For most golfers, the driver is typically the most expensive club in their bag, and also one of the clubs we use most frequently. We use our driver on the driving range, and on the course, we always use the driver on a par-five or par-four, but especially off the tee.
So, finding the right driver according to your play style and your budget is very important, and due to its price tag, purchasing a used golf driver is actually a viable option for golfers of any skill levels.
However, with the wide variety of clubhead shapes, the center of gravity (CG) placements, face technology, and adjustable technologies offered by many different models of many different brands, finding the right used golf driver for you can be quite a daunting task.
This is why in this buying guide, we will share some actionable tips you can use when buying a used golf driver.
How to Buy The Right Used Driver
Yes, you are looking to buy a used driver, but the easier approach in our experience is to think like you are purchasing a brand new driver: research the market for the driver you’d like to purchase, and once you’ve found the right one according to your needs, try to find a used one.
So, first, we have to deal with finding the right club according to your needs: your playing style, current skill level, available budget (already considering the used club will be cheaper), and so on.
Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing between different driver clubs:
Clubhead sizes are measured in cc (cubic centimeters) and the current regulations limit the size of the clubhead to 460cc. Most drivers in the market today are between 440 and 460cc.
The bigger the head size is, the more areas you can use to hit the ball, so the driver is going to be more forgiving.
However, a bigger clubhead is determined as “ugly” by many players, also due to the perception that bigger heads are often associated with beginners/high-handicappers.
Smaller head sizes can also alter the club’s MOI (more on this later) and behavior to provide more workability.
Driver clubs were traditionally made of wood, but most modern drivers today are made of composite materials and titanium.
Titanium is lightweight while being very hard and durable, allowing manufacturers to create a maximum 460cc head without increasing its weight. The lighter the driver is, the faster we can swing the club, and so it will help in distance performance.
Many drivers are also made using composite materials (a mixture of many different materials) to achieve the same objective: as hard as possible while being as light as possible. Carbon is often used as a lightweight material, combined with hard but heavy materials like tungsten.
So, when researching different head materials, you’d want a lightweight head that also offers large MOI and much forgiveness.
MOI, or Moment of Inertia, is a physics term used to measure the stability (stillness) of an object, and in golf, it’s used to measure how resistant a club head is to being twisted during impact.
The higher the MOI, the more resistant an object is to being twisted especially during off-center strikes. So, a club with a high MOI is considered more forgiving as you can get better results during mishits.
Most golfers can’t consistently hit the ball in the center of the face all the time, so a high MOI is typically preferred.
Center of Gravity (CG)
CG in a golf club refers to a dot or a point in the clubhead where all the weight is evenly distributed to all directions.
In practice, where the CG is placed in a golf club would determine the flight characteristics of the ball as it is hit by the club, and also would determine the club’s forgiveness.
Lower CG placement will produce more backspin and higher launch trajectory, while a higher placement of CG will produce topspin and lower flight.
On the other hand, if the CG is placed closer to the heel, it will produce more draw spin which is good for countering slices.
So, for maximum forgiveness, look for a driver with low and back CG placement.
Loft refers to the angle that the face of the club slopes back. In driver clubs, the loft typically ranges from 8.5° to 15°.
In general, the slower your swing speed, the higher the loft you need, and vice versa. As a general rule of thumb, the average swing speed for most male golfers is around 80 to 90 mph, which will need a driver with around 10° to 12° of the loft.
Different manufacturers nowadays offer different models with varying shaft lengths, but typically drivers are between 43.5” to 47”. The maximum length allowed by the current regulations, however, is 48”.
The longer the shaft, the faster the head will travel, so it will translate to a better distance during well-struck hits. However, the longer the shaft, the harder it is to control and the less forgiving it will be.
As a general rule of thumb, you should try to find the longest driver possible that is still comfortable for you to hit consistently.
Sound and Feel
The sound and feel of a driver (or a golf club in general) aren’t merely about aesthetics, but they are also important in providing feedback whether you’ve made a well-struck or off-center hit.
Obviously, however, the satisfaction of hitting a pleasantly sounding driver is also important, and many golfers will justify the purchase of a really expensive club based on sound alone.
Swingweight, in a golf club, refers to how much of the driver’s total weight is located in the head. This is a factor that is often overlooked when choosing between different golf clubs but is actually very important if you really want to make the most of your swing.
In general, choose the right swingweight and total weight according to your swing speed, arms’ strength, and swing tempo. This will significantly help in improving the consistency of your strikes and lower the percentage of mishits.
How To Determine The Quality of a Used Golf Club
Now that you’ve decided on a driver based on the above criteria, and you’ve found a used driver of the same model, how can you determine whether it is still in a good condition? How much cheaper should we pay for the club compared to a brand new one?
In general, there are three main areas you should consider when assessing the condition of a used club:
Typically modern drivers nowadays are using either steel or graphite shafts. It’s relatively easier to assess the condition of a steel shaft: if it’s straight and not dented with a pretty decent finish, then it is likely in fine condition. Obviously, it’s also harder to really damage a steel shaft, so it should be easy to tell if it is in a good shape or not.
For graphite shafts, however, they are relatively more complex to assess the condition, as even a small crack in the graphite can lead to future problems. We’d recommend avoiding even a very small amount of scratches/splits in a graphite shaft, and only get a graphite shaft in a near-mint condition (or it should drive down the price of the club).
Check the condition of the grip. You can easily replace the grip for only around $10 to $15, however, if there’s a sign that the grip has been replaced and/or it is in a worn condition, it is a strong sign that the club has been used a lot.
Check especially the grooves/mills on the club’s face and make sure they are still in a pretty decent condition. It’s okay if the grooves are a bit worn, but if it’s in a really bad condition, it can be very difficult and/or expensive to regroove. Also, make sure the head is still mounted securely to the hosel, and check the condition of the hosel itself.
Determining The Value of The Used Driver
Now that you’ve properly assessed the condition of the used driver based on the above factors, how can we determine how much we should pay?
Nowadays when everything is available online, the best approach is to do online research and compare different products available. You can check platforms like eBay or other sites specializing in 2nd-hand golf clubs and look for a similar driver.
If the driver you are currently interested in and the ones listed on these platforms are around the same value (after considering the condition), then it’s highly likely that it’s a fair value.
Also, check the price for the driver in a brand new condition and the brand new price of newer driver models from the same manufacturer/brand. Contrary to popular belief that a golf club is an ‘investment’, actually, golf clubs decrease in value rather fast, especially when a new model from the same manufacturer has been released.
For example, if the driver was priced at $1,000 when it was released and a newer model from the manufacturer is now available, then $800 for a used driver for this model is in most cases, too expensive, even if it’s in a really good condition.
Tips When Purchasing Used Golf Clubs
1. Do your research carefully
Just because you are getting a bargain deal with a used driver in a near-mint condition, don’t underestimate the importance of research.
Treat this purchase just like when you are going to buy a brand new club or iron set: check for online reviews, know when the driver was launched and its original price, and compare it with the latest model offered by the brand.
For example, if a used driver is offered for $500 but the new model from the same brand is $600 with much better tech, then it’s probably better to pay that extra $100 and get the newer model.
2. Know your needs
Understand your playing style, swing speed, and overall preferences. Yes, the used driver might be in really good condition and offered at a good price, but if it’s the wrong loft for you, you might not get too much value from it.
Use our tips above and understand the various factors that will affect the driver’s performance, and get one according to your needs and preferences.
3. Regrip the club
Be prepared for a regrip when purchasing a new driver (unless the previous owner has put a new grip immediately before trading them in, although it’s rare).
Thankfully regripping a club is fairly affordable nowadays, so although not all used clubs might need a regrip immediately, just be prepared for one.
4. Be aware of fake clubs
Yes, there are a lot of counterfeit clubs in circulation, and some of them can look pretty similar to the original one. Again, do your research online and collect photos of the model so you can compare logos, grips, adjustable weights (if any), and other minor details.
If you are purchasing from a trustworthy platform, then check whether they have experts to check their clubs for counterfeiting. However, in general, if a golf club is offered too low, then you should be extra careful.
5. Check the club in person
Although this isn’t always possible, try to go and see the driver in person before you make your purchase.
If it’s not possible, ask the previous owner (or the platform you are purchasing the club from) for a seven-day trial if possible. So, if you aren’t happy with the club’s condition, you can send it back and get a refund.
Although purchasing a used driver (or any used golf club in general) can be intimidating and scary, nowadays we have various platforms, online review sites, and even social media networks so we can easily ask around and do our online research whether a used golf club is really a good deal.
What’s really important is to understand yourself as a player: your swing speed, habit/tempo, and what you really need from a driver before hunting for one.