Vintage / Antique Wood Golf Club Values and Price Guide
First things first! If your looking for a value on your wood shaft golf clubs, the first thing you need to do is to make sure that the shaft is in fact made of real wood. Many club manufactures have produced clubs that have metal shafts with a wood grain finish. Grab a magnet and check this first, because if it's metal, you are already wasting your time...
Check to see if the magnet sticks mid way along the shaft since some metal core shafts from the 1930's onward do have real wood inserts at the top of the grip which could fool you into believing the club has a hickory shaft. Antique wood golf club guides can help verify age.
How to estimate the value of old hickory shaft golf clubs
For starters, a good guide for determining a clubs value is the Wood Shafted Golf Club Value Guide by Peter Georgiady Learning about wood golf clubs is where the fun merges with finding, collecting, and maybe even becoming a dealer of these classic fairway relics. The more you know, the better you will be at spotting the really valuable, and sometime priceless gems of the antique golf club market.
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One thing you need to know right off the git-go is that rarity is the major governing factor in high priced wooden golf club values. Hickory shaft clubs are not really that rare. Millions of hickory shaft clubs were made so there are still oodles of hickory shaft clubs still around.
The basic rule on antique wooden shaft golf club value is in general, the older the rarer, the rarer the more value... Now that being said, obviously there are some variables to that rule. Quality, limited production, and history or original famous owner or name like Tom Morris on a club are just some other instances where value can be dramatically increased.
Some clubs tend to be more rare than others because they were expensive, or made in limited quantities. This doesn't insure your club is worth more, but many from this circumstance are. It's important to realize that millions of low grade wood golf clubs were made and sold through department, hardware, and sporting goods stores when the sport was booming in the early 1900's. Spalding, Wilson, MacGregor, Burke, Kroydon, Hillerich & Bradsby, George Nicoll, Wright & Ditson and scores of others were made and sold everywhere.
Factors that indicate your clubs are common and at the low end of the value chart include:
- Stainless steel, chromed, or chromium heads
- Clubs with dots, hyphens, lines or other face markings.
- Metal caps at the end of the grip.
- Yardage ranges stamped on the back (70-100) (100-125) (140-150) yards.
- Numbered irons from sets, or "matched set" irons that have numbers instead of the old names.
- No manufacturer's name, or common names like: Hollywood, Thistle, Biltmore, Bonnie, Metropolitan, Columbia, Ace, Majestic and other commonly high produced, low quality clubs.
An average club in average condition might be worth $30 + -, whereas a rare club set like the Spalding Bobby Jones Hickory-Shafted Golf Clubs, ca. 1933 have an appraised value of $5,000 - $7,000.
Some of the features that indicate your club is a more valuable, scarce or rare find include:
- Wood headed putters.
- Irons or putters with unusual shaped heads.
- Irons with no face markings, or unusual face markings.
- Woods that have a thick curved oval neck, covered with 4 or 5 inches of string whipping.
- Smooth face irons with the following names: Anderson, Army & Navy, Ayres, Carrick, Forgan, Gray, Morris, Park, and White, and certain Condie, Gibson, MacGregor, NicoIl, Spalding, Stewart, and Wright & Ditson smooth faced.
What to look for in the condition of your hickory golf clubs for value and pricing purposes:
- Clubs that show lots of use, rust, pitting, have a warped or cracked shaft or hosel, bad or missing grips, are not of 'high quality" or that have been cleaned, restored or refinished are the "least desired" and bring lower prices. Cleaning and restoring is generally a big no-no and will only harm the clubs value.
- For top dollar, collectors prefer the look of natural patina and original, or slightly used condition to pay in the higher price ranges. Original is best, original shaft, original grip, original condition...
Putting a value on your golf clubs:
The approach for valuing antique wood golf clubs can vary quite a bit, but It really depends on your ability to identify what it is, it's age and condition, the manufacturer and how rare it may be. These factors along with any influential history the club may have (was it used by someone famous?) help determine how collectible it is, and ultimately, it's value.
One way to date the age of a wood golf club is by looking at the design of the "cleek mark". These designs sometimes varied several times and can be used to date a golf clubs age. One of the best sources for cleek mark data is Cleek Marks and Trademarks on Antique Golf Clubs by Peter Georgiady, a valuable resource for deciphering these unique markings.
Value is also influenced by the package. Are the clubs all one original set with the proper antique golf club descriptions and markings (driving iron, mid iron, mashie, spade mashie, pitching niblick, niblick or baffing spoon etc.) or are they a mix match set acquired over time? Full matching sets are much more Collectible when looking to buy antique wood golf clubs.
Originality: Are the shafts and grips original?
- Grips: If the grips are all the same on a matching set, it's likely they are original.
- Shafts: Look at the top of the club hosels (the part where the club head and shaft come together). Check the "pin" that holds the shaft in place, doest it look rough like it was worked on, or is it not smoothly aligned with the hosel. Are there are any dents or tool marks you can see or feel (not the little notches at the top, but dings in the side of the hosel where you would grip it with a tool for shaft removal). If any of these signs exist, it's likely the shaft has been replaced. Also, some club markers put their mark on the original shaft near the grip. Original is better
- Club Face: Completely smooth club faces are pre-1910. Hand imprinted dots are older than smooth machine pressed dots. Machine imprinted lines are usually later than dots.
Features of Woods - Wooden Headed Clubs
- Long Nose Golf Clubs (pre-1885)
- Transitional Golf Woods (1885 - 1890)
- Bulger Golf Woods ( Scared or Splice Neck 1895 - 1910 )
- Bulger Golf Woods ( Socket Neck 1910 - 1935 )
- Aluminum Head ( 1895 - 1935 )
Features of Irons - Smooth Face & Pattern face
- Early Golf Irons ( pre 1850 )
- Smooth Face Irons ( 1850 - 1910 )
- Pattern Face Irons ( 1910 - 1935 )
Features of Putters - Smooth Face & Pattern face
- Steel Blade Head Smooth Face 1890's
- Steel Blade Head Pattern Face
- Aluminum Head (1895 - 1935 )
- Wooden Headed ( Splice join pre-1900 )
- Wooden Headed ( Socket join post 1900 )
Valuating a golf clubs fair market price:
- In today's market, a full set of matching conventional hickory shaft golf clubs will bring around $400 + -
- Individual clubs in good condition will bring around $30 for each club, unless rare or unusual which will bring more.
- Individual clubs in poor condition may be worth as little as $5 each with warped shafts and missing grips.
- Smooth face clubs are older and should be worth $60 or more per club, even substantially more!
In general, less than 5% of all hickory wood shafted clubs have value beyond decorative or playable worth.
Rough Ballpark Retail Pricing: Do Your Own Homework!
|Common Club Prices General Condition|
|Irons||$20.00 to $30.00|
|Putters||$25.00 to $40.00|
|Woods||$40.00 to $70.00|
|Common Club Prices Premium Condition|
|Irons||$30.00 to $50.00|
|Putters||$40.00 to $60.00|
|Woods||$85.00 to $120.00+|