A certain commercial site sends me a periodical email which always finishes with an article describing “What’s In The Bag” of a particular professional player. It occurred to me that there might be some interest in similar articles based on the play sets of AGHS members, so I approached member Darron Watt for input purely on the grounds of his detailed responses to the recent membership survey. I reckon I made a pretty good choice. I’ll be chasing up other members for their input in the future – anyone that wishes to volunteer can reach me via this email address. Go on – you know you want to. – Steve.
Name: Darron Watt
Club: Wagga Wagga Country Club NSW
2013 – 2nd Place Australian Hickory Open, Carnarvon Golf Club, Sydney, Australia
2013 – 10th Place World Hickory Open – Montrose, Scotland
2012 – 2nd Place Australian Hickory Open, Carnarvon Golf Club, Sydney, Australia (First ever 18 hole round with hickory). (Darron is perhaps being a bit modest here. The runners-up were only decided after two holes of sudden death play-off. )
Best Rounds with Hickory:
72 – Wagga Wagga Country Club ( par 72)
70 – Monifieth Ashludie, Scotland ( par 70)
|A. G. Spalding 2 Wood – 14 degrees (pictured right):
The most recent purchase in my playing set. I have found it difficult to find a wood that works well off the tee and off the ground. Most clubs have a strong fade or draw bias for me. We have found that running this wood at 43 inches and placing a slight bend in the shaft to bring the hands back in line with the face have worked wonders. In our experience gripping down on woods promotes a better shaft flex through impact. I can consistently hit this wood 215-220 metres off the tee, and nearly as far off the deck.A. G. Spalding 3 Wood – 16 degrees (pictured right):
This is an old favourite that has just found its way back into the bag. Back in 2012 in my first ever hickory round I hit every fairway I used it on. Unfortunately on the 18th hole it cracked all along the face. With a complete rebuild and plenty of glue curing time, this club has wound up in the bag as my backup wood. Its range is consistently around the 200 metre mark.
|W. J. Gibson Kinghorn Wayrite 1 Iron – 20 degrees:
This is my favourite club in the bag. It’s that good I could survive without a wood on some courses. Very strong flighted iron off the tee, and penetrates out to the 195-200 mark. Off the fairway this club is almost even better, allowing me to play a true links running long shot. A very thin flanged sole that is not typical of most of the clubs that I play.W. J. Gibson Kinghorn Star Maxwell Mid Iron – 25 degrees (R)
Although the Wayrite is my favourite club, this mid iron was my go to club on long par threes due to its higher ball flight. Unfortunately last round I noticed a crack appear in the shaft. This shaft has been reglued and binding has been applied over the repaired areas. I need to regain my confidence with this club, learning to trust the shaft (which is stronger than before). Maximum distance – 170 metres.
|R. Forgan St. Andrews Scotia Mashie – 30 degrees (R):
This club has a number of key roles in my bag. It is a strong mashie that produces a high ball flight with plenty of distance. Comfortably handles 160 metres. This club was one of my first hickory clubs, and it also ignited the hickory flame for my good friend, Lachie Wilson. This club reminds my regularly of the reason why I play hickory golf, and the friendships that I have built along the way.R. J. Gibson Royal Calcutta Triplex Mashie – 35 degrees (R)
This is the prettiest club in my bag. I am a huge fan of blade golf irons, and this small head is a beautiful forging that would not look out of place in a modern set. This is my iron that I can work both ways and land a ball softly from 150 metres. On most medium range par threes this is a go to club. Strangely it has the markings of Royal Calcutta Golf Club – India I’m presuming – although research indicates that it is out of the Winton factory in England.
|W. J. Gibson Kinghorn Deep Faced Mashie – 40 degrees (R):
My first ever hickory set was a four piece W. J. Gibson mid iron, deep faced mashie, mashie niblick and putter set. It hung on the wall as a collectable. After going through a period of poor health and golfing struggles I nearly walked away from the game. This club was the first ever club that I middled a golf ball out of, and it began my hickory odyssey. From 135 metres this slightly onset iron is deadly. The dot punched face is not very attractive but somehow it can generate a world of spin. This mashie is also my bump and run special when approaching greens. Most people struggle with the way it looks at address, but it is a great club.G. Brodie Breeze Mashie Niblick – 45 degrees (R):
Once you get the hickory bug you begin a quest for some special clubs. One I wanted early was a niblick with a wide sole and plenty of bounce – you know – the kind that are better out of the sand than the knife like niblicks. This club originally run around 48 degrees and was just a little strong for the touch bunker shots. However it was always dynamite from the fairway around the 100 metre mark. As my set progressed I found that the biggest hole in my bag was around the 115 metre mark. After a lot of testing it was determined that this high bounce club could be strengthened to fill that gap. Now it plays very much like a modern pitching wedge / old school 9 iron. It is versatile on full shots, pitches, fairway bunkers and chip shots.
|Hoylake Southern Cross Niblick – 50 degrees (R):
This is the only Australian forging in my bag. Stamped with an 8 on the sole I can see that is was once the most lofted club in its set. This niblick has a large tear drop face and minimal offset, looking very much like a modern wedge. A club that maxes out at 100 metres it is very playable from all distances inside that number. With a thinner sole than most of my shorter clubs I need to play the ball more forward in my stance to ensure a clean contact. Most of my lofted chips are played with this club.R. J. Gibson Royal Calcutta Niblick – 56 degrees (R):
My one true indulgence is this wide flanged sole niblick. The frustration on not being able to get out the sand with the same reliability as a modern sand iron drove me on a quest to locate a true sand club. This is the only iron that I have purchased from outside of Australia. Every other iron has been found locally. Upon arrival this club was very upright, light in head mass and difficult to control. Now rebuilt, this niblick has given me confidence out of most bunkers. I am slowly learning to master the flop shot over bunkers with it as well.
|A. H. Scott Monoplane Putter – 4 degrees (R):
This was the most amazing find out of all my Australian purchases. Amongst 6 clubs advertised with minimal information I found this beautiful blade putter. The monoplane putter is famous for its low profile, long face, vertical groves on face and a flat side to the leading side of the shaft. I have added extra wraps of leather to this grip to build it up to settle my aging hands. If a sand club is a dream, a favourite putter is an essential. This club is the money maker in the bag. Even when playing a round with modern clubs, I always put in the hickory putter.
Best advice I can give you:
I played with a mixed bag of clubs for a while and thought I was doing okay. Then my good friend, Lachie Wilson, introduced me to the concept of analysing and fine tuning my clubs. Now my clubs all swing around the C6 mark. Have good quality grips, straightened shafts, reglued heads and adjusted lofts and lie angles. The old forgings are easily bent if you have access to good quality equipment and someone with an understanding of hickory clubs. My set has a consistent gap of 5 degrees between irons and all clubs feel and swing the same. If a shaft breaks we set out to replace the shaft as close as possible to the old profile.
“The one club you would like to have in you play set, and why”.
I am a huge fan of the W. J. Gibson clubs out of Kinghorn, Scotland. The dream club that I continually search the internet for is the Gibson Dominie Sander Niblick with Danga Wood Shaft. I probably shouldn’t be sharing this with you as it will ultimately make it harder for me to find. I have a Tad Moore Replica of this club and it is better than any modern sand iron I have ever hit. Tad modelled this club exactly from the Gibson original. Whilst replica clubs allow many people to access the hickory form of the game, our hearts truly lay with playing original clubs. A close second would be the George Nicoll of Leven Howitzer Niblick. A price cannot be placed on a wide flanged sole on a heavy and lofted niblick.
“What is your preferred ball for hickory play, and why”.
I am a huge advocate of “the lower the compression, the better the ball” way of thinking. Initially I used the Precept Lady golf balls. A soft ball that, unfortunately, had a hard cover. My next move was too the Callaway HX Diablo ball. I found this ball to be the best combination of core softness and cover spin rate for my game. This ball was in my bag for the past year.
Recently I have begun testing the new Callaway Supersoft ball. I love the feeling of a super soft ball off my putter face and this ball is the softest I have encountered. It performs exactly like the Diablo with a slightly softer feel. If you ever get the chance the Macintyre mesh pattern replica ball is a great ball (see “Links” page for Macintyre Golf Company.). A Wilson duo core covered with a square mesh cover that simulates early 20th century golf balls. These balls roll better than any ball I have ever putted in my whole life.