'Mongrel mashie' still top dog for hickory holdouts

Tue May 19, 2015 6:16am EDT
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By Paul Ingrassia

EPSOM, England (Reuters) - Before titanium, before graphite, before composites and before steel, golf clubs had shafts of wood, ideally hickory. That era ended 80 years ago for most golfers.

But it lives on today among a coterie of enthusiasts who revel in their anachronism, spurning modern clubs that promise maximum "moment of inertia," minimum "cross-sectional deformation," and other attributes from that twilight zone between technology and marketing.

"Some people think steel shafts will catch on, but I don't want to rush into it," says Philip Truett, president of the British Golf Collectors Society. Many golfers felt likewise a century ago, when steel shafts first appeared, painted brown to look like wood.

But by the mid-1930s, steel had vanquished wood, except among hardcore holdouts.

Truett only plays with hickory-shaft clubs. That is extreme, even among hickory golfers.

Most have modern clubs with steel or graphite shafts for regular rounds. They reserve their wooden shafts for special events.

Among them: the annual Scottish Hickory Championship, the Transylvanian Hickory Open in Romania, the Open de France Hickory and a biennial America v Europe event known, reverently, as the Hickory Grail.

The next one is in October at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey, which has hosted several professional major tournaments (played with modern clubs).   Continued...

Competitors taking part in the World Hickory Golf Championships tee off during the first round at Monifeith Links golf course in Monifeith, east Scotland October 8, 2012. REUTERS/David Moir