I was invited to play a round of golf by Bill Vossen a couple of weeks ago. This invite was nothing out of the ordinary except our round was to be played with a set of hickory shaft clubs! The Golf Historical Society of Canada was hosting a few members at Osprey Links Golf Course to try playing a round of golf using equipment technology from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I have to say it was a thrill and I found that the experience invigorated my golf game.
When I first arrived at Osprey Links, I was really uncertain about what to expect. I have only hit a hickory shaft club a couple of times over the years and it did not leave a great impression. Well, that all changed, let me tell you. My first meeting with the nicker-dressed historical society members was very pleasant. This group of golf enthusiasts were up beat and talked golf history like Rhodes scholars. From the moment we engaged, I was impressed by how they easily made golf history entertaining and interesting.
My playing partner from the historical society was Lorne Emery. Lorne is a Director and Secretary for the society. He was an engaging speaker and proved to be a fountain of knowledge. He explained about the clubs, the names, manufacturers and, more importantly, how to hit hickory clubs. I was enthralled by how the technology of early 20th century established the foundation for today’s equipment.
As I tried all the clubs in my bag, two other brassies, and one spoon (sand wedge), it became very apparent that hitting the sweet spot was critical to a good shot. Over the course of the day, I hit some awesome shots and well some unexpected shots. I followed Lorne’s advice to club up by two from my normal club selection. This worked perfectly.
My best hole was the 14th. It is shortish dogleg right and hitting to the top of the hill on my drive was critical.
As it turns out, I used the McGregor driver (below) from my bag and hit a natural cut to the top of the hill about 140 yards from the green.
From 140 yards, I normally would hit a 9 or 8 iron. So, using Lorne’s advice I chose a 6 iron. I stripped it perfectly and landed pin high 12 feet to the left. I knew it was pure by the way the club felt and that almost whispering sound on contact. I think it was one of my best shots of the day. I confidently stood over my putt and sank my first birdie of the day (more about putting in a bit).
I tried another driver (below) and it was very good, but it was not the best club for me off the tee.
The best club off the tee for me was the oldest brassie in my bag. Unfortunately I did not take a picture, but I could easily hit the club 220 yards. I could feel the shafts flex when hitting a solid shot. However, if I over swung the club, all I can say is quack quack.
With all the hickory clubs, swing tempo was critical to success. I found that if I swung the clubs as if it had senior shaft, all was good. If I tried to muscle any shot, then nothing positive would occur. I tried all the clubs by hitting them in different situations. I tried a 2 iron off the tee a couple of times; hit a 3 iron as a stinger; hit several 5 and 6 irons; and so on. I have to tell you that playing the hickory clubs was great fun and I learned a fair bit about my own game in just one round.
The best club in the bag was the putter. I was draining putts from all over as if I was Steve Stricker. This club looked like a hammer, but rolled the ball as true as could be. It was weighted about the same as my normal putter so that really help me maintain my speed control. I sank 6 one putts and burned the edges of the cup many other times. Lorne suggested I would love this putter and he was completely right.
Playing with hickory shafted golf clubs was an amazing experience. I never thought it would be so enlightening and enjoyable. Of course, my playing partners of Lorne and Mike helped (golf is a social contact sport), but hitting these old clubs was fantastic. I realized several things about my own game and hope to implement those the next time I hit the links. But for now, I am going to mull over my experience and see if there are more areas where playing hickory shafted clubs can help my game.
Just for interest sake, here is a copy of the scorecard. I shot low round in the event. We played from the golds.
I want to thank Bill and Lorne for inviting/hosting me to play in the Golf Historical Society of Canada event at Osprey Links Golf Course. I also want to thank Jeff Rogerson, GM/Director Osprey Links, for hosting this event and providing some libations after the round. I am grateful that this positive experience opened my eyes to another facet of golf I did not realize was even out there. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go join the Golf Historical Society of Canada.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!
13 thoughts on “Playing Golf With Hickory Shafts – What A Thrill!”
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I really enjoyed our time out on the course, you did those Kroyden irons proud. I know that Bill Vossen would love to take others out to try hickory golf and I am looking forward to a rematch.
A rematch for sure. You can give me strokes and lend me the “other” sticks you have in the garage. 😉 Thanks again for the opportunity to play hickory golf!
I’m glad you took the opportunity JIM and its nice to hear you have joined the GHSC.
BIG things to come this year with our membership drive. We are hoping to get some members from some top courses so that we can play more events on some of the top 100 courses in Canada.
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Thanks for opportunity. Another avenue to enjoy my passion. Have a great day.
Jim, how cool is that! Interested to know what ball you played? Did the Society folks recommend how the modern day balls would react?
What an awesome opportunity for you!
I used a Wilson 50 for the first 9 (unsure how I would hit the ball) and then switched to a Pro V1 for the second. The Pro V1 was more comfortable to hit, but the distance results was about the same, as well as the action of the ball on the green. Putting felt better on the back 9, but results were about the same for the entire round. If you ever get a chance to try a round with hickory clubs, I highly recommend it.
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Hi. This is Bill Vossen. I invited Jim for the round. Most hickory players prefer the softer balls for feel and ball shaping and control around the greens. I myself prefer the PRO V 1 for distance and i find i hit it straighter. Control around the green is fine with the PRO V1 as well.
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Bill thanks for the info. I find this discusion fascinating. Are there different hickory shaft flexes, or all the same?
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Brian, great question! Bill?
Brian Penn. Yes the clubs come with different shaft flex. We have a few people within the society that can measure the flex and can change shafts to suit your requirements. Louisville golf and a few others make replacement hickory shafts in different flexes as well.
What a special experience. I’m envious.
It was fantastic, Kevin. If you ever get the chance, I recommend you give it a try.