Collecting used golf gear is a fascinating hobby, considering how much the average golf club has changed over time, but maintaining those old clubs is often a challenge. Just how do you refinish a hickory shaft or deal with surface rust on a classic set of irons? Even though our gear is gently used, we still know a thing or two about fixing up old clubs.
If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit some cool old irons from a relative that left them in storage way too long, that surface rust is easy to clean off the club. Start by scrubbing off the rust with a piece of steel wool dipped in a vinegar solution. The acid will help the steel wool work through the rust spots. Keep in mind that this is only a good idea for irons you actually want to use or display — cleaning antiques can be damaging to their value in the long run.
Once you’ve got the surface rust worked off the shaft, switch to the face. Attack the grooves with a hard bristled toothbrush and your vinegar solution. I want to caution you against using a wire brush on the grooves on your irons’ faces — this can easily damage those grooves and change how the club functions.
You can clean the grip with a toothbrush and warm, soapy water, but it might be a better idea to regrip your irons after your cleaning. Once you’ve cleaned your clubs to your satisfaction, make sure to rinse them thoroughly. When they’re dry, just polish and buff them with an all-purpose metal polish and you’re ready to play or display!
Dull, Dry Wooden Woods
Old woods are really cool clubs to find, but they’re often dry, brittle or at least in need of a good shining up. You can refinish them with minimal work if the wood is completely sound and have something incredibly special in your collection (or your bag!). Start by taking the grip off so you can check the integrity of the whole shaft.
Then sand the whole club down with 60 grit sandpaper, removing anything shiny or colored. Next, finely sand with a 150 grit sandpaper and finally, finish off with super fine 0000 steel wool. Once the whole club is finely sanded, wipe it down with a cloth or dust it off with a clean paintbrush so no little flecks of finish or wood remain.
Apply four or five coats of boiled linseed oil to the entire club, rubbing it deep into the wood to moisturize and bring out the wood’s natural beauty. You’ll want to give the clubs plenty of time to soak the oil in, so allow at least four hours between coats. When the club is completely dry, seal it all with clear shellac. It’s important that you use a product designed to cover oil-based finishes or it won’t stick for long.
After the shellac dries, two coats of exterior rated polyurethane will give the golf club the hard shine that will bring out its natural beauty.