Golf Academy of America students go retro with hickory-shafted golf clubs

Jul 20, 2011

For more than a century before the arrival of Big Bertha, golfers used hickory–shafted clubs with catchy nicknames like "niblick," "mashie" or "spoon."

Golf Academy of America (GAA) students recently took a ride on the way–back machine and landed at World Tour Golf in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They had played the course before, but this time they used antique golf clubs and were dressed in their best golf attire from the early 20th century.

"Giving the students the opportunity to play with hickory–shafted golf clubs is a very unique experience," said Jim Hart, Campus Director of GAA in Myrtle Beach. "Obviously, these clubs are from a bygone era, but it gives students an appreciation of how the game of golf has evolved and how technology has improved the equipment we use today."

Dr. Jay Harris of Pinehurst, N.C., a noted golf historian and preservationist, more affectionately known as "The Hickory Nut," provided sets of hickory–shafted golf clubs for the students to use during the on–course experience.

Hickory wood was the standard shaft material from the early 1800s until steel shafts were introduced in 1925. The hickory shafts require a slow, smooth swing to correctly time the hitting of the ball. Plus, the older clubs produce about a third less distance than a modern titanium driver using the same swing.

The use of hickory–shafted clubs is more than just a unique experience for GAA students enrolled in the History of Golf class in Myrtle Beach. The use of hickory–shafted clubs is gaining popularity in the United States. The Hickory Golf Association boasts three million members nationwide who are devoted to the use of hickory–shafted golf clubs.