In 2007, Sotheby's auctioned a collection of vintage golf clubs for more than $2 million. You might never reach those heights, but a vintage golf club collection can still prove to be a rewarding hobby. Unfortunately, as with many collectibles, you'll have to look through a lot of junk to find the gold. Finding the rare clubs most prized by collectors will take expertise, patience and luck.
The Golf Collectors Society holds a series of regional trade shows throughout the year. Visit a show to see the wide range of golf collectibles available, chat with dealers and other club collectors, and learn the kinds of vintage clubs most in demand. Check the GCS webpage for dates and locations of shows. The website also offers a reading list for new collectors, including guides for identifying vintage clubs, determining fair prices and cleaning or preserving your investments.
Building Your Collection
If luck is with you, a relative or older friend might have stored away old clubs from their younger days. If not, try checking garage or estate sales, thrift stores and auctions. Sports memorabilia and antique stores also sell vintage clubs, but these will be priced to the collector's market, making a bargain harder to find.
Once you've found an older club, should you buy it? Golf club pricing guide author Chuck Furjanic's website cautions that millions of older clubs were mass-produced and have little appeal to modern collectors. Clubs that have been refinished or had parts replaced also have little value. With that in mind, build your collection by limiting purchases to clubs that either personally appeal to you or that you've been able to research through trade shows and reference books.
Setting a Price
What to do when it's time to sell a piece of your prized collection? GCS says that vintage golf club prices are set like other antiques. Condition, rarity, quality and age all play a role, but the most important factor is demand from other collectors. GCS recommends checking pricing guides and attending trade shows to learn all you can about club value.
Old clubs with yard ranges, dots, lines or other markings on the face are generally part of low-budget club sets and do not have much value. Other signs of low value include stainless steel heads, metal edges on the grip, and no manufacturer's name on the club.