Antique Golf Club Restoration
Antique Golf Clubs. Over many years I’ve put my clubmaking skills together to save and restore many hickory shafted golf clubs. More so with irons than woods. It seems most golf memorabilia golf collectors are more interested in irons. Part of that no doubt is the fact that you can learn a lot about who made the club and the period it was made because of all the “cleek” stampings on the back of the blade. So let’s talk irons.
Many antique golf club collectors are horrified if anything is done to change the condition of a club that could be 100 plus years old. “Leave it the way it is” they say. Don’t change the patina that has built up on the head, don’t clean the grip, don’t replace a missing linen whipping on the grip even if you have the same linen thread that was used in the club’s original production. Never touch or repair the condition of the shaft even if it’s loose in the hosel.
D. Anderson & Sons
All that’s fine, those collectors have a right to their opinion. For me if I find a club needing some tender loving care, then I’m going to oblige. Recently I restored a D. Anderson & Sons of St. Andrews “Monarch Special” cleek. The head was almost black, the shaft hadn’t been cleaned or seen any oil for decades and the grip although somewhat worn was tight on the shaft, (under all the grime). It just so happens the founder of D. Anderson & Sons is my Great Grandfather David. And I’m very sure he would approve of me working on a club produced by his company. Bringing it back to as close as possible to its original condition. He might even be very surprised that 100 plus years after being made it’s a collector’s piece.
To make a point, there are people in art who specialize in restoring century old masterpieces. They painstakingly repair any damage to the canvas and original oil painting. With special solvents they remove the old dull and discolored varnish that was originally used to protect the masterpiece. The restoration process may take months and possibly years. The object being, to bring the painting back to life by showing the artist’s work in all its beauty and original colors. Just as it was on the day of completion.
Great Grandfather David possibly worked on this club. The photo shows him wearing a workshop apron (surrounded by his five sons). As I worked on restoring the cleek I had to wonder which one of my great uncles might have work on and held this club in his hands.
The Burke Golf Company
Another antique restoration I recently completed was such an unusual and I believe rare club, I think it’s worth mentioning. This mashie was produced by the Burke Golf Company out of Newark, Ohio. I believe production numbers might have been low, as no doubt Burke stopped making this model, when the club because its deep “checkered pattern” face markings, was ruled illegal.
When I was asked to restore it I knew there would be many hours involved. It seemed that someone had put some kind of paint all over the head and along with that the shaft was split and broken along about 12 inches of its length. The leather hand-wrapped grip was sadly in need of a good clean and the application of leather restoring oil. After the work was finished I mounted the mashie on an oak plaque with an engraved plate showing some of the club’s details. In the end it looked beautiful and the owner is very pleased with the finished results. And another antique club has been saved.
When I do a antique club restoration I like to supply the owner with the club’s specification along with some information and history on the company that manufactured the club. This information might interest you, so here is the Burke info.
BURKE ROTARY MODEL-DEEP-GROOVE CHECKERED PATTERN FACE MASHIE
Circa 1920-1925: Because of the face stamping, either the USGA or the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (or both) ruled this club to be illegal
- Type: Mashie Men’s Right Hand
- Head: Forged Montel Steel. Shows some ding marks. Overall condition very good
- Face: Deep-groove checkered (waffle) pattern stamping. Overall condition very good
- Loft: 47 degrees
- Shaft: Hickory, the shaft is straight and in excellent condition. Tight in the hosel
- Shaft Length: 36 inches
- Weight: 15.14 oz. (429.4 grams)
- Grip: Hand-wrapped dark brown leather. The grip is original and shows some wear marks but is in very good condition considering the club is nearing 100 years old
- Note: The Rotary model mashie mounted on this plaque has cleek marks that help in assessing the clubs date of production and today’s value.
This mashie club is a beautiful example of the Burke club-makers’ skills
The BURKE COMPANY. Newark, Ohio. Founded in 1903 by William Burke. The company manufactured buggy whips. Around 1910 realizing that with the event of the motor vehicle, demand for its product would decrease; Burke looked for other products to produce using hickory. The decision was made to make hickory golf shafts to supply the new and quickly expanding United States golf market.
The BURKE GOLF COMPANY: The name change to the Burke Golf Company took place in 1910. The company stared assembling their own clubs by trading hickory shafts for iron heads with the George Nicoll Company of Fife, Scotland. They also made their own line of putters using aluminum heads supplied by the Mills Company of England. Starting in 1911 golf bags and balls were also manufactured.
Burke manufactured millions of golf clubs. At one time it was regarded as the largest club maker in the world. The production included dozens of different models stamped with a large and interesting array of “cleek stampings”. Records show that in 1913 the 175 employees were making 5,000 clubs every day. The majority of this production was in low to medium priced clubs sold in department stores. The top-of-the-line model was the Grand Prize.
Club-Face: The deep-face checkered (waffle) pattern was ruled illegal. Because of this, its production may have been short-lived. Also making it a club harder to find is a possibility, because many irons of this model may have been discarded or destroyed.
In George Georgiady’s book “Wood Shafted Golf Club Value Guide” (4th edition 2000) he values the “Rotary Model Deep-Groove Checkered Face “Montel” at $200. In Chuck Furjanic’s book “Antique Golf Collectibles” printed in 1997, he puts the value at between $300 and $675 depending on condition. All information available specifies the face pattern being the “lower-half-face-checkered” and the “top-half-face-deep-groove lines”. It’s possible that this “full-face-checkered” model is rarer and more valuable.
- The garland of flowers with the Burke name and Rotary was used from 1915-1925. However the usual and much higher production volume stamping was Grand Prize and not Rotary.
- The triangle with INCO inside a smaller triangle designate the International Nickel Company. Stamped in the larger triangle is MONTEL METAL. In 1920 INCO made Burke their exclusive distributor.
- The Scottish Thistle: Burke used this mark circa 1915-1925
- The other stampings are MASHIE and SPECIAL.
Hope you enjoyed this little bit of golf history
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