First off, hello everybody. I've been a long time lurker on this website (big fan) and this is my first post. Anyway, on to my dilemma. I am getting ready to buy my girlfriend her first set of clubs and I am torn between getting her a used set of older name brand clubs from eBay (callaway x-12, x-14, TM burner etc.) or one of those lower end boxed sets (not the Adams, Callaway, or Nike ones). I am trying to keep the price around $200 and my instincts tell me to go with the older clubs mainly because I have looked at the clubs from the box sets and they seem really poorly build and bad quality. My girlfriend is short at 5'0" but pretty athletic and she is getting better very quickly (got her first par yesterday on only her second time out!). Right now she is using an older set from a relative that wants her clubs back so I need to get her something quickly.
Club suggestion for girlfriend: used callaway/TM or new box set?
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I'm not crazy about box sets for the reason the OP cited. They are cheap for a reason, and are often designed to look the part with little attention to the playability features that the brand puts into the regular sets. A decent used set might not look as shiny to start with, but it will probably yield more enjoyable shots and may stay in the bag longer.
At 5-foot-0, your girlfriend might benefit from petite golf clubs. Petites are versions of club models adjusted for women 5-foot-2 and under: The clubs have a flatter lie angle, and the shafts are 1' shorter than standard.
At 5-foot-0 and athletic, your GF presents some interesting questions as far as club selection. Regardless of height, you want her to be able to hit the clubs first before you buy them.
Has she had any lessons? A couple of lessons would help her get started.
The boxed sets are a good way to begin, and even these clubs can be tweaked a little by the fitter if need be. I wrote a column a couple of years back on boxed sets, and many teaching pros recommend them.
Thanks for your response WUTiger. I was looking at petite sets for her as well but couldn't find anything worth while in my price range and ultimately decided against getting a boxed set in favor of a slightly used set of brand name clubs. I ended up getting her a set of 2010 Nike SQ Machspeed ladies clubs 5,6 hybrid 7-SW and nike SQ machspeed driver and fairway wood for around $250. The ultimate deciding factor ended up being her game: she was improving so much (clean hits with a 3 iron 150 yards plus+) that an off brand set would have gotten replaced rather quickly. I figured the extra $50 or so was worth it and now I can't wait to see how she hits clubs that were build this decade! At some point I may have to go get the clubs shortened for her but for now she can't wait to get her new clubs.