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Shinnecock Hills with Hickories

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I'll preface this by saying that this is not me in these pictures, but my little brother, who routinely plays hickory clubs, and dresses like you see in these pictures.  He got invited yesterday to play there with some friends, and shot 84.  He's scratch with hickories, and he often reminds me of the day he shot 64 with them whenever I think I shoot a good round with regular modern clubs.

 

He mentioned that the tees they played were about 100 yards in front of the US Open tees, which makes sense because hickories don't go as far as the modern equipment and the most you can handle with hickories is about 6,300 yards at best.  My little brother can hit a driver about 250 with the hickories, just FYI. 

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Playing Shinnecock with hickories sounds like something

one might get to do in heaven.

 

Same thing with National Golf Links of America.

 

I'd happily fill myself up with oxy and try to do it right now.

 

What an experience if you love our game!

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They have a whole section over on WRX dedicated to Hickory Golf and you have a couple of associations (with rules and all) dedicated to Hickory golf. I have a few Hickory clubs I piddle with from time to time. My vintage golf consists of vintage steel shafted blades and persimmons. A WRX buddy of mine is coming up Tuesday to pick up some vintage Wilson Staff blades I got for him. He is going to bring his Hickory set up and we plan on playing the little executive course up the street. From what those guys tell me out and out Hickory golf can be fun but expensive. Reproduction sets are as darn near expensive as a new set of modern T-Mags or Callys. Older stuff you have to rework and reglue because the older animal based protein glues have broken down over the 100 years or so they have been in a club. On some of those SOHG events even some of the original clubs are not conforming for some reason or the other. Sounds too much like the USGA to me

 

Note--- They even have a store on the outskirts of Myrtle that sell outfits like those ones you posted. That store is called "Golf Knickers" We do see quite a few folks mostly tourists that dress like that but have yet to see any of them playing hickory clubs.

 

Was also curious to see what ball he was playing. I know several companies make over an existing ball with square dimple patterns etc. Most of those Hickory players I know over on WRX if they do not play the reproduction balls play the Wilson Duo Soft or the Wilson 50. If I am messing around with mine I use a Lady Bridgestone which I also play some with the persimmons 

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I've also read that the Wilson 50 is popular with hickory players.

 

If you're playing original woods in particular, i would think that to be dangerous regardless of ball. That's some pretty old and dry wood.

 

If you're playing reproduction woods, I'd look into whether the inserts were true fiber like the originals or a more modern plastic substitute.

 

The links courses are magnificent though.  Only the first and eighteenth are near the clubhouse. 

 

If you're only playing nine, you find your turning hole--you don't go all the way out to nine. Like living in a different time.

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I've also read that the Wilson 50 is popular with hickory players.

 

If you're playing original woods in particular, i would think that to be dangerous regardless of ball. That's some pretty old and dry wood.

 

If you're playing reproduction woods, I'd look into whether the inserts were true fiber like the originals or a more modern plastic substitute.

 

The links courses are magnificent though.  Only the first and eighteenth are near the clubhouse. 

 

If you're only playing nine, you find your turning hole--you don't go all the way out to nine. Like living in a different time.

One thing you have to watch with fiber inserts with ANY modern ball. Mr Charley Penna (as in Toney Penna's nephew) told me this a while back. All these modern plastic cover balls no matter how soft will chew up a fiber insert. One of the reasons most of the manufacturers in the 70s went to plastic inserts when the Surlyn balls came into existence. Back in the day I could not stand a plastic insert. I can remember back around the mid 70s I bought a brand new blonde Power Bilt driver still had the sock on it. First thing I did was take it over to a local club craftsman (note I said craftsman) and had him fit and install a fiber insert in it. The plastic inserts at the time along with the old "firing pin" Macgregors the ball came off the face too hot for me and tumbled like heck with the hook I had in those days. Since Mr Penna told me that I flat refuse to hit some of my persimmon Izetts and Power Bilts with fiber inserts with ANY modern ball. On occasion if I hit them I use balata which are getting extremely hard to find now days. Now that I have gotten older and my swing speed has slowed I do not put any hook spin on the ball with the plastic inserts but for me the feel is still not the same as a fiber insert.

 

As far as hitting modern balls with older clubs it depends entirely on the condition of the club. Sometimes you can bring one back by stripping the finish and sealer and soaking for a while in Linseed oil then let drip air dry. Same goes for Hickory shafts. If I had a set of original hickories and I was intent on playing them and wanted to be sure they were safe I would send them off to either Tad Moore (yes that one and only) or Dave Wood in Texas and have them recondition them. 

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To answer some of these questions/comments, my Dad introduced me and my brother to hickory golf after he retired 20 or so years ago, and he got so into hickory golf that he has his own clubmaking workshop in the basement of his house, where he makes his own clubs. My Dad hasn't done much of anything with hickory golf, or golf in general in the last five years, because he is almost 84 now and his health has deteriorated to where even playing 18 holes with a cart just isn't physically possible for him anymore. I played with my Dad in July and it's frankly painful to watch this once strong man hobble around in a golf cart and not being able to walk more than 5-10 paces from the cart without it hurting so bad that he can barely walk.

 

My little brother, Rick, who you see in these pictures went with what my Dad started him with and went nuts with it. I think what happened with my brother is that he was good enough to play in USGA qualifiers for the US Amateur and the US Open, but he'd never get past local qualifying, because he'd ultimately shoot 74-73 or something like that, and there would always be someone who would shoot 67-68 or something like that and leave my brother left out. After about 10 of these qualifiers was about the time when he discovered hickory golf. So he took to it and discovered he could actually score about as good with the hickories as he does with steel clubs, and off he went. He plays in at least 4 hickory tournaments a year, including one every year in October at Mid Pines, near Pinehurst, where they play 36 holes over two days, dress the same way, and bring their clubs, etc and go at it. Frankly, I think the Mid Pines event, the golf is secondary to the firepit and drinking that takes places at night, but I digress.

 

In answer to the equipment and ball questions, my brother uses a standard 2-piece surlyn cover golf ball. He says he prefers as soft a ball as he can find, based on the fact that the hickory shafts weren't designed for the urethane cover, which gets scuffed pretty quickly with the hickories. I do remember when I was at Mid Pines and was drafted to play the 2nd day because someone got sick and couldn't play (I think he was hungover from the night before, but I digress) I just borrowed the guy I was carted withs clubs, and hit what he had. I do know that they were playing a ball that was made specifically for the hickories, and were quite expensive. The dimples were a bit different, and they were using a different material for the cover. I honestly don't pay that close attention to all of it, and was simply there to caddy for my brother.

 

The reason I don't play hickories is for several reasons. When my Dad was introducing us to hickories he gave me a starter set to take out for a practice round, and on the 2nd hole I pulled out a wedge to hit into a green and broke the dang thing in half just swinging a ball that was buried deep in the rough. The one thing about my golf game if you play with me is that I take a huge divot. And with the force of my downswing into deep sod, I discovered that I can break a club pretty easily. Playing hickories takes a minor adjustment to your swing plane, where you shouldn't try to compress the ball so deeply with a massive divot, and as the guys who were advising me when I filled in for the guy that was sick was to simply let the club do the work. I was so petrified that I would break this guy's clubs that I overcompensated with the swing to make sure I swept through the ball, versus compressing it. I was actually happy with the way I played that day, as I think after about 3 holes I got the hang of it and was starting to score pretty well.

 

It was interesting after that match was over, because I was a fill in and not one of the competitors, but they were playing a best ball scramble of sorts with partners, and the guy I was paired up with was supposed to be the A player, and his B player was sick, so I was the B player. But I ended up playing better than the guy I was paired with, so they came to me after the round and asked me what my handicap was with hickories and I told them I didn't have one. So then they asked me what my regular handicap was, so I told them. Not sure how that ended up, but they do give out awards for the winners, etc, and they do in fact, have their own handicap system for hickory golfers.

 

As for cost to all of this, I think that is why my brother started making his own clubs, because it was starting to get really expensive. And it's not like you can walk into Edwin Watts to get new clubs whenever you want. There is a market for these clubs via ebay and other sources. Tad Moore is one clubmaker that really goes all out to create some really nice hickory clubs, and you can google him if you want. Louisville golf also manufactures some older type of clubs, including persimmons, so that's another source I know of. But the Society of Hickory Golfers is a close knit group of guys that travel around and play tournaments all over the world. If you wanted to you could probably find a tournament for hickories every month somewhere around the country. The drawback is that there is a very limited group of people, existing of about 200 guys that travel to any of these tournaments. But they have a lot of fun, and once you get involved with them they welcome you with open arms. Heck, the few times I've showed up they treat me like family for the most part. Really nice group of guys. I think that's what my brother likes about it so much.

 

And not that I do name dropping very often, but Sandy Lyle got involved in hickory golf a few years ago. They hosted a Ryder Cup style event in Scotland that he was involved in that my brother played in over there a few years ago, so you even have some interest from tour pros in these type of events. But the level of skill with hickory golf is not much different than any other golf league. You have some good players, average players, and some players who are there to have fun and drink, and do it with style (clothing that is).

 

Sent from my coral using MyGolfSpy mobile app

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Swag---- Some of that bunch over on WRX are members of the SOHG and play those tournaments quite a lot. Tad Moore himself comes on over there and posts just like the rest of us. I read a lot on there that is how I know the little I know about hickory golf. I have also learned a lot on the club design and building from Mr Moore over the years from reading his posts and asking him questions. Some of the Hickory guys are crossovers too as in they play vintage golf with steel shafted blades and persimmons. My friend that is coming up from Charleston SC tomorrow is one of the guys that plays both. 

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I'm not sure that I'd mind playing hickory, even on inland parkland courses.

 

But I KNOW that I'd love to play them on a links course.

 

It would be like taking a trip through time,

plus I've got (or had) a very useful flat, shallow swing for hickory.

 

I don't think that the period clothes would even be essential,

 

but if wearing that stuff would allow me to play in steel spikes,

 

I'd have worn that stuff everywhere.

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