BUYER BEWARE: When it comes to purchasing an unusual array of golf stuff, there’s nothing quite like eBay


“A fool and his money are soon parted.” – Thomas Tusser, 16th-century English poet.


“There’s a sucker born every minute.” – P.T. Barnum, 19th-century American showman and promoter.


One noticed the trend, and the other took advantage of it.

But now Barnum’s smirking indictment of consumers seems out of date and out of whack, thanks to golfers and to, an online auction and shopping website founded in 1995 that enables people to buy and sell a wide variety of items all over the world.

According to one recent Internet estimate, a golf item is sold on eBay every 7.1 seconds. By my math, that’s about eight suckers every minute.

Put it this way: When golf is involved, it seems easy for people to part with their hard-earned money.

Golfers are not the only people who could not resist exotic and/or weird offerings on eBay. For example, someone paid $455 for a few tablespoons of water supposedly left in a cup by Elvis Presley at a concert; someone paid $1,035 for a single piece of Nutri-Grain cereal because it resembled the movie character E.T.; and online casino Golden Palace actually paid $28,000 for a partially eaten, 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich that purportedly displayed the image of the Virgin Mary. (Honest. You can look it up.)

Golfaholics, however, are the biggest “suckers,” which I can say because I’m one of them.

If there’s a golf club or ball or tee or shoe or training aid  – OK, or gimmick – that is hyped to help improve your game or make it more fun to play, golf fanatics have to own it.

My garage is not the only one filled with sets of discarded drivers and “benched” putters and outdated equipment, not to mention “used” golf balls that I someday might want to use again. Same with my extra 50-, 52-, 54-, 56-, 60- and 64-degree wedges. Someday, I might need to put one in my bag for a particular course or tournament. Maybe.

But, hey, just because I have Obsessive Compulsive Golf Syndrome (OCGS) doesn’t mean I am certifiably loony, like the guy who picked up an apple core discarded by Tiger Woods during the second round of the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, brought it home and immediately put it up for auction on eBay. (“I never touched the core. Scooped it up in an empty beer cup, as not to (disturb) the DNA,” he said on eBay.)

Or maybe that guy was crazy smart. The brown, decaying fruit attracted 103 bids and was sold for $36,000!

Then there was a guy who listed a glass jar on eBay in 2012 claiming it contained the ghost of golf legend Bobby Jones. (“As much as I like having Mr. Jones in my house, my wife is petrified of ghosts and is now forcing me to sell him,” the seller said on eBay.) Minimum bid was listed at $500, with a “Buy It Now” price of $1,000. Fortunately, eBay halted the auction. No invisible or imaginary items allowed.

Unfortunately, ridiculous tangible golf items also have been sold on eBay, such as the 2008 auction of “The World’s First Ingested Golf Balls from a Snake.” Yes, four golf balls swallowed by a python in Australia and then surgically removed were sold for $1,401, including an X-ray showing them inside the snake and photographs of the surgery.

Where is this nonsense going to end? Is somebody going to find a bottle of deer-antler spray and list it on eBay claiming it was found in Vijay Singh’s locker? Or is somebody going to capture Rory McIlroy’s sweat or spit? There might be some good DNA in there.

During a recent search of golf items on eBay, I saw these listings: an exploding golf ball ($3.95); flat-top golf tees ($3.95); a box “For the Big Shot Golfer” containing one 12-inch tee ($8.50); a blue and white “slightly used Tiger Woods golf polo” ($3.99); a complete set of 1991 PGA Tour player photo and stat cards ($13.49); golf-tee earrings ($6.29); and a sign proclaiming  “Best Practice Swing in the Game”  ($9.99). Somebody will waste money on them.

In the interest of full disclosure, I also bid on – and won – a 1997 set of talking Three Stooges head-covers, marionette-style likenesses of Larry, Curly and Moe. Only $50. (Squeeze Moe’s right hand and his actual voice blurts, “Hey, back off, you imbecile! Let me show you how it’s done!”) What a steal! Right, P.T.?

Randy Youngman has been writing about golf in California, at the professional and amateur levels, for more than 20 years. He is also an admitted golfaholic.


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