Classic equipment: If anyone else has a barrel of persimmons, please stand up

We have started taking older blades and woods out once in a while. We don’t play from the back tees and just go out and have fun. I use a set of macgregor laminated woods my dad had in the barn, 1-sw MP14 Mizuno, and an old 8802 style Wilson putter. We have found it to be a blast. We don’t score well but we all find ourselves taking this stuff out more, and more often. It’s very gratifying when you finally hit that driver out of the screws, or flush the 1 iron. We don’t use older balls. I use proV1. It’s funny when using the older equipment on my simulator I don’t give up much distance on average. It’s just the bad shots are really bad. The front to back dispersion is very bad. Lots of stinging hands. I also have a set of Wilson tour blades from the 70s. For the guys that say a blade is a blade I would say to go get a set of blades from the 70s. They make modern blades seem game improvement.

Does anyone else play older classic equipment from time to time? I would like to try hickory golf someday but for now I’m having a blast with this older equipment.


I want to get a set of hickory’s


I actually wrote a story about this on golfwrx which you can find in my profile pretty easily.
I love the old sticks. At my home club which is about 5,000 yards/Par 65 there are basically 2 types of players: the persimmon/blade guys and the modern equipment guys.
Personally, I have a two Wood Brothers drivers (the best IMO) and a full set of Hogan 1953 Medallion woods (1-3-4) that I simply love. Also have a set of Wilson Staff blades from about 1989 that are really comparable to my AP2s from the 6-iron down.
Lots of people think they’re solid players and when they get the “real clubs” in their hands they find out with a quickness that it is an entirely different ball game. You can’t just lash at it.

WARNING: If you have really nice persimmons you may want to use softer ball like a Precept or Noodle so your face inserts don’t crack.

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My uncle uses the Duo balls from Wilson and has been urging me to do the same when I take the old woods out. I found an old bag that my grandpa had and there was about 15 balata balls in there. I want to give them a try see what I missed out on.

I’m very interested in doing this. All of the munis in my town are right around 5,800-6,200 yards. I think a set of persimmons and blades would make these courses pretty fun. I recently dug out an old Scotty American Classic III from the garage and I’m currently scouring eBay and 2nd swing for some blades to repurpose.

Does anyone have tips for buying persimmon woods off of eBay? I’ve looked into buying new from Louisville golf, but the deals on eBay are pretty tempting.

What other soft balls like the noodle would work well with this setup?

You’ve come to the right place, @3wiggle. Any of the golf balls that are marketed as “soft” (Bridgestone Soft e6, Callway soft, Srixon Soft) all impart less damage than the ProV1. I actually bought some Titleist Professional 90s on Ebay-still incredible. Don’t spend $100/dozen for balatas because they are completely ineffective after 30 years. Pointless.
I’ve developed what many would describe as an addiction to persimmons in the last 6 months and you can learn from my foibles. My advice to you: tread carefully. There’ a guy in North Carolina on eBay who has thousands of clubs. Some are great, but some have been re-shafted with modern length (45") and they just go everywhere. Tough to control.
Here are my Hogan 1953 Medallions that were just trashed when I bought them (paid $25.) I sent them to The Golf Club Hospital in Minneapolis and for $60/per club you can see what they look like now.


When it comes to drivers, in my opinion, there’s Wood Brothers and then there’s everyone else. I have two Wood Bros (plus a Hogan and a Cleveland.)
The dark one on the right I sent in for a refinish and new face plate because hitting a few too many Pro V1s dented the face. Wood Bros. drivers on eBay range anywhere from $1,000- $50. I got both of these for $100 from people who had them listed at $350 & $400 respectively. If you send the seller an email pointing out the obvious flaws on the club, they’ll start to realize what they think is “mint” is really just “used” to the discerning buyer.


Check out the thread I started when The Refuge came online called Balata Balls and Hickory Sticks. I have pictures of my gear in that thread.

We have been using 100+ year old clubs and balata balls at about 6300 yards. 5 club max.

Unfortunately, any modern ball is not going to be the same thing as playing a balata. We have found the balata to go about 40 yards shorter off the persimmons than modern balls like a Bridgestone e6.

Our group of scratch or better players generally shoot in the range of +10-+20. Game is so much harder!

It might be harder but when I take the older stuff out we use the white tees, and we have a different goal in mind. We are just out to have fun. On the courses we play a 200 yard shot off the tee at least gives you a 6 or 7 iron in from those more forward tee. On most par 5s 200 off the tee and 2 6 irons gets you pin high. My uncle is a better ball striker than me and he is a little more aggressive.

Anyone (in the U.S.) want some free persimmon? PM me & I’ll send you this Wilson 4 wood for free. First up wins. Head cover not included. Shipping is on you. Enjoy!
It has a new tour wrap and a S400 Dynamic Gold. I’ve hit this about 12 times. It’s as pure as the driven snow.

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@2trickpony is the winner.

I’ve been tinkering with setups from different eras. It’s a lot of fun and is a nice change of pace from time to time.

Titleist DCI Oversized + B 3-PW
Biggest Big Bertha w/ the Graffaloy Shaft
Bubble Burner 2 3 wood
Never Compromise Putter
Alien Wedge

Rob’t Jones Jr Registered Tour Models 3-9 (Looking for a P)
Ping Eye 1/3/5 Wood
Karsten III 4 Wood
Scotty Cameron Bullseye Putter

Most of these were found at thrift shops, hoping to run across some hickories or the like to do an earlier set…

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I went on ebay recently and picked up some Hogan Director cut blades, a 1,3,5 persimian Titleist woods, a macgregor sand wedge, and wilson putter. Also bought a dozen ballata balls all for under $350. Been going out and playing afternoon holes from the white tees having the time of my life. So much fun when you catch a 5 wood off the screws!

I saw that Linksoul just came out with some (expensive) persimmon woods. anyone know how playable they are?

They’re being made by the guys at Louisville golf (featured in TGJ). I think buying direct from Louisville might save you a few dollars.

i don’t get why you would want to play? Golf has evolved just like you don’t see college or high school baseball players playing wood bats

And yet:
you see people driving classic roadsters…
you see a bubbling market for handmade leather goods…
you see small batch bourbons and beers thriving…
(and FWIW some high school players do play with wood bats in summer/legion ball.)

Check out the Golfers Journal podcast with @djpie and Geoff Cunningham. I think you’ll enjoy it and maybe see equipment through a different lens.


Some questions from the cautiously curious…

  1. What are the downsides to playing with hickories? What do I need to know that you wish you’d known before you took the plunge?

  2. I’m a 16 handicap. Realistically, I have a hard enough time getting around the course with equipment that wasn’t designed prior to the Coolidge Administration. Is this a bad idea? I don’t have to go out and break 80 with hickories, but I don’t want to shoot 110 either.

  3. Wood putter or metal putter?

  4. Does swinging hickories throw off your tempo/putting with your gamer clubs? I.e., is this gonna make me a shittier golfer in general?

  5. Is it possible to get fit, or is that a dumb question? Alternatively, if you’ve been fit for modern equipment, then can you use those specs, or is that also a dumb question?

  6. I have stiff shafts in my irons (Dynamic Gold, if it matters…I’m told that’s a “softer stiff” among stiff shafts). Does that mean I need stiff hickory shafts?

  7. Short of going to Louisville Golf and asking to swing some of their clubs, are there any easy options for testing hickory clubs out to see whether this is even enjoyable?

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These are all fair questions.

From my prospective, if you are interested in shooting lower scores or caring how your equipment plays/feels, it is not worth it. However, there is something about playing 100+ year old equipment that will make you want to play them again and again. I will do my best to answer your questions. Keep in mind, my classic equipment is from, roughly, the 1920’s and is made up of a 2-iron (long-iron), 5-iron (mashie), a 50ish degree wedge (niblick), a persimmon driver, and a 4-wood (spoon). The shafts in my irons are not hickory, but a first generation steel shaft painted to look like wood.

  1. First thing I noticed was that if you play modern golf balls, the distance the ball goes is not as far off from the distance your shot would go with modern clubs. Really only drops off 10%-15% through the bag. Miss hits are extra bad, however.

  2. As I mentioned before, don’t go out there if you expect to shoot the the same scores you do with your modern clubs. For example, I played this weekend with a modern ball and modern clubs and shot a 73. Last weekend, I used my old clubs and a balata ball and shot just over 90 from the same tees. I had just as much fun both days. Keep in mind, I only have 3 irons.

  3. You will more than likely have the most luck finding a metal putter-head. Seems to be perfectly in line with the era. Putting is still stupid hard.

  4. From experience, playing these clubs has done the opposite for my game. My tempo is better now - much smoother transitions. You cannot fake it with these clubs. You have to hit it “on the screws” and if you are quick at all at the top, you are done for. Distance has never been a problem for me and playing these clubs has helped me slow things down and focus on good contact which has helped with knockdown shots, wind balls, and smoother transition at the top. Also helps your hand “feels” and knowing where the face of the club is.

  5. Remember, these are clubs with wooden sticks for shafts. I’m sure the expensive modern manufactures can hook you up with the appropriate shaft stiffness and length. The fun part about it is working with what you got just like the old days when players would build there own clubs. Personally don’t see much/any benefit to go through this process.

  6. If you pick them up, wiggle it around, and if it doesn’t feel like it is going to snap, you’ve got a winner.

  7. If you aren’t in it for the love of playing classic equipment, playing shorter courses/tees and getting true shot values out of it, the creativity of playing shots with clubs you never would have otherwise, and for a new challenge, you won’t enjoy it. Pounding a few at the range will not open your eyes. Hop on eBay, Craigslist, or go into a Goodwill/Salvation Army and find a few cool persimmons and the oldest, 3 or 4 of the bladiest irons you can find and go play 9 holes. If you can, find some pre 2003 golf balls for a true feel. Will cost you all of $10 and give you a good feel for what you are getting into.

Only caveat here is that blade irons from 1975ish to now have not changed very much. If you use a modern ball and hit it well with an iron from 1980’s, there really isn’t a difference from today’s blade irons.

Other advice i’d share is to play from as far up as you possibly can. Try and play sub 6000 yards if possible. Swing nice and slow and focus on contact. Ball won’t go far enough to find as much junk. Don’t get frustrated and enjoy the challenge of creating shots. Par’s feel like birdies, bogeys feel like pars. Keep in mind, the 1911 US Open champ shot 81-72-75-79 = 307 to win, cut was at +16 after 2 rounds. Effectively, you are playing the same game with this age of equipment, so your standard of a good round should alter accordingly.

Go get a cheap Sunday bag of classic clubs and share with your weekend group. When everyone is faced with the same challenge, it is so much fun as a group.


Basically did this by accident once. Ended up playing a round of golf before my Brother in laws wedding at a shorter (approx 6300 yards) tree lined club with a lot of elevation changes.

I ended up playing with my father in laws fathers clubs. A combination of Sam Snead irons and Tommy Bolt irons and can’t recall the woods or putter but I assume they were from the same era. I used whatever balls were in the bag as well.

I hit the woods great, low cuts (low for me, anyway) and had trouble with the irons, couldn’t get over having to hit 5 iron from 150 yards, haha. I recall having a blast and being the only true golfer in a group of 12 it was fun to “even the playing field” with some of the other guys. I didn’t keep score but little did I know one of the guys in my group did after I birdied the first (short par 5) and the 3rd (a long par 3 where I hit the coolest 5 wood of my life) and he had me at a 77 which is something I have always been proud of, just hope he counted right :slight_smile:

Would really enjoy doing this at my club as the course would play completely different, would be very fun to hold a member event with tons of skill prizes as scores would likely be off the charts.

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