The internet has revolutionised the way we shop, and the golf business has been one that?s embraced it with open arms. From buying the newest Stateside offering, to trading in your old sticks for the latest models, the internet provides the medium for any golfer to find his perfect match.

The biggest online auction site, ebay (www.ebay.com) was founded in 1995 and has just announced profits of £113 million. ?E-commerce is becoming more mainstream every day, and ebay has become a prime shopping destination for almost every item,” says ebay President, Meg Whitman.

From clubs and bags to umbrellas, trolleys and instructional material, ebay has a breadth of equipment that no pro shop could ever compete with.

The process requires a potential buyer to search the site for an item, place a bid and wait to see if it’s successful. Having won the auction and paid the seller, you’ll become the new owner of anything golf. Alternatively, for those put off by placing an online bid, a “buy now” option will guarantee the item for a predetermined, fixed fee.

Howard Kendall, 32, has used ebay for all his golfing needs over the past three years and believes there’s nowhere better. “I was fed up of paying over-inflated prices for clubs and ebay offered me the opportunity to frequently and affordably change my equipment.”

The price of golf kit tends to be cheaper on ebay because the relationship between buyer and seller is direct, cutting out the expensive role of the middleman. “Without a third party cutting themselves in on the deal, equipment is so much cheaper – it’s really hard to ignore,” he says.

The only drawback is that you never know exactly what you’re buying until it lands at your door and as it comes from private sellers there are no quality guarantees. “On the whole, the quality of the clubs I’ve bought has been fine. But I once received a driver with a sky mark in the top. It’s annoying but for the price you pay, it’s a risk worth taking,” admits Kendall.

But there’s another online auction site that offers a quality guarantee and is proving more than a match for ebay. Golfbidder (www.golfbidder.co.uk) was established in 1997 and now boasts 4,500 hits every day, resulting in company sales of £2.7 million.

Managing Director, Liam Robb believes it offers a far safer way of buying clubs. “Unlike ebay, we actually buy from those wishing to trade in their clubs and we offer a seven-day trial period in which the buyer can test and return the club if they aren’t happy.”

Prices tend to be a little higher than on ebay, but buyers can rest assured that they don’t have to keep anything they aren’t entirely happy with. “We also offer a one-year guarantee so if we sell you a club and the head falls off after six months we’ll offer a refund,” explains Robb.

Another way to buy on the net is via the online superstore. Onlinegolf.co.uk and Letsbuygolfkit.com are among a growing band of internet retailers dedicated to golf. Without having to pay for expensive shop floors or sales staff, overheads are dramatically reduced allowing price benefits to be handed down to the customer.

So buying golf equipment online is proving to be the avenue of choice for a growing number of punters and rock bottom internet prices are set to remain a real lure for anyone in the market.

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