The value of antique golf clubs depends on supply and demand, just like all antique items. There is a significant difference in the value of antique clubs today than there was just ten years ago.
Common Golf Clubs vs. Rare Golf Clubs
When it comes to collectible antique golf clubs, it is estimated that fewer than 5% of all antique clubs with wooden shafts have collectible value beyond decorative or playable worth. The majority of the vintage or antique clubs that you will find at yard sales or on eBay are common golf clubs with very little value.
During the early to mid 1900s, common, inexpensive golf clubs were mass produced by companies such as Wilson, Spalding, Burke, MacGregor, Kroydon and many more. Common golf clubs can be identified by traits such as:
- Aluminum caps on the end of the handles
- Nickel, chromed or stainless steel heads
- Dots, lines, hyphens or other face scorings
- Stamps on the back for yard ranges
- Phrases on the back such as accurate, superior, aim-rite and other common sounding names
Common vintage golf clubs in today's market are worth $10-$20. The same club 10-15 years ago would have been worth $40-$50. The demand was much higher back then, especially with foreign buyers. The internet has helped bring a flood of antique golf clubs to the market, where the demand has steadily decreased over the last decade. Serious collectors and antique dealers have no interest in common vintage golf clubs. They are only interested in the rare and hard-to-find golf clubs.
By contrast, rare or hard to find golf clubs will have the following features:
- Unusual head shapes and wood heads
- No face markings or unusual face markings
- Unusual patented features for player's improvements
- Wood clubs with thick, curved oval necks covered with 4 to 5 inches of string whipping
- Smooth face irons made by golf club makers such as Army & Navy, Dunn, Forgan, Gray, White, Carrick and Anderson
- Deep groove wood shaft clubs called rakes or waterfalls
Rare vintage golf clubs have uncommon patents or features and were made in limited quantities that set them apart from the mass produced common clubs.
How to Find the Value of Antique Golf Clubs
If you are inexperienced at buying or selling antique golf clubs, there are resources available that can help you determine the value of antique golf clubs you may have or are thinking about buying. Books on the subject that may help include:
- Antique Golf Collectibles, A Price and Reference Guide by Chuck Furjanic
- Antique Golf Collectibles Identification & Value Guide by Peter Georgiady
- The Vintage Era of Golf Club Collectibles: Identification & Value Guide by Ronald John
You can also sell your vintage golf clubs through an antique broker online. Larry and Carole Meeker are antique dealers and own AntiqBuyer.com and Patented-Antiques.com. The Meekers will list and sell your antique golf clubs for you.
Another great resource for antique golf clubs and memorabilia are the collection of websites by antique golf club enthusiast Gavin Bottrell. Bottrell collects, deals and plays with antique Hickory golf clubs and can provide sets of these clubs dating pre-1920, to buyers for decorative or promotional purposes. He also offers antique Hickory golf clubs dating pre-1935 and pre-1900 for playing Hickory Golf. If you need to refurbish an antique golf club, Bottrell offers complete refurbishing services including re-gripping, re-shafting and re-whipping. Visit Bottrell's websites:
If you should happen to inherit a set of antique golf clubs from your recently deceased grandfather, chances are they are probably worth more to you as items with sentimental value than they would be worth on eBay. However, there is still a small chance you may be lucky enough to have inherited a set of rare vintage golf clubs that avid collectors dream of getting their hands on. It may certainly be worth your time to find out.