Golf should be this FUN...Hickory Golf comes close!
The hickory wood shafts are amazingly durable and as is evidence in the above photo, able to bend and torque to produce energy . Swing your smoothest to hit the best!
Working the ball was very much a part of the game in the hickory era. Bobby Jones usually liked to hit the draw off the tee. This was a good way for him to get extra distance. Try to have fun and work the ball during your play with hickory golf clubs...
Bobby Jones' strategy around the greens was to get the ball onto the green and roll up to the hole. This required an imagination to choose the right club to hit the pitch. The Mashie Niblick might just be the best overall club for many pitches as well as approach shots...
One of the biggest mistakes made by first time hickory players is to expect the Niblick to perform like today's modern wedge. No bounce and thin blades make these much harder to control.
Bobby Jones was unbelievable from the bunkers, but you might do best to avoid those situations!
Bobby Jones Putting Grip
Playing With Hickory Clubs
Bobby Jones was the Master
Bobby Jones had the perfect blend of rythm and balance that enabled him to be the greatest hickory golfer of all time. That swing enabled him to create a driver swing speed of about 113mph and to hit average drives of about 250-260 yards. He was one of the longest hitters, but his overall game was tremendous with a fantastic short game. We all know that the short game is where the scoring is made, so don't forget that when you are playing hickory! You've still got a good chance even if hitting the ball is a little harder.
Waggle and Feel
The first thing to do is to grip the club as if to hit it. Feel the weight. Hickory clubs are often heavier the today’s modern clubs, but if you hold the club lightly and waggle the head you should gain a “feel” for the club. As you begin a practice swing, keep a light grip and continue to feel the weight of the club head as it makes it’s way through the swing.
Now inspect the wood headed club you are about to play. The wooden heads are small by comparison to today’s clubs, with an old look and feel. The heads are stamped with the name of the maker or the professional’s name and the golf course he was associated with just as the irons were. Again, most of the clubs we find are “pro line” clubs, built for the professional who sometimes fit them for the adjusted the shaft flex and length appropriate to them. You will also sometimes see names stamped on the shaft, just below the grip. These are either the professional’s name or the customer’s name for whom the club was made.The wooden heads are made from persimmon, the shafts are hickory. The grips are real leather strips, cut and wrapped around the handle end of the club. The grips are held on with two sided friction tape, tacks and waxed linen thread is used to transition to the wood, just as the irons.
Hitting the Woods
Let’s start with the tee shot. Tee the ball lower than with your modern driver. The woods in Play Hickory play sets are all lofted as fairway woods between 12-20 degrees. The wooden heads naturally hit the ball lower than today’s clubs and should be thought of as a fairway wood, not a driver. So, tee them low and imagine hitting a 3 or 5 wood of modern equivelent.Today’s clubs have strong torque characteristics. The hickory will torque, or twist much more than a modern club. Therefore, keeping your swing as smooth as possible will help hit more accurately (not that it won’t help with modern clubs too!). But today’s player typically swings a stronger shaft than that of these hickory clubs. But don’t get the idea these are toys! Quite to the contrary, there will be some great shots hit with these clubs.You can hit the woods from a good lie in the fairway or short rough, but I would resort to a mashie or less to extricate from the long rough.
The second thing you should do to enjoy playing with hickory golf is to inspect the clubs you are about to play. First you’ll notice that the iron heads are forged steel, with an old look and feel. The heads are stamped with the name of the maker or the professional’s name and the golf course he was associated with. Many of the clubs we find are “pro line” clubs, put together for the player by the professional who fit them for the shaft flex and length appropriate to them. The wooden shafts are hickory, being the premier wood choice of club makers of the early 1900’s. The grips are real leather strips, cut and wrapped around the handle end of the club. The grips are held on with two sided friction tape, tacks and waxed linen thread is used to transition to the wood.
Hitting the Mid-Iron
This is the least lofted iron in the bag, usually around 25 degrees. Kind of like a 2 or 3 iron, so it can be the hardest club to hit for some players. Others find that it is a great club that hits well and goes straighter than a wood off the tee. All in all, you’ll have to try it to see how you do...
Hitting the Mashie
The workhorse of the clubs. These are lofted as is today’s 6-7 iron. A good choice for a smooth full swing of up to 150 yards for the common player. These clubs are very good for the “chip and run” shot around the green. Try this club with a putter like stroke and see what kind of results you get.This is a great club to choose to just move the ball forward in the fairway or from a good lie in the rough. You can usually count on it to fly well and run out down the fairway. If you are having trouble hitting any of the other clubs hit the mashie.
Hitting the Mashie Niblick
Usually a good club to choose to hit an approach to the open green. Lofted at about 45 degrees (8 iron equivalent), it is a good club to choose from 100-125 yards. You can also learn to hit easily swung approaches to land in front of the pin and roll up close. As with all of the irons, today’s clubs and golf balls will give you more spin and stop faster on the greens. All hickory clubs should be anticipated to end up a bit further than where it hits on the green. One needs to assess the condition of the greens, of course.
Hitting the Niblick
The niblick is the shortest hitting club, like a wedge, with a hitting range of up to 100 yards for the strong players. You should use this club for pitching lofted shots around the green, for approaches where you need carry, and to the best of your abilities out of a bunker! These clubs are usually large headed, and are a little tricky off a thin lie. I like to reserve there use to necessity or a nice lie. This is the easiest club to “chunk” because of the thin leading edge and the loft and look of a shovel in many cases (Play Hickory niblicks are the best selected, most playable club heads sorted from hundreds. The often found clubs with sharp “digging” leading edges were avoided and left for the wall displays).
The putters in the Play Hickory playsets are mostly of the blade style head. These clubs are usually made of forged steel and have a great feel when struck in the sweet spot. Sometimes a little light weight, but if you hold them lightly in your hands they will feel pretty good. Again, we have picked the best out of hundreds of choices and they are all unique. The lofts have been adjusted to the speed of most modern greens (in the old days greens were often slower speed or had longer grass so the putters had up to 10 degrees of loft).
Here is a video talk and demonstration given before the Michael Allen Celebrity Pro-Am