Hickory Golf: What You Need to Know

Hickory golf is an older or retro type of golf that is still played today using older equipment.  There are even hickory golf courses you can play on!

There are two main types of hickory golf – pre-1900 and pre-1935. Pre-1900 hickory golf involves using an older style gutta-percha golf ball that doesn’t travel as far as today’s ball, and generally clubs that were made before 1900.

The Pre-1935 golf version offers  a few less restrictions as modern balls are allowed to be used. However, clubs used must be made before 1935. In both cases, players can also use authorized reproductions.

Hickory clubs are an older style of golf club that have a metal face, but a shaft made of hickory wood. Hickory clubs in good condition can be just as costly as new clubs today, costing several hundred dollars per club. Companies sell new replica sets for thousands of dollars, attesting to the game’s popularity.

Unlike today’s clubs, which generally consist of a driver, irons, putter, and maybe hybrid or fairway clubs, hickory golf clubs have far different names.  Hickorygolf.com records more than 25 different types of hickory clubs that can be used predating 1935.

Here are some of the main ones:

Driver – The driver, like today’s clubs, is the biggest club in a hickory set. These are angled a bit differently than today’s drivers, though, offering a bit more trajectory.

Brassie – This was an all-purpose club of sorts. It could be used to drive off a tee or could be played as a fairway wood, hitting balls from the fairway.

Spoon – This club resembles a three or five wood and has a higher loft than the driver or brassie.

Cleek – There are two types of cleeks available – a wooden cleek or a standard cleek, which has an iron head. This club was found somewhat difficult to use and isn’t generally used nearly as much as some of the others.

Bulldog – The bulldog is similar to a fairway wood, good for a trouble shot when your ball lands off the fairway.

Low Numbered Irons – Irons one through four can also be part of a hickory set. Extreme low numbered clubs such as the 1- or 2-iron club didn’t offer as great a loft and while they can hit the ball farther, are harder to hit.

Mashie – This was one of the most used iron clubs in a hickory golf bag. This club can be used for long or short distances and there are also several different types of mashies including a spade mashie (larger oversized head), Benny (moderate sized head), a mongrel mashie (close to a mid-sized iron), a mashie iron, a driving mashie (used off the tee), or a mashie niblick (great for pitching).

Niblick – This is the club providing with the greatest deal of loft. Not giving a lot of distance, it can be compared to the pitching wedge or sand wedge.

Putter – Same purpose, though a slightly different style than today’s modern club.

Hickory golf is kind of like vintage baseball.  It's an opportunity to go back in time to see how the game was played decades ago in an effort to have fun and understand a little more about the history of sports.  You can find a lot of hickory golf clubs and equipment via this link to eBay.