Take it from a former bargain hunter: Quality clubs are worth the price

Golf clubs have become so expensive, even the most serious players have to think twice about buying new.

Go online and you’ll find advertisements for special pricing on name-brand equipment. You’ll see warnings declaring that what works for the pros won’t work for you.

Sometimes, even the most serious player won’t ever put new clubs in the budget. For years, I was one of those people.

New or used? I bought used whenever possible. My first look was the bargain bin, and if I didn’t find something there I hunted for a good deal on the rack – and only at a golf shop that advertised its low prices.

Top of the line or knockoff brand? No TaylorMade for me. In fact, my irons are such an obscure brand, even people who know a lot about golf clubs have never heard of it.

Change clubs every couple of years or every couple of decades? I’ve been swinging sticks that were made in the last century.

Getting fitted for the right clubs? That was a dream I thought I’d never turn into a reality.

As much as I wanted something better, I just couldn’t see spending the money. But after all these years of feeling as if my clubs were costing me shots, enough was enough. Everyone I talked to raved about the club-fitting experience and, more importantly, the results they were getting. I saved up the money, determined to see for myself.

And now that I’ve done it, I’ve got to tell you: If you take our great game at all seriously, you owe it to yourself to do this at least once. But you’ll be happier if you do it right.

First, do your homework on how much it will cost. Budget for well into four digits. The better the set, the further into the thousands you’re going to go.

Second, I urge you to do it right and get fitted. Don’t just buy something off the rack. Chances are you’ll regret it.

I found the whole club-fitting experience fascinating. First of all, we were talking golf – that’s a good thing right there. There was a golf tournament on the TV in front of me, which I find soothing. And I was getting to see the measurements – distance, spin rate, everything – on every shot I hit. The difference between my old driver and a new one was more than 30 yards.

It wasn’t just like being a kid in a candy store. It was like being a kid in a candy store that had only your favorite kind of candy and had an awesome ice cream counter, too.

I was there for three hours and hit several hundred shots. That’s another thing about this: You need to be in decent physical condition to do it right. You’re going to hit at least five shots with every club, and you’re going to try a lot of different clubs if they’re fitting you correctly.

I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks on golfguide.net, in particular after I take delivery on my new TaylorMade M3 460 driver (yes, I got a TaylorMade, at long last) and Callaway Rogue 3-wood and 5-wood and start using them.

But I can tell you this much: Even before I go out on the course and hit a single shot with those sticks, I think the experience was worth it. It was something I always wanted to do, and now that I’ve experienced it, I’m not going to think twice about what it cost.

I will never again look in a bargain bin. Ever. I’m a convert. If you care about the game and want to play it reasonably well, you’ve got to treat yourself to this every 10 years or so.

There’s only one catch: Until my new clubs are finished, I’ve got to play with my old woods. It will be like driving a 20-year-old car after tooling around in a new Lexus for a few hours.

But at least I know that, before long, the Lexus will be mine. And, to me at least, having great golf clubs is a lot more important than a stupid car. Driving a car far and straight is no big thrill. Driving a golf ball far and straight is a thrill like no other.


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