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Friend and PGT contributor Neil (NRG) has established a reputation as a skilled craftsman and supporter of traditional golf (see an example of his work above).  I asked if he would mind giving a short interview  so that we can learn a bit more about him, his craft, and his thoughts on golf.  Enjoy!

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Persimmon Golf Today: How long have you been around the game of golf? Who introduced you to the game and where did you grow up playing? Do you remember what your earliest golf clubs were like?

Neil – NRG: I started playing age 12 in the mid 80’s, my Grandfather was Captain and Secretary at Backworth Golf Club in the North East of England. My first set of clubs were a black laminate 3 wood with a red insert and no screws, the irons were 2nd hand blades 5, 7, 9 and SW with no brand name, they just said Junior. I can’t remember the putter.

Persimmon Golf Today: At what point did you consider exploring clubwork and clubmaking? How did you learn the craft? Do you do work at home or do you have a shop?

Neil – NRG: I was playing a few years ago when out of the blue I had this idea to set up my clubs different to the standard set-up. So I bought a loft & lie machine and a swing weight machine and went about making a set to the specification I had in mind. That got me started. Then I joined ABS and put together an ABS spec set, first some flattened persimmons, then some weighted irons. I’ve picked up most by either trial and error and learning people on the ABS forum and learning stuff from guys like Mike, Chris and Ray here. I am now GCA professionally qualified and have a workshop at Backworth Golf Club.

Persimmon Golf Today: I know you do a lot of work for the guys over at Advanced Ball Striking who have what some would call ”extreme” equipment protocols. How did you end up over there and what has your experience with ABS been like? Did you start out simply as a student and eventually wind up helping with club work and modifications?

Neil – NRG: I was surfing Youtube a few years ago and came across some Lee Trevino videos that I liked cause I used to love watching Trevino on the old Pro/Celeb stuff at Turneberry, so I got chatting with the guy whose videos they were, he (Arnie) introduced me to ABS and it didn’t take me long to realize that John Ericksons knowledge of the golf swing is pretty special and I signed up after about a month or so. I am currently working on Module 8, the Super Slotting Module and the short game Modules too. It’s not easy stuff, sometimes progress feels really slow. But I am really happy with the progress we’ve made in the last couple of years, though I see it as being a long term thing. I just started out doing the club work for myself and then started doing some clubs for a few other students. I now do work for students all over the UK and around Europe as well.

Persimmon Golf Today: Is there a particular club or set of clubs that you have worked on that are memorable either for the challenge of the job or the satisfaction with the finished product?

Neil – NRG: Not really; the challenge in clubmaking is finding the right tool for the job. It’s amazing how you can be stymied by not having the right length drill bit or type of stain.

Persimmon Golf Today: I suspect you are one of the few people capable of changing the lie angle on a titanium driver more than a couple degrees. How did you learn to modify modern gear and how does the process of customizing today’s equipment differ from customizing vintage irons or persimmons?

Neil – NRG: I got some pointers from someone in Australia (one of the guys in the offset removal video you posted here). He told me that it was Tour Van quality sort of stuff and not to bother even trying cause I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I just snapped a few old drivers working a few things out. It’s not so different to working on the old stuff, it’s just a bunch of components that you heat them up, pull them apart and glue it all back together.

Persimmon Golf Today: What is the oldest club you have worked on? Have you been involved with the hickory gear and hickory tournaments that are gaining steam across the world? If not, would you consider playing and working in the hickory arena at some point or are you persimmon and steel through and through?

Neil – NRG: I’ve flattened and weighted a Hickory Driver already and got a couple of putters and plan to get a full set together this year. The tricky bit I guess will be finding some with the right flex shafts. I like the idea of being able to play all forms of the game.

Persimmon Golf Today: Where do you play out of now and what sort of gear do you use? Do you rotate gear or have a pretty consistent bag makeup?

Neil – NRG: I play my competitive golf at Newbiggin-by-the Sea Golf Club and practice at Backworth. I’ve played with Persimmon for the last 2 years, including all competitions. I’ve always played blades. I seem to have a different set of clubs each time I turn out, but would like to get a settled set by the start of this season. Am currently using a Burke Driver, Titleist Tour Model 5 wood, Wilson Staff Blades, Hogan Precision Gap Wedge (SW with bounce removed), 1955 MacGregor Colokrom SW and a John Letters blade putter.

Persimmon Golf Today: What aspect of the game gives you the most enjoyment these days? Is it more about exercise and beautiful scenery? The challenge of competition against yourself and old man par? Working with the equipment? Competition against club members or area amateurs in organized events?

Neil – NRG: I really love being able to spend time with my mates, the lack of mobile phones for a few hours and occasionally scaring par.

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Newbiggin-by-the Sea Golf Club

3 Responses to “PGT Interview – Neil (NRG)”

  1. Avatar of In the Dirt In the Dirt says:

    I really enjoyed this interview: straightforward and honest like classic golf on a historic track. Great work on that hickory club NRG. Good luck with your golf and your business!

  2. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    Thanks to PGT for coming up with some well constructed questions and thanks to Neil for taking the time to come up with some very interesting answers, paticularly about the clubfitting! I am tempted to start having a little dabble in that, maybe some moderate refurb efforts to start.

    If I make it up your direction we must have a game Neil! Have you had any success in the competitions when playing persimmon ? I imagine that using proper woods on a seaside track when the wind is howling in across the North Sea might actually be an advantage! Have you maintained your handicap ?

  3. Avatar of Neil - NRG Neil - NRG says:

    I managed to win in just my second club competition out using persimmon, shot a 75 net 68 (par 72). My handicap was 6.5 at the start of 2010, I got down to about 5.8 a couple of times and is currently 6.2. I don’t really find that it affects my scores much , I usually average about 80 whatever I use. The wind has a lot to do with the scores up here and at least I can try to kep them down using a persimmon and I never could do that with a Titanium.

    I suggest you pick out your worst persimmon, cut off the whipping and get sanding (don’t use anything rougher than 100 grit). You will be amazed how well it comes out.

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