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Best irons 1945-60?


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#1 James the Hogan Fan

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 06:24 AM

What were the best irons from that era? Ironfinder doesn’t really go back far enough. Specifically I am interested in what I imagine to be the ”Big 3” of the era: Spalding, MacGregor, and Wilson. Hogan had Precision’s in ’54(?) and that’s about all I know... Also Spalding Top-Flites from 1950- onward.

What manufacturers did I miss? (Haig Ultra?)

I don’t own any irons that predate 1982; I want to start the vintage collection from the above era; curious to know what’s out there.

Golfing in Finland
Driver: Titleist 908 D2 (9.5)
3 wood: Cleveland hi-Bore (15)
2hi: Callaway BB Diablo (18)
Irons 3-E Hogan Apex Edge Pro/Apex 4 +5/8”
Wedges: Titleist 5612 and Iron Nelson prototype 59°
Putter: Macgregor Autograph Jackie Pung

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#2 Fellaheen51

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 07:24 AM

As players, can't be of much help.  I do not find any irons from this period to be particularly suitable for my current game.  Mostly do to shafts being to heavy and stiff for my "old man's" game.  They're only for an occasional whack of a ball into the woodlot behind the house.  For curiosity purposes only.  WTS, partial to the aesthetics of the early Macs.  Without looking up specific dates:

Early 50's MacGregor Tourney "Winged MT".  Any of the MT Colokrom's.  Although it's difficult to find one's with the copper faces in decent shape.  Once had a set of '57 M75's, which I think was the last year for the Colokroms.   The FC4000 "Flame Ceramic" models that replaced them, with the black faces.  Uniquely cool looking.  And those FC faces held up better than the copper.  Had a set of MT FC4000 MT2's in great shape for their age a couple of years back.  But they may have been early 60's IIRC.  Couldn't hit them worth a lick.  Damn near broke a wrist once, trying to hit the 7 iron that simply stopped moving when contacting the turf.  Never tried a second time.  

Not sure on the age exactly, but Spalding RTJ, Jr. Kro-Flite's with pyratone shafts would be an interesting acquisition.  They may have been pre-war, not sure.  Definitely wall hangers though.  

The late 50's Wilson Dyna-Powered Staffs have a loyal following around here.  Think it's the 58's (?) that is most often mentioned.  But do not know enough about them to make any further comment.  Have a set of '49 Wilson Top-Notch irons that look "interesting".  Acquired as part of a larger acquisition.  Think there was a "Goose-Neck" model that was more sought after.  

My .02 based on what little I know about old irons.

Edited by Fellaheen51, 14 January 2019 - 07:30 AM.

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#3 rex235

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 09:21 AM

James-

Read Johnny Millers  article "10 Ways to Stick your Irons", and you will get his take on what he thinks is important.  We'll start with Miller's iron set at the time

1949 MacGregor Tommy Armour Tourney  915 Stainless irons.

1953 MacGregor Ben Hogan Personal Model irons   This was the last MacGregor iron set for Ben Hogan, he won the Triple Crown 3 majors with them in 1953.  (Hogan's set went for over $40K at auction).

1955 Ben Hogan Precision Irons, the ones Jack Fleck used to beat Ben Hogan at Olympic   (let's include the 1955 John Reuter Jr Pat Pend Bullseye putter)

1955  MacGregor Winged MT Tourney Colokrom irons   So popular MacGregor came out with a remake (RH Only) a generation later.

1950s Spalding Top Flite Stainless irons   (they had a cult following in some places 20 years later)  

1958 Wilson Staff Dyna Powered Irons The "Fluid Feel" were known for more than the Sand Wedge, but there's a photo of Arnold Palmer working on his '58 model...

1958 Wilson Walter Hagen Ultra Powered Irons - pretty much twins to the Wilsons, but even rarer.
Walter Hagen sold the company that bore his name to Wilson in the 1940s-

and.... those late 1950s MacGregor Flame Ceramic 4000 irons. Charley Penna (Toney's nephew) has provided the intel on how these irons came about.

These are just a few- am sure there are  quite a few others.  (1950s PowerBilt Stainless?)

Good Luck.

Edited by rex235, 14 January 2019 - 09:25 AM.


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#4 SteveNZ

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 02:45 PM

Quote

1949 MacGregor Tommy Armour Tourney  915 Stainless irons.

And, I suppose, the 985 Silver Scot Tourney model that spawned them. Generally considered to be the granddaddy of all iron designs.

Quote

and.... those late 1950s MacGregor Flame Ceramic 4000 irons. Charley Penna (Toney's nephew) has provided the intel on how these irons came about.

Specifically the Tommy Armour SS1s. Nicklaus used them from when he turned pro until he switched to VIPs. That’s good enough for me.

Rex - you pretty much nailed it wi this list. Hope you don’t mind me butting in :)

Edited by SteveNZ, 14 January 2019 - 02:46 PM.


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#5 Hillsider

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 05:40 PM

For me it would be the Dyna-Powers. My dad had a set of 1960s that he played for the better part of 25 years (that was when you played a set until they wore completely out). I still have them and they are as playable today as back then if you pay attention to the fundamentals.


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#6 stixman

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 08:43 AM

View PostSteveNZ, on 14 January 2019 - 02:45 PM, said:

Quote

1949 MacGregor Tommy Armour Tourney  915 Stainless irons.

And, I suppose, the 985 Silver Scot Tourney model that spawned them. Generally considered to be the granddaddy of all iron designs.

Quote

and.... those late 1950s MacGregor Flame Ceramic 4000 irons. Charley Penna (Toney's nephew) has provided the intel on how these irons came about.

Specifically the Tommy Armour SS1s. Nicklaus used them from when he turned pro until he switched to VIPs. That’s good enough for me.

Rex - you pretty much nailed it wi this list. Hope you don’t mind me butting in :)


And, I suppose, the 985 Silver Scot Tourney model that spawned them. Generally considered to be the granddaddy of all iron designs.

Unless you give tip of the cap to the DW Brand Frank Ayers 1926 design in hickory which was the original split blade and hijacked by MacGregor/ Tommy Armour !
Vintage various.

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#7 baloo

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 11:10 AM

I really like my 54 Spaldings
Driver, 3W, 4W - Macgregor Custom Tourney
2-10 - 1954 Spalding Synchro Dyned
SW - Wilson Staff
Putter - Bullseye
Ball - Pro Plus

YT Channel - https://www.youtube....PlayVintageGolf

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#8 northplatteriver

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 12:19 PM

I am very partial to 50's Hogans.  Hogan Precision or Hogan Sunburst Sabers would be my choice.  This blade design has been the DNA for many popular clubs for the last 60 years.  Of the two the Sabers are my favorite.
WITB
Hogan 1959 Sunburst Sabers 2-9, Equalizer, Utility Wedge
MacGregor M85 #2, #4, MacGregor 945W #3
1950's MacGregor "Ben Hogan" Parmaker putter


Additional Sets
Hogan 1955 Precision Woods, Persimmon, 1,2,3,4
Hogan 1959 Speed Slot 300, Persimmon, 1,2,3,4
Hogan 1957 Precision Irons 2-9, Equalizer and Exploder
Hogan 1960 Power Thrust 1-9, Equalizer, Utility Wedge, Sand Iron 'Forty Five' , Sand Iron 'Forty Two'

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#9 James the Hogan Fan

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 03:11 PM

The mention of stainless intrigues me. How were stainless clubs compared to the chrome steel clubs of the era? (Nowadays I feel the perception is stainless=cast=bad) I would be tempted to go stainless to avoid the issue of rust, plus my personal favorite wedge was stainless so I’d be curious as to how a full set would play.
Golfing in Finland
Driver: Titleist 908 D2 (9.5)
3 wood: Cleveland hi-Bore (15)
2hi: Callaway BB Diablo (18)
Irons 3-E Hogan Apex Edge Pro/Apex 4 +5/8”
Wedges: Titleist 5612 and Iron Nelson prototype 59°
Putter: Macgregor Autograph Jackie Pung

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#10 SteveNZ

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 03:34 PM


Quote

Unless you give tip of the cap to the DW Brand Frank Ayers 1926 design in hickory which was the original split blade and hijacked by MacGregor/ Tommy Armour !

More than happy to defer to my more learned colleague :)


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#11 deejaid

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 03:48 PM

View PostJames the Hogan Fan, on 15 January 2019 - 03:11 PM, said:

The mention of stainless intrigues me. How were stainless clubs compared to the chrome steel clubs of the era? (Nowadays I feel the perception is stainless=cast=bad) I would be tempted to go stainless to avoid the issue of rust, plus my personal favorite wedge was stainless so I’d be curious as to how a full set would play.

Sounds like a set of 1953 Spalding Top-Flites would be perfect for you to match up with your woods.   There is a real nice set on eBay that I thought of pulling the trigger on but I’m gonna pass as the vintage lengths don’t work for me.  Wouldn’t want to buy them and tear off the grips that have survived 65 years.
In the bag...

Macgregor Toney Penna Super Eye-O-Matic driver
Macgregor M85 Super Eye-O-Matic 3 & 4 woods
Cleveland Classic TC 15 5-wood
Hogan Precision irons  TT Rocket shafts 3-E
Hogan Sand Iron
H&B Grand Slam Mars 70 putter

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#12 baloo

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 03:49 PM

View PostJames the Hogan Fan, on 15 January 2019 - 03:11 PM, said:

The mention of stainless intrigues me. How were stainless clubs compared to the chrome steel clubs of the era? (Nowadays I feel the perception is stainless=cast=bad) I would be tempted to go stainless to avoid the issue of rust, plus my personal favorite wedge was stainless so I’d be curious as to how a full set would play.

My Spaldings are stainless and the feel is fine, not significantly better or worse than the other vintage irons I've played. They're pretty soft and bend very easily.

They age well with no rust as you mentioned. I feel groove ware is similar to traditional irons with the exception of not needing to worry about the finish at all.
Driver, 3W, 4W - Macgregor Custom Tourney
2-10 - 1954 Spalding Synchro Dyned
SW - Wilson Staff
Putter - Bullseye
Ball - Pro Plus

YT Channel - https://www.youtube....PlayVintageGolf

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#13 James the Hogan Fan

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 04:19 PM

View Postdeejaid, on 15 January 2019 - 03:48 PM, said:

View PostJames the Hogan Fan, on 15 January 2019 - 03:11 PM, said:

The mention of stainless intrigues me. How were stainless clubs compared to the chrome steel clubs of the era? (Nowadays I feel the perception is stainless=cast=bad) I would be tempted to go stainless to avoid the issue of rust, plus my personal favorite wedge was stainless so I’d be curious as to how a full set would play.

Sounds like a set of 1953 Spalding Top-Flites would be perfect for you to match up with your woods.   There is a real nice set on eBay that I thought of pulling the trigger on but I’m gonna pass as the vintage lengths don’t work for me.  Wouldn’t want to buy them and tear off the grips that have survived 65 years.

That’s where I’m looking. I just missed a set of top flites, and there is a gorgeous set of RTJ registered’s for cheap, but its gonna be $70 to ship them on (presently) $25 clubs... little groan there. Patience is not my strong suit in these matters, but I have a long time before I’m back in the US, more listings ought to pop up.
Golfing in Finland
Driver: Titleist 908 D2 (9.5)
3 wood: Cleveland hi-Bore (15)
2hi: Callaway BB Diablo (18)
Irons 3-E Hogan Apex Edge Pro/Apex 4 +5/8”
Wedges: Titleist 5612 and Iron Nelson prototype 59°
Putter: Macgregor Autograph Jackie Pung

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#14 deejaid

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 04:35 PM

View PostJames the Hogan Fan, on 15 January 2019 - 04:19 PM, said:

View Postdeejaid, on 15 January 2019 - 03:48 PM, said:

View PostJames the Hogan Fan, on 15 January 2019 - 03:11 PM, said:

The mention of stainless intrigues me. How were stainless clubs compared to the chrome steel clubs of the era? (Nowadays I feel the perception is stainless=cast=bad) I would be tempted to go stainless to avoid the issue of rust, plus my personal favorite wedge was stainless so I’d be curious as to how a full set would play.

Sounds like a set of 1953 Spalding Top-Flites would be perfect for you to match up with your woods.   There is a real nice set on eBay that I thought of pulling the trigger on but I’m gonna pass as the vintage lengths don’t work for me.  Wouldn’t want to buy them and tear off the grips that have survived 65 years.

That’s where I’m looking. I just missed a set of top flites, and there is a gorgeous set of RTJ registered’s for cheap, but its gonna be $70 to ship them on (presently) $25 clubs... little groan there. Patience is not my strong suit in these matters, but I have a long time before I’m back in the US, more listings ought to pop up.

This is the set I was considering.   They look fantastic.

https://rover.ebay.c...tm/153322750198
In the bag...

Macgregor Toney Penna Super Eye-O-Matic driver
Macgregor M85 Super Eye-O-Matic 3 & 4 woods
Cleveland Classic TC 15 5-wood
Hogan Precision irons  TT Rocket shafts 3-E
Hogan Sand Iron
H&B Grand Slam Mars 70 putter

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#15 hnryclay

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 06:45 PM

I have a set of stainless Tourneys, I love the way the play.


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#16 xgolfx

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 12:13 PM

The period. 1945 to 1960 is difficult to quantify, in my opinion.
Top line clubs could only be purchased from home pros at country clubs for most of the period

The ball had great changes, as did clubs and shafts, and grips.

MacGregor and Wilson dominated clubs which changed from a cottage industry to business.

Hogan ,Snead, and Nelson evolved into Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player

There was virtually no foreign events aside from the British Open which were important.
When my friend, Gene Troy , signed Nicklaus for MacGregor, it was for USA only. Gene told me he didn’t give a s##t about other places

Toney Penna introduced the first change in irons with the winged back MT irons in the 1950s.prior to the MTs, most irons were flat back blades

CHARLEY PENNA


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#17 rex235

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 02:03 AM

View Postxgolfx, on 16 January 2019 - 12:13 PM, said:

The period. 1945 to 1960 is difficult to quantify, in my opinion.
Top line clubs could only be purchased from home pros at country clubs for most of the period

The ball had great changes, as did clubs and shafts, and grips.

MacGregor and Wilson dominated clubs which changed from a cottage industry to business.

Hogan ,Snead, and Nelson evolved into Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player

There was virtually no foreign events aside from the British Open which were important.
When my friend, Gene Troy , signed Nicklaus for MacGregor, it was for USA only. Gene told me he didn’t give a s##t about other places

Toney Penna introduced the first change in irons with the winged back MT irons in the 1950s.prior to the MTs, most irons were flat back blades

CHARLEY PENNA

Charley-

What would a book be like, if it focused on the period from 1940-1960?

There once was a Sports Illustrated article on how Golfs past (Hogan), present (Palmer), and future (Nicklaus), met at the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills...

"two books easy."

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#18 xgolfx

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Posted 17 January 2019 - 02:30 PM

Al Barkow wrote  2 great books on that period "Golf,s Golden Grind"and "Gettin To  The Dance Floor"

CHARLEY PENNA

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#19 James the Hogan Fan

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 12:04 AM

Pulled the trigger!!
See the “no new acquisitions” thread, Spalding RTJ registered stainless!
Golfing in Finland
Driver: Titleist 908 D2 (9.5)
3 wood: Cleveland hi-Bore (15)
2hi: Callaway BB Diablo (18)
Irons 3-E Hogan Apex Edge Pro/Apex 4 +5/8”
Wedges: Titleist 5612 and Iron Nelson prototype 59°
Putter: Macgregor Autograph Jackie Pung

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#20 Chris122

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Posted Yesterday, 04:45 PM

View Postxgolfx, on 17 January 2019 - 02:30 PM, said:

Al Barkow wrote  2 great books on that period "Golf,s Golden Grind"and "Gettin To  The Dance Floor"

CHARLEY PENNA

Just to say thank you for mentioning these,"Gettin' To The Dance Floor" arrived today and resulted in an overcooked roast chicken!
My chum JC played against Willie Turnesa in the '47 Walker Cup and I'm enjoying the stuff on Wild Bill and Boo-Boo,a great read.


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