Golf on eBay

By: Bob Spiwak

If you have not lived in a place where there is a minimum two feet of snow from November to April, you've no idea what real golf withdrawal is. I live in such a place. Each winter I try to keep an area open with the tractor plow, in order to bang balls or BirdieBalls and keep my looping, outside-in, 70-mph swing functional. This year we had a storm that left trees across the drive into the golf course and I cannot get to it to plow.

Well, there is always The Golf Channel. But after all, how many infomercials can a person watch? Does anyone really give a rip about "The Big Break" or Donald Trump's newest quest for publicity? Is Shell's "Wonderful World of Golf" from 1972 a satisfying way to sit through a blizzard? None of the above for me, especially at this time of year, days before Christmas at the end of Silly Season.

But there is a place where the "scenery" is constantly changing. A place where one can gasp at prices at both ends of the currency spectrum. This place is called eBay and it is the ultimate candy store of golf stuff as well as anything else. But it is only the golf that I watch.

Here's an example of prices. First let me say that, for some reason, anything with the name Scotty Cameron on it is worth money. Think of his putters as Rolexes without hands. Cameron putters are never under a hundred dollars, and they climb up the scale to the model Tiger used in the 2000 PGA. Only 24 were made and each is signed by Woods. Price of No. 13 of 24? $7,200. Cameron putter covers - COVERS! - go up to around a hundred bucks, rarely under $40. Gasp!

On the other end is where I like to shop. Unless it is something I really NEED or covet, I try to keep my purchases between one and two dollars. One of this year's acquisitions was a brand-new Top-Flite blue cordura staff bag. It had a broken zipper on one of the six pockets. Not only was it new, emblazoned in large script is the name Edwin Watts. Of course you have heard of Mr. Watts, the pioneer of off-course discount mail-order golf stores. With this bag I figure I can take orders from people on the course. What did it cost? Ninety-nine cents. The next question always is, "Yeah, but whatcha have to pay for shipping?" I don't mind telling you it was $22; $22.99 for a new staff bag is a pretty good deal.

Of course, it is not my daily golf course bag. It is too big for me to carry or even pull on a cart and, on a motor cart, it takes up some of the space allotted for my partner's bag. OK, say you, then why get it? The answer my friend is putters.

Each year on our four-acre nine-hole putting course (putting, not putt-putt) we have at least one tournament. It is a benefit for the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. There is always a waiting list, in part because a lot of people come who are not golfers. These people do not have their own putters, so we provide loaners. Not putt-putt garbage instruments, but name brands like Ping, Ray Cook, Tad Moore, Northwestern Nancy Lopez, and so forth. These will be in my new staff bag at the registration table so people can choose the one they desire. All but one of the putters went for $2 or less, with $11.50 being the highest shipping on one.

There are, of course, bags, drivers, irons, shoes and shirts on eBay . . . the whole gamut of golfing garbage as well as valuable stuff. One can easily spend a day perusing the thousands of things for sale, all related to golf. How about 300 �pond� balls, all name brands, Grade A condition for $26? Shipping can be dear on large numbers of balls, however.

So that is what I do in my off-time. Window-shop the net and seek bargains I do not need. But oh, what fun until a course opens somewhere within a hundred miles.

I have a putter for just about every round I play during the season, or for a 50-some. Eat your heart out, Cameron.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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