How to Clean Old Collectible Wood Golf Clubs

Updated April 17, 2017

Golfers have been spoiling long walks with their sport since the 1400s. Although today's players use clubs made from titanium, zirconia and graphite, the earliest duffers drove their balls with club shafts carved from woods such as hickory. The first wooden head clubs appeared in the 1800s, and golfers continued to use these clubs until steel-built clubs took prominence in the 1930s. As of 2010, wooden clubs have become collectors' items. If you own a set, you can maintain their value through periodic cleaning and care.

Scrape away the rust and corrosion from the metal club face --- if the club has a metal face --- with the fine-grade abrasive paper. Use a slow and steady motion to carefully remove only the rust and corrosion so that as much of the metal finish remains intact. Don't use coarse-grade papers, as these can cut into the metal of the head.

Scrape away the rust and corrosion from the sole plates, if these plates are present on your clubs. Not every club will have a sole plate, which is usually made of brass. Use the fine-grade paper.

Unwind any fraying leather grip, and then restring it around the neck of the shaft in the original stringing pattern. If necessary, sew the grip back into place with linen thread and needle. Do not use epoxy or glue to reattach the leather grip.

Rub saddle soap into the leather grip with a towel to clean it. Apply olive oil to the leather to preserve its suppleness.

Wipe away any grime from the wooden shaft with a towel and warm water. Dry the shaft immediately with a towel.

Rub paste wax into the wooden shaft to preserve its finish, applying it in the same direction as the grain. Continue applying wax until you have created a thin, even layer of wax across the entire surface of the club's shaft. Remove any excess wax with a dry towel.


If you use your antique clubs to play golf, you should clean them with a towel and warm water and immediately dry them after every round.


Store your collectable antique clubs in a cool, dry environment. Excessive heat can cause the wood and leather to dry out. Wood stored in a hot climate needs frequent applications of wax to preserve its quality.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine-grade abrasive paper
  • Paste wax
  • Saddle soap
  • Towels
  • Olive oil
  • Warm water
  • Linen thread (optional)
  • Needle (optional)
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About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.