Vintage golf clubs, I love ’em!
It’s been a great source of joy to me that as a part of my business I’ve had thousands of them pass through my hands over the years. Some of them I’ve held onto, especially some cool old putters and wedges. Some of them I have kept and play with on the course. (I have a set of Ping Eye 2 Blue Dot Irons, and a set of Henry Griffiths Irons. I got the PE2’s on eBay, and I was lucky enough to find the full set of HG irons at a thrift store!)
Some of the vintage golf clubs I’ve found have been so cool in their design or so plentiful in their production that they caused me to want to research the clubs, the makers, and the golfers who endorsed them. (And you’ll see more posts about that research here on The Golf Artist blog).
So, where do I get all of the clubs? Mostly thrift stores so far, some I’ve found at metal scrap yards, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive access to a few private collections, those have been a gold mine!
The thrill of the hunt never fades, it’s always fun to come across a thrift store that has piles or tubs full of clubs, and to sort through them. I only use vintage forged, muscle back irons for my reclaimed wood golf plaques, and I grab a few cool vintage woods to use for coat hooks and coat racks. Sometimes I’ll stumble upon collectible putters too, like TP Mills, or Acushnet or Ping.
I’ve gone out to the practice putting green at times with 6-8 vintage putters and just enjoyed the feeling of rolling putts with all of them, comparing the feel and the sight lines of each one. Bliss! Especially after gathering them from a variety of thrift stores. I am familiar with dozens of thrift stores within a 50 mile radius of me and what their restocking frequency is , and how they price their clubs.
The private collections have been awesome to check out, going to someone’s house and seeing a golf lover’s collection of vintage golf clubs that took decades to assemble. I visited one gentlemen who had 4000 clubs in his basement. I bet close to a quarter of them were putters! Another man allowed me to look at and purchase a portion of his dad’s collection. his dad was a lifetime golf pro. I love the history of the game and thinking about the thousands of golf shots hit with all of those clubs!
One of the cool things about my work is that I get to collect golf clubs and I get to see and put my hands on thousands of vintage golf clubs, but I don’t have to store them! Sure I usually have 100-200 clubs laying around at any given time (ok maybe 300), but I’m constantly making art with them, so I get the joy of collecting them AND sharing them! Most of the clubs that I’ve salvaged have ended up as art in someone’s home or office, and they are golf gifts that people have loved to give and to receive. THAT is rewarding.
And as a golf geek, just seeing and learning about all the different club makers and models has been really fun. Between google and wiki and golfwrx, there is a ton of information out there on most golf clubs that I find.
What are my favorites so far? I think it’s got to be the putters. So much variety in style and materials used, tons of creativity, and some super-quirky ones too. I like the old “butter knife” irons as well, from the early part of the 20th century- small batch, hand stamped metal, named “mashie” and “niblick”, autographs of obscure golfers. those are fun.
I’ve been collecting since 2012 and it’s still fun, and I still come across stuff I hadn’t seen or known about. Stay tuned for some more specific posts on cool vintage golf clubs. I’m looking forward to writing them for my fellow golf nerds!