This is a post that I put together in February of this year (2011). I never got around to posting it because the results were not great. However, I do think my experiences would be beneficial for someone out there looking to do this.

With this post, I was attempting to remove a putter grip without damaging it. Iomic grips can be $25/grip. As such, finding a cost-effective way of removing them from old putters can be a beneficial way to save money, as putter grips tend not to wear out as quickly as others. I had a putter with an Iomic grip, and I am not a fan of Iomic grips. I decided to pull it both because I had a friend I could give it to and because I thought it might be a good topic for the blog.

Here’s what I used:
1. mineral spirits
2. an old paper towel roll
3. a large plastic bag, preferably zip-lock (must be sealed to fluid–shopping/trash bags will not work)
4. a sink drain
5. a prop (in this case, a wire rack and a cutting board)
6. a screwdriver

Typically, when I install grips, I use standard grip tape. I place mineral spirits on the grip tape to loosen the bond, slide the grip on, wait 15 minutes, and I’m ready to go. I decided that this process might work in reverse–if I could get the mineral spirits inside the grip, perhaps I could slip it off.

To do this, I took the large plastic bag, and put it over the grip end of the shaft. I placed the bag and the putter grip (still over the end of the shaft) into the paper towel roll as a means to restrict the expansion of the bag, thereby requiring as little mineral spirits as possible into the bag. I then filled the bag up with mineral spirits until the level of the fluid was higher than the edge of the grip. I let it sit for 20 minutes to allow it to “soak in.” See photos below.

What I failed to realize is that the mineral spirits does not penetrate well. I’ve heard of others using WD-40 because it penetrates small spaces better and contains mineral spirits in it–I might try that next time. Regardless, my vision of the grip slipping off with ease was nowhere near reality. Instead, I worked the mineral spirits down into the grip using a screwdriver to GENTLY pry away the grip from the shaft (be careful–I’ve broken more than one grip trying to do this). Eventually, enough got in that I was able to twist some parts of the grip relative to the shaft. I worked at it for 15 or so minutes, which was an enormous amount of effort. Eventually, the grip came loose.

If I had another Iomic grip, I could probably do this again with better success if I tried WD-40 instead and/or if I had a better tool to work the mineral spirits down into the grip. Something thin, fairly rigid, and as long as the grip would work best–perhaps a portion of an old shaft? Regardless, the method did work, but it was not as simple as I expected. It probably would not be worth the effort for a $4 Lampkin or Golf Pride grip.

If you have access to an air compressor, use that method (blowing into the hole on the end of the grip). However, if you’re like me and prefer an at-home DIY method, this might be a viable method, assuming you make a few tweaks.

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12/31/2011 Update

I tried this method again recently, except I did two things differently. First, I did not soak the grip as shown. Instead, I just used a small screwdriver to pry the grip away and squirted fluid between the grip and shaft, working the grip around until it came off. Second, I used acetone instead of mineral spirits, which worked MUCH better. Some photos are shown below.




The issue with this method is shown in the last photo. If your grip has anything painted on it, acetone may loosen the paint and cause some damage. However, for most grips, this isn’t an issue, and you’ll be able to save it without much loss–or, you can simply repaint the portions missing.

Anyone who reads the PF regularly knows how LG and I feel about our golf equipment–utterly superstitious. Inexplicably, we feel a connection to certain equipment that gives us more confidence. Whether it’s good balls numbered 7 or fairway woods that are 7 years old, LG and I have the things we each like.

For me, once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. In accord with that, I REALLY like my wedges. I have figured out how to set them up correctly for me and my touch. The only problem is that I’ve basically worn them out. See photos below.





In accord with it, I looked at replacing them. However, I got such a good deal on them, there’s no way I could afford $190/head to replace them new (see http://www.fourteengolf.com/product/detail.shtml?P=53 and http://www.tourspecgolf.com/Fourteen-2010-MT-28-V5-Forged-Wedge). Them, I found out about rechroming.

Several places do it, but for price and quality (based on reviews), I chose to use The Iron Factory (http://www.theironfactory.com/) and well-known iron restoration specialist Jim Kronus. Kronus provided chroming services to many OEMs years ago but now provides services for orders as small as $30. When I contacted his business, I got a personal call from the man himself to discuss my order and to answer my questions on the process.

Placing an order is as simple as providing a letter stating what you want Jim to do, putting the heads in a box (small flat-rate box from the post office is $5.00), and sending them away to the address on The Iron Factory website. When the heads arrive, Jim will call you personally to confirm your order, take your credit card information, and answer any questions you may have. We discussed the need for the grooves to remain conforming to the new 2010 groove rule, and he informed me of some ways he could make it happen.

About a week and a half later, I received my rechromed wedge heads, as shown below:






Yes, those are the same clubs. I couldn’t believe it. Jim did a fantastic job. Not only do they grind out all of the dings and dents to make the soles smooth again, Jim adds back the requisite chrome to keep the head weight the same as when they came in.

Drawbacks, they weren’t super cheap, but they weren’t expensive either. At $38/head to regroove, restore, and rechrome (shipping included), I can’t really complain. I will say that I believe I asked at one point for bright chrome and I believe I received satin chrome, but I am not concerned: these look great, and bright chrome may been a bit too reflective for wedges. The last thing is that Jim sends all his orders out with signature confirmation. Since I wasn’t there to sign for the box, I had to go to the post office to get my box, which was a hassel given that it’s nearly Christmas.

However, the communication was great, and the final product was beautiful at a reasonable price. I’m very happy, and I’m looking forward to getting out there with these.

Price: 7
Value: 9
Communication: 9
Customer Service: 7
Quality: 9
Overall: 8

Merry Christmas

December 24, 2011

From us here at the PF, we wish you a merry Christmas.

-JK & LG

Today I review Black Oxide Service, provider of metal finishing services. bosgolf.com

BOS is well-known in the golf industry–particularly in the putter world–for their outstanding finishing of some of the best-looking clubs in the game. BOS is responsible for the finish of Scotty Cameron’s original Gun Blue Classics line of putters, the line that put Cameron on the map. BOS also has worked on Scratch clubs recently, providing some special finishes for their wedges.

After tinkering around with the idea of refinishing/reworking clubs myself, I got in touch with BOS to clean up some Cameron putters for me. Consistent readers will know that I restored a Cameron TeI3 putter (see https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/restoring-a-tei3-long-neck/) but was unhappy with the cold-blue finish, even after several tries to get it right. Although I learned a lot from the restoration process, I decided I wanted something unique, so I sent my putter to BOS for their “Aquamarine” finish, a green-blue hued finish.

Coincidentally, I was able to pick up a Cameron Newport Oil Can putter for a good price. Although the putter did not need much work to repair dings or dents, its finished had been stripped because–according to the prior owner–“it had been left in a garage and was all rusty, so some stuff was put on it to take the rust off.”

Below is what the Newport Oil Can looked like before sending to BOS. Look at the post on restoring the TeI3 (here: https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/restoring-a-tei3-long-neck/)for photos as to what that putter looked like before.




The result was utterly stunning:










Refinishes from BOS are not cheap (see http://www.bosgolf.com/finishes.html) However, if you can find an old Scotty Cameron putter for a good price, they can be a cost-effective alternative to the Cameron Custom Shop and can even allow you the ability to customize the finishes yourself–putting something like Aquamarine on a Cameron putter would never be allowed from the Custom Shop. Further, if you just wanted a nice putter that was basically new but didn’t want to spend the $300 for a new Cameron or much more for an old one in good shape, a refinish by BOS can be a great way to get that putter of your dreams for a fraction of the price.

BOS’s customer service was great as well. For the TeI3, some of the finish peeled off. BOS repaired the problem at no charge, and it looks good as new.

Downsides, the cost is pretty high. They refuse to ship anything other than UPS, so shipping is $17.50 for a single putter head (yikes!). But their customer service is fantastic, and although some have complained of long lead times, they got my putters back to me in just a few weeks.

Price: 4
Quality: 8
Turnaround: 7
Customization: 8
Customer Service: 9
Ovarall: 7

Today, we review the home course of the NCGA – Poppy Hills in Monterey, CA.  One quick note about this course prior to the review: JK and I had planned on playing this course during our first trip to Monterey, but never got around to it because we were both exhausted after playing Spanish Bay.  After this round, JK, I can tell you we made the right decision.  Not because the course isn’t worth playing–it definitely is, but it would have kicked our butts and likely not been the ocean course experience we were looking for during this trip.  Had the weather been like this during our trip though, there’s very little doubt in my mind we would have been out there.  The pictures tell the story.  Onward!

Poppy is a beautiful Robert Trent Jones designed course located in the heart of Pebble Beach.  Driving there gave me a heightened sense of excitement as compared to the usual round of golf because the last time I drove down 17 mile drive, I was on my way to play Pebble.  Rather than take the scenic drive down toward the water, however, the road twisted and turned back into the hills and opened up to this wonderful 18 hole facility.

The course, pro shop, and practice facility at Poppy are outstanding — there is very little I can say that hasn’t been said by the prizes that Poppy’s pro shop has won don’t already say.  The layout is interesting and challenging.  Some of the holes feel a little tricked up, but others are simply stunning.  An example of the former is the par 4 5th hole.  At 428 yards from the black tee, the hole’s principle defense is a giant bunker on the left side, water on the approach, and a subtly tiered green.  The second shot is a demanding one, but for some reason, the man-made pond on the right makes this hole feel more contrived than natural.  Call me critical.  Full disclosure — I dropped one right into the middle of this lake after skying a driver short into the fairway.  The par 3s on this course, on the other hand, were some of the best I’ve played in a long time.  The second hole, on the other hand,was reminiscent of Pasatiempo with an absolutely enormous bunker short of the green.  Below is a view from the green back to the tee:

And now from the tee to the green:

The scorecard shows just how stout a challenge this course can provide.  My sense is that, despite its absence during my visit, the wind is a critical factor that brings the true teeth to this course on some of the shorter par 4s.

If I am being fair to myself, however, I must say I was disappointed.  The biggest downside for this course may well be the fact of its location.  Were this course near my home in the greater Bay Area, I have no doubt that I’d be the first in line to get a membership.  Because this course is next to Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Spanish Bay, Bayonet and Blackhorse, PG Muni, and a slew of private courses, however, it would not be even my 5th choice of courses to play if I were going to Monterey.  When I think of a Monterey golf experience, inevitably, I think of cypress trees, ocean winds, and, well, the ocean!!  While Poppy is a great course, the lack of ocean views, even on as clear a day as I had, sort of diminishes the experience for me.  Knowing what I know now, I would be much more enthusiastic about returning to Poppy, but would have tempered expectations based on my previous experience.  At $72 for the NCGA rate and complimentary gate access to 17 mile drive (normally $10), the deal is nearly impossible to pass up for a fantastic day of golf.

All in all, I enjoyed the day at Poppy.  The weather was, pardon the phrasing, picture perfect.  I couldn’t help thinking though, “man, I wish I’d gone to Spyglass with weather like this…”

Anyone who has read our blog over the last year or so understands the cycle: in the summer, LG and I do club reviews, course reviews, and other fun posts about golf. In the winter, there is no PGA (or, little, at least), and for the most part we’re sequestered indoors because of weather. As such, winter posts tend to focus around equipment modifications and customizations.

As such, even after a rough experience with my restoration of a TeI3 last year (see https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/restoring-a-tei3-long-neck/), I felt like it was time to get back at the restoration bug. I learned a great deal between then and now, and I have a few Spalding TP Mills putters to finish in various finishes. This should be a fun winter project.

Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s review focuses on a niche in the golf industry: customization. In this case, custom club covers.

That’s right, I said custom golf club covers. Although it sounds over the top, many golfers like to customize their bag. Your clubs should fit you like a glove–lofts, lies, grips, shafts, and more. Customizing the appearance of your clubs is an extra step many golfers take to stand out and to put their own personal stamps on the game they love. For example, looking at LG’s bag, he even has his own custom ferrules (see https://thepowerfade.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/whats-in-the-bag-lg-edition/ for LG’s custom blue ferrules, seen best on the photo of his wedges). And, would Tiger really have been as great without his notable friend, Frank?

Personally, I haven’t ever believed that I had a good enough game to customize my own bag–and, quite frankly, I didn’t have a good enough bank account. However, this year, I’ve settled into my equipment, and, as a Christmas gift to myself, I decided it was time to customize my golf bag. Having just had my second child, a custom club cover dedicated to my two children was what I wanted.

The first thing I needed to do was find someone who could make it. For that, I can tell you–look no further than DelilaH at GirlyGolfer (http://www.girlygolfer.com/CLUB%20COVERS%20MEN.html).

I emailed the contact information on the website stating I had an idea and wanted to make a cover dedicated to my children. Delila responded in no less than a week–starting with an apology for how long it had taken to get back to me!

Delila (the H is for her last name) contacted me asking whether I had a specific idea, which I did not. I pointed out a few things I thought would be important for a personal cover: (a) I wanted yellow to match my bag, which is generally yellow in honor of my alma mater, Georgia Tech; and (b) I wanted an elephant and a giraffe somewhere on the cover because those animals signify my two children. Maybe I would add my initials, but it wasn’t required. Within two days, Delila was back to me with three different design options with various pricing. After about a day of deliberation, I picked one of the options and offered a few tweaks.

Delila sent me an invoice which I paid the following morning. By the evening, I received the following picture of my completed club cover:

She boxed it for shipping that night, and I had it two days later.

Soup to nuts, from the “hey, I think I’ll get a custom club cover” to having the finished product in my hand it took Delila 10 days, and she was apologetic that it took as long as it did!

All of my reviews have a drawbacks section to highlight at least one thing I did not like about the process, the course, the application, whatever. The only thing I can say was a drawback was cost. As with any customization, the cost will not be a bargain. The custom cover shown above was $70 shipped ($64 for the cover + $6 shipping). However, Delila did an excellent job conceiving the design, making it, and putting it together, and it is an extremely high quality cover. I cannot complain about $70 for all of that work that she did. Some of the seams are not 100% straight and aligned, but I expected some variation as the covers are sewn, not mass-produced, and the small “imperfections” that might bother some purchasers give it the custom-made look that I prefer.

Altogether, I got EXACTLY what I wanted: a custom-made cover that is exactly my style and is the perfect accent to my golf bag (look for it in my upcoming What’s In The Bag post). The process was unbelievable, quick, and I could not envision it running any smoother than it did. Thanks, Delila!

Turnaround: 9
Design(s): 10
Quality: 9
Communication: 10
Price: 7
Customization: 10

Overall: 9