with Chris Mcintyre
My First Gutty Golf Ball
-----Within the year I was on my way to being committed (maybe ought-to-be-committed) of indulging in Hickory Golf club collecting and playing. It's here where I say "Anyone reading this and having a similar situation with modern golf might want to try the Hickory Game."
-----Being handy with tools, I had no problem learning to work on clubs. I read and dreamed about it, getting most of my initial information from Ralph Livingston's site www.hickorygolf.com. Many people were introduced to hickory golf through Ralph's site during the last 15 years.
-----My first hickory tournament was the 2002 Hickory Open at Kingsley Club in Michigan. It was a surreal experience, being new to the game, the group, travelling to the event alone...in the middle of nowhere of a gravel road - Awesome! I looked around and there were the guys that I'd caught a glimpse of in the few on-line images I'd seen while investigating this little world. I was not in Country Club Kansas any more. I played the best I could, but a few too many big numbers put me in the middle of the pack. But going to the event was the best place to meet like-minded players.
-----Finding antique hickory clubs was actually easy once I got involved in the GCS (Golf Collectors Society). Going to trades shows and hickory hacker tournaments was an amazing way to see, feel and buy some of my first clubs. Buying on E-Bay proved to be sketchy at best because pictures just don't do justice to choosing clubs for play. Getting involved in the GCS was the best way to meet great people too! I even served as Western Region 9 Director for a few years...
My First Hickory Clubs
-----As time continued, I worked hard to make Play Hickory (hickory rentals) and McIntyre Golf (vintage golf balls) a success. Dave Brown now runs McIntyre Golf and is doing a fantastic job of getting involved with the players. Actually, my golfing play time has slowed and have only dotted the map in recent years in attending tournaments. My passion is still high, and I am focused on more the details of the club design, swing style, and shot making of the early golfers. My baseball grip (two hand non-overlapping) and wristy putting style are both techniques that I have studied in the early era books I have read (see the book list on this site) and I play often with pre-1900 or turn of the century clubs.
-----Also in 2004 I started Play Hickory, Inc. One of the GCS'ers, Jim Haight, asked me if I could provide enough sets for a Centennial golf event at San Gabriel Country Club. I said OK, and that's when I first went to real work with Sherwood. I think Jim is proud of me and I'm sure proud of himself for getting me going, Thanks Jim! At the completion of 2013, Play Hickory, Inc. will have supplied equipment for over 170 hickory golf events, and going strong!
-----In all my efforts I am continuing to try to be authentic and realistic. Over the years I have worn a number of period clothing outfits to tournaments, events etc...2014 brings on the latest - vintage linen knickers, 1920's style sweater and my daughter joining in on the fun!
-----In 2006, I found out that there was another aspect of hickory golf...the National Hickory Championship! Here we played clubs that had to be pre-1900 in make and use a special gutta percha (rubber) ball. I fell in love with the idea it represented and grew a beard for 6 months, bought a 3 piece wool suit and set out to conquer. It turned out that was the year they held the event in Pinehurst, and we played course #1 (1895 ) and I shot the low round of the tournament on Sunday (77)...came in fourth overall. I was sure to be present the next year when it was back at Oakhurst. I was the first player to arrive for the week of extreme pre-1900 golf, and I was the last to leave. I stood and watched as the course emptied and savored the quietness as the last day ended. I went on to create a playable gutta percha ball that has pre-1900 purists able to hit the closest thing to Auld as possible. I think maybe you can see the trend here - I'm a total addict to this way of enjoying golf, Auld Golf that is!
The auld golfer
My First Mesh Golf Ball
-----Soon, the SoHG (Society of Hickory Golfers) was formed. This group was organized and put forth the mission to set hickory golf standards. This organization has proven well in the light of growing the sport and having equally understood guidelines from one event to another, and there are now plenty to choose from! The biggest change that the SoHG made was introducing reproduction golf clubs into play. This allowed a new, inquisitive player to immediately purchase a full set of clubs...players can now just jump into events and get into the fun, and enjoy the social aspect of the hickory game. But as you'll see, I'm much more into owning and playing with authentic, antique clubs...there is just something special about it.
-----I was the luckiest guy on earth when I met John Sherwood. John was the world's hardest working supplier of authentic British hickory golf clubs. Once John new I was going to buy lots of clubs, he would sort and send me boxes of clubs. He would let me sort through them and pick the ones I wanted. It was like Christmas every time a box arrived, and I loved the musty smell of the antiques when I cracked open a box! I would lay the clubs out on the ground and inspect every one...look at the head condition, look at the shaft, waggle and feel the balance. I could swing-weight and measure the clubs and it was a rush each time I received a package. John was a fast worker, and sometimes there would be a real gem-of-a-club found in the batches. I think it's a bit harder today to have opportunities like that ...but there are definitely plenty of authentic clubs to be found, restored, and played. I can honestly say that many of the clubs in my Play Hickory rental sets are better than a lot of the clubs I see in the bags of hickory golfers that play the game. It's just a great pleasure to be able to provide this equipment to my customers and give them a chance to experience hickory golf on their home course.
-----In 2004 I was playing a lot of hickory golf. In fact, I realized I hadn't even played modern golf for years! The Bobby Jones style golf was always challenging, fun, and I continued looking for the best authentic clubs I could find. This was the year I decided to go to Scotland! I talked Randy Jensen into travelling with me and we attended the BGCS (British Golf Collector Society) yearly Scottish Hickory Championship. While we were there we played St Andrews of course, and a number of other courses that the home group had arranged. The host group was a wonderful gathering of personalities and I made some new friends. Somehow I managed to place 3rd in the net division of the championship! I'm not always good at playing up to my potential at these events, but Randy gave me a good chewin' out about it the last night and I played very well the next day. It was on the plane ride home that I leaned over to Randy and told him "you know, we dress up in vintage clothes - we play antique golf clubs - why are we playing with Pro-V1 golf balls?" (some players still just don't get this one). "I'm going to make a vintage golf ball for us to use." It took a few more years, but that's just what I did.
-----The Discovery continues...and I hope that you enjoy your experiences along the road of Auld Golf.