I stumbled on this article that I wrote 6 years ago. It amazed me how long it’s been and how long now I have had these inner feelings that playing the right ball completes the experience. Auld Golf today just has to include the ball…
written in 2009
“It is going on two years now, that I made my first experiment to create a period look golf ball for the players of hickory golf. It ended up being a slab of melted material half burned, looking much like a fake fried egg from a novelty shop. But I didn’t give up. I was determined to contribute to the game I loved and the players that I felt might cherish a ball that added realism to their coveted, almost private circle sport of hickory golf.
With 33 years of manufacturing experience at Hewlett Packard, many years of machining parts, repairing machines, designing assembly tools, and having many wonderfully creative people around, I knew that this was something not every hickory golfer would be thinking that they could do. In the year 2000, I discovered the world of hickory through the internet and looked in awe at the lucky people that had discovered and were playing with the old clubs that I had only a niblick that I had restored and hit a few times. It was like every player I saw in the images and read a few lines about was out of a dream world of a fictional book that I hadn’t finished reading yet. The excitement of discovery, the amazing experience of hitting the first shot, the realization that this new revelation was just the thing for my tasered feelings of golf in the modern day, these old wooden shafted clubs were a-m-a-z-i-n-g !
In 2002 I went to my first hickory event, the Open at Kingsley. Again, I felt alone, as if I were somewhere that I wasn’t sure I was supposed to be. Who were all of the men dressed sharp in knickers and ties? And bags of clubs that clattered in small bags. They stood in small groups talking and sharing their opinions and looking at each others clubs as others intently focused on the task at hand, hitting warm up putts with stern looks on their faces.
Why were all these players here? What possessed them to go to these lengths to compete with hickory golf clubs? And how cool was this to be a part of !…
A few more years went by and I learned and realized a lot of things about these players and golf. For me, it was final. I hadn’t played with modern clubs for five, six, seven years now! For others it was a wonderful break from country club action and the time to see the wonderful friends they had established in the world of hickory. Still, there was competition available for everyone who wanted it. And there was Randy Jensen whom everyone wanted to beat. It was at this time it dawned on me that I was a true blue hickory golfer. I had gathered the best clubs I could find and worked hard to be prepared, but pretty much was so excited to be participating in such a unique sport that I realized how lucky I was to have discovered it. But here we were, dressed the part, playing the clubs, reveling in the history and playing with ProV1’s, modern golf’s answer to performance and distance. Where was the correlation? What were we doing? Shouldn’t we have balls that looked right, felt right and added to the whole experience?
I was into hickory for good reason. I was a lifelong golfer having started at 8 years old. I grew up with a smooth swing that was envied by my buddies. Once in college, I was surrounded by bigger, stronger players and I started trying to hit it harder and farther just to keep up. When you play every day this isn’t as big of a problem as it could be for someone with lesser skills or experience. On came country club golf, again many games of golf and working on the wrong things that were influenced by modern golf marketing. I would trade in clubs, build clubs, give away clubs, lengthen clubs, try different balls and basically it didn’t matter. These are all the wrong things to do unless you are a pro on the tour and have the skills where a little thing might make a difference that week. I had lost my childhood swing and love of the game…
Even after discovering hickory it has taken a while to reverse engineer my game. I was still a hard swinger anxious to see how far I could hit the drive with wooden shafted clubs, WOODEN SHAFTED CLUBS! Did you see how far I hit that ball with a wooden shafted club! Did ya? Still, I was pretty much the same player I had been in recent years. Hit it far, play well for 14 holes, blow up with a couple double bogies and an 8 to shoot 85 …………..
Look, we’re not all meant to be the best, the longest, or the most respected. But I can tell you with clarity that now I know what it means to be a hickory golfer. It’s re-discovering my youthful swing where swinging as natural as possible and enjoying trying to hit playful shots with shape and hope is way more rewarding than hitting it hard. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love watching a well struck ball rolling down the fairway for a nice drive. Matter of fact there is still room for working on the low draw to get a few more yards. But this has to do with the swing and not the ball.
What I’m saying here today is that when we have the option to play with a modern material old look ball that is tested to be 97% as good as the best ball on the market at swing speeds in the common realm of hickory golfers, why would you want to play anything else? Why do we common, amateur players try to make more of what the golf ball is when I guarantee that there are more faults in our swings and games than there are in the ball? Why are we playing hickory golf in the first place? Why when we read that the best players of the game could hit it “so far” do we think that we stack up to the best players of their day? What delight do we get from introducing the hickory experience to new players and then showing them we play with modern balls?
Believe it or not, by the end of 2009 I will have provided the opportunity to experience hickory golf to 3000 players through hickory events and will have manufactured and moved 48,000 reproduction golf balls into the golf world. I find it strange indeed that the body of players that I set out to impress is the one group that still doesn’t get that:
They still insist that if they hit their one best shot during a round of golf farther that it makes their day better.
They still don’t realize the best players will still win tournaments and they could win them with practically any equipment.
That they are the luckiest people on earth to have discovered hickory golf and they don’t know what completes the experience.”
– Auld Mac