Antique Golf Club Appraisal

Published: 04th December 2008
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Before buying antique golf clubs, you must get into the habit of appraising it properly. Unfortunately, most of us at some time have had the experience of giving a club a simple once-over glance and then finding out after we've purchased it that it may not be the antique that we thought it was.

Here's some advice to help you appraise vintage wooden shafted golf clubs. The most important thing is to start at one end of the club and carefully work along the club, reviewing all of its components, ensuring that you have an antique golf club appraisal which is sound and reliable. As always, if you have any questions, there are a multitude of experts available who can assist you with questions or concerns. There are also many great reference materials which make appraising an antique golf club much easier.

Here in this 3 part series on antique golf club appraisal, we look at the grip, the end grain of the shaft, and wood rot as factors in determining the authenticity and value of a vintage golf club.

Inspecting the grip

Only a very small percentage of antique golf clubs have their original grip. The older the club the more chance it has been regripped when in use. Grips on hickory clubs tend to come in two main types: softish suede or hard leather. The biggest clue as to whether a grip is original is to look for small tacks (nails) or holes in the shaft from previous fittings at the bottom, and particularly, the top of the grip. Previous holes at the bottom may of course be covered by the newer grip, but it is very hard to disguise completely the holes or tacks at the top. Do not automatically become concerned if you suspect that the grip is not original. The fact that a grip is not original is not usually a factor when determining the authenticity of an antique golf club. We now move on to an inspection of the wooden shaft.

The End Grain of the Shaft

When viewing the butt end of the shaft head on, with the club face lined up as if hitting a ball, the grain of the wood should generally run left to right and not top to bottom. The grain of the hickory running in this direction also makes it less likely for the shaft to split when the club is used in play. If the grain is not in a general left to right direction, it clearly indicates that it was not fitted by a skilled club craftsman, and a validation(or not) of its vintage nature.

Wood Rot

It isn't uncommon to find wood shafts that have rotten ends at the butt end of the club. The wood may be literally falling apart or it may just be very soft. A gentle pressing with a finger on the tip can reveal any underlying condition. If the tip is falling away then you can consider removing a few inches off but you would need to know by how much before solid wood is reached. Often, it will be clear to you from the very beginning, that the club is not, nor will it ever be, playable. That does not preclude you from making it a valuable and appealing display piece. If the wood is very soft then few liberal coats of varnish can stabilize it and make it quite hard and attractive for display.

There are several more steps involved in appraising an antique golf club which we will cover in subsequent articles, enabling anyone to determine exactly what you have.

Once you have determined what you have, the next step is determining what it might be worth. For a more detailed description of the antique golf club appraisal process, and to take the next step and determine more precisely what you piece is worth, you can explore the variety of resources at our site.

Antique Golf Club Appraisal

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