, if one member loves it, they can buy it from the group.  Either way, dividing the cost of buy-to-try lessens the financial sting and makes it possible to try more gear.

Bonus: you’ve just made some golf friends who you can talk gear with!

A Final Word

To paraphrase something I recently heard about life in general: you can’t opt out of being in the golf community, you can only choose to be a sh*tty member of the golf community.  Choose to be a good member.

Matt Saternus
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3 Comments

  1. Bach Khoa

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about
    this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

  2. Matt,
    This is a very good approach.
    We know that « fitting » is the essential and basic approach before buying.
    One of the majors problems that I am having at Golf stores in Canada, near Montreal, , is when you are trying to be fit for a club, they do not have the head with the loft you want, they do not have the shaft in the flex and length that you want, etc..l
    I am not talking about special stuff but clubs that has biggest potential for sales(i.e. TSR3 16.5 fw)
    The only way that I am using now is to book a fitting with a manufacturer at their visit in my golf store for a fitting day.
    At least, they have all the heads and numerous shafts to do the fitting.

    Previously, when I was missing patience, I was identifying a potential club, buying it, trying it and if not satisfied, reselling the club or shaft. It is costly way.
    In your region, You do not have this problem with Club Champion.

    Best regards,

  3. I totally agree! If you’re interested in an earlier model of irons with a similar design, do what you can to sell clubs privately first. Maybe you can compromise in order to go back to what you want. They might not have what you’re looking for so don’t sweat it! And I prefer buying in store like with Golf Town and now Golf Traders. It’s different for me if you bought from Golf Town and you know they have your specs in an earlier model – say Speedzone 5-GW irons you have now and you want to go back to the F9s. Golf Traders is more likely to carry F9s over Golf Town because they tend to carry newer models.

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