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Style of Play for Vintage Clubs

vintage style play clubs

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#1 Dcohenour

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 01:13 PM

All,
Regarding the use of vintage clubs, wasn't the style of play different than it is now, since the advent of titanium / game improvement / graphite / modern balls?

I seem to recall that the game was played with lower trajectories, and there was in general a lot of run up shots. I was watching some older film last weekend and noticed how many approach shots during those US Opens were bouncing on the fairway running up to the hole.

So my question is, shouldn't our expectations regarding the use of vintage equipment be that our trajectories will be lower and that we will play the game closer to the ground? I mean, if I am expecting to get more carry and less roll, all things being equal, then I think my expectations are a bit out of whack with vintage and my course management needs to be adjusted to take that into consideration.

And if I am playing a modern course that isn't really designed to allow for run up shots, then I am going to have to be more creative using vintage. Does this sound right? or am I all wet?
Comments welcomed, as always.


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#2 Davewn

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 02:24 PM

View PostDcohenour, on 06 June 2018 - 01:13 PM, said:

All,
Regarding the use of vintage clubs, wasn't the style of play different than it is now, since the advent of titanium / game improvement / graphite / modern balls?

I seem to recall that the game was played with lower trajectories, and there was in general a lot of run up shots. I was watching some older film last weekend and noticed how many approach shots during those US Opens were bouncing on the fairway running up to the hole.

So my question is, shouldn't our expectations regarding the use of vintage equipment be that our trajectories will be lower and that we will play the game closer to the ground? I mean, if I am expecting to get more carry and less roll, all things being equal, then I think my expectations are a bit out of whack with vintage and my course management needs to be adjusted to take that into consideration.

And if I am playing a modern course that isn't really designed to allow for run up shots, then I am going to have to be more creative using vintage. Does this sound right? or am I all wet?
Comments welcomed, as always.

It's not just modern course design, I believe it's modern course conditioning as much as anything.  Realistically, it's very difficult to run shots up anymore due to (over) watered fairways and green complexes.  At least where I play, iron shots hit short will only take a small bounce forward if any at all.

45 years or so ago when I started playing, the munis I played only had watered fairways on the days it rained.  Having zero or negative bounce irons with flat, sharp leading edges was really the only way to nip the ball off a rock hard fairway lie back then.  Modern irons would bounce into the belly of the ball back then as surely as most 50's and 60's irons will dig beaver tails today with less than perfect contact.  Equipment characteristics for any given era are a reflection of course conditions from that era.

Edited by Davewn, 06 June 2018 - 02:27 PM.

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#3 scomac2002

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 02:28 PM

I have found my most enjoyable rounds with vintage equipment have been played on heritage courses that were originally designed for that style of play.  An afternoon walking nine solo with a Sunday bag, a half set of blades, a couple of woods and a putter can be bliss.  

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#4 BIG STU

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 02:39 PM

Correct on all fronts. There are courses not conducive to playing vintage equipment. I would rather run a cut 2 iron up the front on a difficult hole than be forced with the same carry with a Hybrid or 7 wood. Yep the modern game has changed.
Dcohenour You are not the least wet on that in fact you are 110% correct
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#5 twidener

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 03:17 PM

While your correct that the majority of golfers 40 and 50 years ago played a lower trajectory and the game was played more "on the ground" there were quite a few professionals that hit the ball with a higher trajectory. Nicklaus hit the ball on pretty much the same trajectory as players today who hit the ball high. Palmer played a mid-trajectory. Weiskopf hit it high. Snead and Hogan could hit it high or low. I was taught to hit it high, especially 2,3, and 4 irons. I wasn't a long hitter so I was hitting quite a few long irons into the longer par 4's. He told me that this would be the way that I could score and compete with players who hit it long. He taught me how to hit it high and low with every club.  When Nicklaus was a teenager Jack Grout told him he needed to hit the ball high because Mr. USGA would set the pins in the corners of the greens and the only way to get close was to hit it high and land the ball softly. I remember seeing Nicklaus in person a few times in the early '70's and he could hit a 2 iron and his driver so high and the ball would drop out of the sky, take a couple of soft bounces and stop. This was on U.S. Open greens that were firm and fast. So in answer to your question, if you play vintage equipment on modern day courses you will need to make some adjustments. But remember that the old irons also had more loft which will help. Experiment and have fun.


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#6 hnryclay

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 03:22 PM

Where I live most of the courses that I play are old, private clubs. Vintage equipment does not hurt your game at all, unless you are playing from the tips. That being said, I think the old balls had a lot to do with the trajectory as well. I can hit my Colorkrome MACs nearly as high per loft* as I can my Cobra f7s. Blades from the 80's on I can tell very little difference. That being said I have an upright swing that might not have been envouge back in the 50's.

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#7 wkuo3

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Posted 06 June 2018 - 08:49 PM

The changes I have noticed using the older equipment are :

- shorter distance, from higher loft in irons and shorter shaft in woods ( real woods ).
- trajectory is similar to modern golf clubs if I match the loft on the stick used.
- less forgiving, so I really need to pay attention with the small wood head and the butter knife of irons.
- believe it or not, even the putters need extra attention for a mis-hit will cost distance control.
- I'll be fine if I play the retro yardage with the vintage golf clubs.  6,100 yards to maybe 6,600,  instead of the 6,400- 6.900 modern tees.

I can't find the older golf balls , otherwise I'd be using them also.

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#8 Dr. Block

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 11:52 AM

View Postwkuo3, on 06 June 2018 - 08:49 PM, said:

The changes I have noticed using the older equipment are :

- shorter distance, from higher loft in irons and shorter shaft in woods ( real woods ).
- trajectory is similar to modern golf clubs if I match the loft on the stick used.
- less forgiving, so I really need to pay attention with the small wood head and the butter knife of irons.
- believe it or not, even the putters need extra attention for a mis-hit will cost distance control.
- I'll be fine if I play the retro yardage with the vintage golf clubs.  6,100 yards to maybe 6,600,  instead of the 6,400- 6.900 modern tees.

I can't find the older golf balls , otherwise I'd be using them also.

You can find Titleist Tour Balata's and Professionals on ebay.  They'd be the last link to the old ball.  Unfortunately they usually cost a small fortune and they've lost a significant amount of the compression in their rubber winding's over the many years.   Still, they complete the holy experience of the feel of a well struck persimmon, and they have that old-school bullet followed by lift-off flight.

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#9 wrmiller

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 01:08 PM

View PostDr. Block, on 07 June 2018 - 11:52 AM, said:

View Postwkuo3, on 06 June 2018 - 08:49 PM, said:

The changes I have noticed using the older equipment are :

- shorter distance, from higher loft in irons and shorter shaft in woods ( real woods ).
- trajectory is similar to modern golf clubs if I match the loft on the stick used.
- less forgiving, so I really need to pay attention with the small wood head and the butter knife of irons.
- believe it or not, even the putters need extra attention for a mis-hit will cost distance control.
- I'll be fine if I play the retro yardage with the vintage golf clubs.  6,100 yards to maybe 6,600,  instead of the 6,400- 6.900 modern tees.

I can't find the older golf balls , otherwise I'd be using them also.

You can find Titleist Tour Balata's and Professionals on ebay.  They'd be the last link to the old ball.  Unfortunately they usually cost a small fortune and they've lost a significant amount of the compression in their rubber winding's over the many years.   Still, they complete the holy experience of the feel of a well struck persimmon, and they have that old-school bullet followed by lift-off flight.

Your description of a "well struck persimmon" brought a smile to my face, and a flood of memories. Made my day, thanks. :)
I'm not suggesting we kill all the stupid people, I'm just suggesting we remove all the warning labels and let the situation resolve itself.

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#10 Dr. Block

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 01:33 PM

View Postwrmiller, on 07 June 2018 - 01:08 PM, said:

View PostDr. Block, on 07 June 2018 - 11:52 AM, said:

View Postwkuo3, on 06 June 2018 - 08:49 PM, said:

The changes I have noticed using the older equipment are :

- shorter distance, from higher loft in irons and shorter shaft in woods ( real woods ).
- trajectory is similar to modern golf clubs if I match the loft on the stick used.
- less forgiving, so I really need to pay attention with the small wood head and the butter knife of irons.
- believe it or not, even the putters need extra attention for a mis-hit will cost distance control.
- I'll be fine if I play the retro yardage with the vintage golf clubs.  6,100 yards to maybe 6,600,  instead of the 6,400- 6.900 modern tees.

I can't find the older golf balls , otherwise I'd be using them also.

You can find Titleist Tour Balata's and Professionals on ebay.  They'd be the last link to the old ball.  Unfortunately they usually cost a small fortune and they've lost a significant amount of the compression in their rubber winding's over the many years.   Still, they complete the holy experience of the feel of a well struck persimmon, and they have that old-school bullet followed by lift-off flight.

Your description of a "well struck persimmon" brought a smile to my face, and a flood of memories. Made my day, thanks. :)

Thank you, not a more genuine golfwrx compliment can one receive.  :-)


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#11 Chris122

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 12:27 AM

View Posttwidener, on 06 June 2018 - 03:17 PM, said:

While your correct that the majority of golfers 40 and 50 years ago played a lower trajectory and the game was played more "on the ground" there were quite a few professionals that hit the ball with a higher trajectory. Nicklaus hit the ball on pretty much the same trajectory as players today who hit the ball high. Palmer played a mid-trajectory. Weiskopf hit it high. Snead and Hogan could hit it high or low. I was taught to hit it high, especially 2,3, and 4 irons. I wasn't a long hitter so I was hitting quite a few long irons into the longer par 4's. He told me that this would be the way that I could score and compete with players who hit it long. He taught me how to hit it high and low with every club.  When Nicklaus was a teenager Jack Grout told him he needed to hit the ball high because Mr. USGA would set the pins in the corners of the greens and the only way to get close was to hit it high and land the ball softly. I remember seeing Nicklaus in person a few times in the early '70's and he could hit a 2 iron and his driver so high and the ball would drop out of the sky, take a couple of soft bounces and stop. This was on U.S. Open greens that were firm and fast. So in answer to your question, if you play vintage equipment on modern day courses you will need to make some adjustments. But remember that the old irons also had more loft which will help. Experiment and have fun.

Nicklaus' 1-iron on the 17th at Pebble Beach which hit the flagstick and finished inches away is one of the best examples of how high and long he could hit the ball,incredible golf shot viewable on YouTube.

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#12 Dcohenour

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 06:51 AM

View PostChris122, on 08 June 2018 - 12:27 AM, said:

Nicklaus' 1-iron on the 17th at Pebble Beach which hit the flagstick and finished inches away is one of the best examples of how high and long he could hit the ball,incredible golf shot viewable on YouTube.

Truly a great shot. The only problem with watching some of that old footage is, for me, when they zoom in on the golf ball I have a hard time figuring out how high it actually is. I just can't tell, but I'll take everyone's word for it.

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