Make Your Putter Unique
A common inquiry I get is about painting putters for people. Given how easy it is to do yourself, I thought I would write something up to help explain how to paint your own putter (or really any golf club). You can save a ton of time and money by doing it yourself.
There are a handful of important things to remember:
- There are a million different painting techniques that work. There’s no “right way” to paint your golf club. It’s a very simple process. The end goal is to get paint onto the club and cleaned up to look nice. Whatever works for you is your “right way.”
- Nothing is permanent. If you screw up, remove the paint and start over again.
- Golf clubs take a beating. Use a high quality, strong paint.
- Be patient.
Using the right materials is key. I often see people paint their clubs with the wrong types of paints, spend a ton of time on paint removal, or struggle because of using the wrong materials. Below is my personal supply list:
- Testors enamel paints
- Metal or glass bowl
- Metal pick(s)
- Solid pointed toothpicks (lots of them)
- Q-tips (a ton of them)
- Latex gloves
- Wood block*
I can’t stress enough how much I rely on enamel paint. Most OEM clubs have very solid paints in them. My understanding is that these are typically a paint with a hard epoxy mixed in it or enamel paint that gets baked on for quicker, harder drying. I’ve tried acrylic paints, but they do not hold up well on the course. Others use nail polish, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “nail polish job” look good. Why make your club look like a cheap arts and crafts project?
*The wood block is not required, but it makes for a good work surface. It also gives you flexibility with drying positions.
As with any painting project, a nice clean surface is an absolute must. Of course, you will have to remove the old paintfill on your club first. In some cases this is a breeze and in others it’s a tough process. What I do is soak the club in a metal bowl of acetone for an extended period of time. I make sure all of the painted areas are submerged and let the acetone do the work.
After the acetone has had some time to soak, I use the metal pick to see if I can scrape paint away. If I can’t, I score the paint to allow the acetone to soak in more. Then I wait some more and try again. After a good soak, you may need to use a little elbow grease to scrape the paint out. Just keep scraping and soaking, scraping and soaking, scraping and soaking. I have heard of others using high-grade paint remover but I haven’t gone that route. Patience and being thorough is a necessity during this step.
Once the bulk of the paint is out, you can use the q-tips to mop up the bits of paint and acetone left behind. You may also notice the putter looking streaky in areas from the acetone and paint residue. This is no big deal. Just use a q-tip with clean acetone and smoothly wipe the streaks away.
Pro tip: wear latex gloves when working with the acetone. Your hands will thank you later.
Make sure your club is free of paint and acetone at this point or else your paint may struggle to properly adhere to the metal. I sometimes scrub the putter with a toothbrush and dish soap to make sure the metal is free of any grease. After all cleaning, make sure the putter is completely bone dry.
As mentioned before, there are a million different ways to paint a golf club, and any one can work. I like to use a toothpick to generously apply paint to the surface without going overboard. Remember, the more excess paint you have, the more you have to clean up.
It’s important to make sure you have a thick layer of paint, but with lots of paint comes a risk for bubbles. This is especially noticeable with translucent paints. The key is to make sure you work all of the bubbles out of the area you want painted. One technique I’ve used is to “drag” the bubbles into a spot outside of the painted area and clean it off after it dries.
The picture above is what my projects tend to look like after applying paint. This approach ensures that I’ll have a thick layer of paint in every area. It can get tricky when you have a lot of detail like this Scotty Cameron. One tip is to start in the middle and work out. This is really good advice, so keep it in mind as you get started. As you get better at painting, you’ll figure out what you can get away with and how to work around difficult areas.
The final insight I’ll give in regards to actually painting is that you need to be diligent and patient with the larger areas like the cherry bombs, weights, and lines on the sole of this Cameron. Larger surface areas are the most difficult to clean up smoothly and to get to dry evenly. Don’t be alarmed. The good news about paint is that you can clean it out and start over.
As with painting, there are a lot of different cleanup techniques that work for people. Some people like to clean up all of their paint right after applying it, some like to let it dry completely and scrape it away with a razor. My technique to is to dip a q-tip in acetone and lightly brush away the excess paint after the paint has been drying for two to three hours. Pro tip: let the paint sit for a couple of hours so it’s still soft enough to clean up easily, but tacky enough it doesn’t run everywhere when the acetone hits it. With this project, I realized that when I let the paint dry overnight, good cleanup was difficult, if not impossible.
For large areas like the cherry bombs, you need to be careful to avoid contact with the area you want to be painted because the acetone will ruin it. This takes a little touch and practice, but you’ll get the hang of it. Letters are generally pretty easy. With letters I do the same thing as above, but you can lightly wipe across the letters and still get good results. I advise using the “middle out” method mentioned above. This will have you wiping the excess paint one direction and away from any trouble. You’ll find that this makes your overall cleanup much easier.
I have been painting golf clubs for years, and while I don’t claim to be the best at it, I would say I am proficient. Still, this project really tested me and taught me a lot. I typically use Tamiya red translucent enamel because it is the best match to Scotty’s trans red, but it absolutely refused to dry smooth on this putter. After weeks of fighting it, I switched over to Testor metal flake red which is a translucent red with some flake in it (pictures don’t do it justice). That switch saved this project, and the paint dried perfectly on the first shot. As a bonus, it looks way cooler than the Tamiya paint. Between that paint switch and shortening my drying time, I learned two valuable lessons that will impact how I do all my paint projects going forward.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times, persistence and patience were the keys to successfully completing this paint project.