One of the things I enjoy doing in my spare time is turning a beat up golf club into something that anyone would be happy, maybe even proud, to put into play. I have a very limited tool set and workshop so this means I’m stuck doing a lot of tedious work by hand. Personally, I prefer this method because each club I do has signs of genuine TLC. I don’t have the degree of craftsmanship you may see out of Ken Uselton or Spry Evolutions, but I put a lot of time and effort into turning a club into a unique custom piece that makes me, or its rightful owner happy.
Recently, I was approached by my good friend, Dan, asking if I could do a putter for him. After spending some time discussing what he was looking for, we made some decisions and decided to cover every detail we had the means to address. Below is what we came up with.
Read on for background on the story, but also some tips and guidance on possibly doing one of these projects yourself. If you just want to see pictures, there’s a lot, so just skip over the writing, I understand!
DISCLAIMER: I do not offer putter refinishing as a service. For Odyssey replacement inserts you can visit spryevo.com.
When Dan was looking into what putter he wanted to do, he knew I had done some interesting things with Odyssey putters so he asked for a recommendation for a good blade putter. Lately, I have had a fondness for working with the White Hot Tour #1 so I strongly suggested this to him. Dan acquired a pretty beat Odyssey White Hot Tour #1 from eBay for a good price. Being the genius that I am, I didn’t take any “before” pictures, but a quick Google search will show you that this putter comes stock with a “tour-preferred bronze” finish. This is a plenty good-looking finish, but it’s not what Dan wanted so the finish would have to be removed.
Dan also wanted to replace the stock insert with something different. Based on previous experience, I also suggested we remove and replace the sole “weights” as well. Dan agreed and the work began.
The first step was to remove all of the inserts. This process is really easy if you aren’t looking to preserve any of the existing hardware, but if you want to save the original parts, it can be a little tricky. I tend to save everything because I never know when a project will come up where I might need those parts.
After removing the inserts, the next step was to take out all the major dings the best I could. This was done using a hand file, belt sander, and a bench-mounted grinding wheel. Depending on the condition of the putter, this isn’t a perfect process, but it usually works pretty well if you have some patience and a steady hand.
Once I was done with all of the major blemish work, I hit the putter with an 80 grit sandpaper to get the remaining finish off and start evening out the various file marks and lines. After that, I went back over the putter again with a 220 grit sandpaper to get a more even finish.
After the previous phases of dry sanding, I went over the putter again with a 220 grit, but this time I wet sanded the putter. This gives a little smoother finish, and once it’s even on the putter, I followed the same wet sanding process with 400 grit sandpaper.
Ultimately, I wanted to get as much of a polished finish as I could. I proceeded to wet sand the putter with 600 grit, 800 grit, and then 1000 grit sandpaper to get a nice high polish. It’s hard to get into the cracks and corners, but this is one of those things I chalk to hand work versus bigger tools. If I had the sandblaster going, and different medias, then we start talking some different appearances.
Once I was finished with the 1000 grit wet sanding, I used a metal polish to buff the putter. At this point, I could have left the putter as is and it would have looked pretty nice as is, but Dan wanted a different finish.
Dan wanted to do a lot of custom stamping. He wanted to put his initials on one of the bumpers, the year on cavity side of the neck, and his initials again on the face side of the neck.
As you can see, I had a case of the “highly-desired” double stamp on the bumper. Some putter makers leave this and it becomes an expensive, highly-touted collector’s piece, but I just felt it was a sloppy stamp. In some cases, this can be corrected by one more good, solid, deep stamp. That’s how I fixed the issue on this putter.
You’ll see the blue painters tape on the bumper. This is a trick people use to help line up their stamps and keep them in place while stamping. You can create a sort of “stencil” by using the masking tape.
Now that all the metal work was done, it was time to start working on the finish. Based on some previous putters Dan had seen, he wanted a dark bronze/copper torch finish. I suggested letting a little purple and blue come through because this is ALWAYS the best part of torching a putter. You get a nice “chameleon” effect from looking at the club at different angles in different light.
A key thing to remember when torching a club is that it is imperative that you degrease the club, then scrub it nice and clean. I would even go so far as saying you should give it an acetone rinse after degreasing and scrubbing. When you torch a club, every little defect and spot will show through whether it’s a finger print or a rust pit.
After torching the putter to the desired color, it was time to do paint. This is a fairly easy process once you know what you’re doing. I chose silver, metal flake blue, and white to match the rest of the accessories that would go with the putter and they just flat out looked cool with the new finish. The beauty of paint? You can change it anytime!
With the painting done, it was time to put the pieces back together. I worked with Charles at Spry Evolutions to get a nice carbon fiber insert for the face. This carbon fiber is the same that is used on Formula 1 cars and is made in Italy. Charles then hand shapes and finishes it out of his shop in North Carolina. This insert has incredibly soft feel but doesn’t lose that responsive you often lose in a traditional non-metal insert. In addition to the face insert, Charles also made me a set of one-off prototype copper weights to bring the total head weight up. The copper weights really give the sole of the putter a nice look, but also help put a nice roll on the ball.
With the putter head itself complete, it was time for the finishing touches. Recently, Best Grips had acquired a new type of leather that had a carbon fiber looking finish to it. I thought this would be absolutely appropriate for this project. I worked with Albert at Best Grips to make a custom putter grip with blue stitching and a matching custom 1/1 silver carbon fiber leather Puttershoe for the headcover. I couldn’t have been happier with how these two pieces turned out (as usual).
I was pretty happy with how this project turned out. It looked great and performed better. As usual, by the time I was done with it, I was pretty over the whole thing and wasn’t as excited about it. Then Dan showed up at my house with his girlfriend on a sunny Sunday afternoon to pick up the putter. When his eyes lit up and he had the excitement of a new putter that is truly what he wanted and made for him, it made the time and effort worth it and revitalized my enthusiasm for the project. I’m not in the business to make a living customizing putters by any means. It’s a hobby that enables me to do some fun things, but it’s experiences like this that really make it enjoyable.
Special thanks to Charles at Spry Evolutions for his assistance in making sure we got the inserts just right, and to Albert at Best Grips for making the Puttershoe and grip customization so easy and so fast! These guys are truly a pleasure to work with on every project.