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Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 24, 2007 | Go to article overview
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The Bargain Hunter gets into to the swing of antique golf

THE last time I played a round of golf was with my father-in-law at his club. My attempt at sauntering onto the first tee with a nonchalant air was spoilt by the club professional - who happened to be passing - pointing at my bag and exclaiming in astonishment, "Look at that, wooden clubs!"

Nowadays, even the "woods" in a set are made from metal: lightweight titanium which allows the heads to be much larger.

Clubs like mine, as I point out whenever I do a bad shot, are much more difficult to use.

My clubs are not so much antiques as antiquated. I bought them in the 1970s from a shop rather like Auntie's in Last of the Summer Wine.

They have steel shafts which became the norm from about 1935.

The club heads of most of the irons proudly declare they are "hand forged", although this means hand made in a factory, not hand forged by a local blacksmith, as they might have been in the 18th century.

A couple bear the old, romantic names as well as their modern numbers.

The 8 iron is marked "niblick", while the 7 is a "mashie niblick". The change from names to numbers largely took place in the 1930s.

My woods aren't numbered at all. Both have brass base plates, which is what gave them their traditional name of "brassies".

Most collectors look for older golf clubs than mine. The most collectable tend to date from the 19th century - clubs from before this are extremely rare.

Particularly popular are the clubs with elongated heads known as long-nosed woods.

The early ones were made from local hard woods, such as apple or beech, the best-known makers being in Scotland.

In America, club-makers started using hickory for the shafts, and as this performed better than the traditional ash or hazel, the Scots were soon importing it to use in their own clubs.

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