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#1 21-05-2016 23:44:29

Registered: 19-10-2015
Posts: 37

Modern Golf Technology and Hickory Golf

My thoughts about modern technology and hickory golf.

I very much doubt that most of us would not notice any discernible difference between C8 and D3 (a 5 point difference on the modern swingweight scale).

As a general rule for hickory shafts the lighter the shaft the less dense it is the more “flex” the shaft has. The heavier the shaft the more dense it is the stiffer it will play. For example 2 identical length shafts one weighing 160gm the other 180gm, the 180gm shaft will most likely play stiffer than the 160gm shaft. This is where the problem with trying to swingweight your hickory set comes into its own.

Depending on what “flex” shaft you prefer to play with the very nature of finding and playing with wooden shafted clubs will make it difficult to assemble a set with matching swingweights, unless of course your prepared to re-shaft your entire set with new hickory shafts by calculating the weights and lengths of individual hickory shafts to match individual club heads.

As we all know in modern clubs the progressive increase in head weight as the shaft length decreases enables the swingweight to be uniformerly matched across most of the set.
Unfortunately the same cant be said for the authentic iron clubs we use and lengthening shafts or adding weight to try and match a swingweight can lead to other issues because of altered lie angles and increased torque of the shaft.

I was speaking to Alan Grieve the other day about his method of club selection and the tinkering/measurements he uses to fine tune his clubs and their performance.
Yeah right!
Alan is the ultimate feel player. Ask him about club lofts and swingweights and he doesnt know. He recently had the lie angles of a couple of his clubs altered and noticed that afterwards he was indeed hitting the club more directly on his target line. I asked him what he was doing before the lie angles were changed and he simply said “I knew what each club did and made allowances for it”.

Ok, so we are not all Alan Grieve’s but the point is he really does nothing different than what the rest of us are already doing. He finds a club, hits it and if he likes it he will stick it in his bag. Chances are that the clubs he likes are within a certain swingweight range and have similar flex/torque characteristics etc but the point is you dont need to know what those numbers are to play well and building a set around those numbers will certainly not be any guarantee of success.

Hickory, as a natural non-manmade material, has characteristics that simply can’t be measured. Trying to apply 21st century technology to an early 20th century pastime can sometimes create more problems than it solves. More importantly it is moving us away from the very reason that we all became intrigued with this game in the first place. We don’t play hickory golf to conquer the technical vagaries of the game as it was played 100 years ago, the evolution of golf beyond the hickory era has already taken care of that for us. We play hickory golf because we embrace the uncontrollable, unpredictable nature of the game and we stand in awe of the men and women who did so with distinction.
Lets try and not forget that.


#2 22-05-2016 18:52:48

Registered: 19-10-2015
Posts: 54

Re: Modern Golf Technology and Hickory Golf

I agree. Play them as you find them (although admitting I have occasionally made "adjustments" to suit my taste).

But, having said that, I wonder how many of the 1890's - 1930's players "fiddled" with their clubs - when you consider Mr Jones apparently looked over umpty shafts to find the right ones.

Did the clubmakers of the past "fiddle" clubs to suit buyers?  (Probably not the ones bought from department stores).  Were there agreed "standards" for shaft lengths, etc.  I note this standard for shafts wasn't until 1930  (See … _18-29.pdf

Aw.  This is all getting too technical.  I will just remain in awe of the original hickory players who played on crappy courses, with a handful of mismatched clubs, and a feather ball, and scored much better than I can with modern or period clubs.

Last edited by Pipdog (22-05-2016 18:55:27)

Have a few clubs, mostly junk, but all playable.


#3 22-05-2016 21:17:43

Registered: 19-10-2015
Posts: 37

Re: Modern Golf Technology and Hickory Golf

Hey Rob
We're hickory golfers, we ALL fiddle with our clubs and make adjustments here and there as we go. My point was not to discourage players from fiddling with their clubs, changing lofts, lie angles etc but rather to do so when needed rather than as a prerequisite to establishing a playable set of clubs. If your Mashie is C3 and your driving iron is D4 and you hit them well altering their swing weights to get them both around C9-D1 will probably change the characteristics that allowed you to hit them well in the first place.

Below is a description of his clubs by Perry Somers clubs (he goes around ok Im led to believe)
Here is the description of my hickory set, For some it will be surprising how few " famous " clubs I have. I have selected them on feel alone and if the club feels good to me and I can control the flight and distance to satisfaction, then it's in the bag, regardless who made it or what is stamped on it.

Driver: J.H.Taylor " CYNOSURE ". Length 43" Swing weight C4.

Baffy: No markings at all! Length 40.25" Swing weight C3.

Cleek: Tom Stewart ( Jack White Sunningdale) 39.5" C2.

2 Iron: George Nicoll ( Duncan McCulloch Royal Troon) 38.5" B6.

Mid Iron, Mashie, Mashie Niblick: all three are from a very large sports store in Glasgow in the early 1900's "Lumleys Ltd." No manufacturer markings otherwise to be seen.

Mid Iron: 38" D2. Mashie 37" D6. Mashie Niblick #1: 36" D8.

I carry two Mashie Niblicks the Lumleys club has slightly more loft and a little bounce and is fine out of the Bunkers. The other is a touch ( or should that be a Tad? ) stronger and works beautifully from the 100 yard range. By the way that was the club I hit into he first hole for my second shot each time in the play off.

Mashie Niblick #2: Jack Innes Prestwick 36" C3

Putter: "The BOGEE " model. Medium Lie. 33.9" 8oz. 12 dps.

Enough said really


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