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Morri: Old School Cool Is Timeless Fun

Rafa Cabrera Bello was one of the pros to take on the hickory challenge (Photo: Youtube/European Tour)
At the Scottish Open a fortnight ago the European Tour’s social media team (who do some outstanding work, by the way) produced a three-and-a-half-minute video that went viral.

The piece had several of the game’s top players swap their space age clubs and balls for something a little more vintage at Gullane’s par-3 12th: hickory clubs and a replica gutta percha ball.

The European Tour got what they wanted from their effort with lots of hits on social media channels and the story being picked up by most major golf websites.

But something funny happened in the days that followed. Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, who hit a gem of a shot with the vintage equipment, was so enamoured with the look and feel he later went and purchased a set of his own hickory clubs.

“I’d never hit hickory clubs before or an old golf ball like that,” he told Golfweek.com’s Geoff Shackelford.

“I finally found a spot that actually had them, so I got a set and I’m excited to take them home.”

It’s an experiment that many of us could actually benefit from in an age where almost all golfers focus far too intensely on score at the expense of having fun.

Whether it be old hickory clubs or a more modern set of persimmon woods and blade irons, there is something undeniably fun about mixing up the golf experience.

For those who can’t get over the concept of score being the only point of playing golf, you might actually be surprised how playable the old gear is. And I am living proof.

I’m an ordinary golfer at best (GA of 11.4) but for the past five weeks I’ve instituted a new, personal competition of my own called ‘Retro Wednesdays’.

In the mid-week comp at my home club I use a Joe Powell persimmon driver (given to me by Mike Clayton) and a set of late 1980’s/early 1990’s Maxfli DP 30 blades (2 iron to pitching wedge, bought off a golf forum for $80 five years ago).

A Ram 54-degree sand wedge is the highest lofted club in the bag and after switching between a Wilson 8802 and an early model PING Anser I have decided to just stick with my regular putter (a no-name, Anser style contraption that I bought from a second-hand rack for $30 about 15 years ago).

These bad boys are a lot easier - and more fun - to play with than most people think

Score wise I’ve had 24, 34, 38, 27 and 34 points, a run not dissimilar to any five week stretch with my ‘normal’ clubs.

But on the fun scale I’ve scored a whole lot higher, the satisfaction of hitting decent shots with the old gear far superior to comparable efforts with more modern equipment.

(Honestly, the 2-iron looks like a teaspoon from above and just getting it airborne feels like an accomplishment. When it goes somewhere near where you’re aiming it’s about as good as golf gets.)

It’s an experiment I would recommend to anyone though I know full well my advice will fall predominantly on deaf ears.

Not a single person at my home club has shown any interest in even trying one of my old clubs and, in fact, tend to look somewhat sceptical about the state of my mental health when I pull the head cover off the Joe Powell. 

But to me it is they who are missing out. Not so much because they’re not prepared to try it but because their reluctance suggests being stuck in a world where score is the only point of playing golf.

And at this level of the game, that is surely a road to misery.

SIGNATURE HOLES - 18TH AT MORUYA GC, NSW:

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