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While it is very satisfying to restore and hang a beautiful club on the wall, most classic gear has a large amount of life left. Indeed, this gear was meant to be played and although it’s great fun to watch Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino in the rear view mirror one of the goals in setting up this site was to promote traditional golf as a feasible (and in many ways more nuanced and satisfying) framework for today.

That’s why I’m excited to share what I hope will be the first of a series of “Outings” that show regular (and some not so regular) folks enjoying a game in the classic sense. Persimmon Golf Today contributors Addington Arnie and Christian filed this video from their recent outing at Colchester Golf Club (UK). Assuming that the internet’s demand for rare swing footage of Arnie doesn’t crash our server, you can find the video below.

We had a chance to follow up with the guys for a short Q&A after the round. Enjoy!

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Persimmon Golf Today: Can you tell us a little bit about the course you played today? Who was the architect and when was it built? Is it parkland? Links?

Christian: The course is a parkland course located near the historic town of Colchester in the South East of England. It was designed by the multiple Open winner James Braid and opened in 1907. Its fairways are generally tree lined. The greens are small and have some undulations. There are a number of bunkers but nothing over the top. Its significant challenges are the long par fours of which it boasts 4. It is a delightful course (I am a new member).

Persimmon Golf Today: You chose to put a full set of Macgregor PT1W irons and woods in your bag and you mentioned you enjoy keeping the full set together. Do you find that the irons compliment the woods well? For instance, I’m familiar with the PT1W Driver and it’s known as a moderately sized driver with swept curves in the back and medium height. Are the irons rounded and curvy or more boxy? What is your impression of the weight, offset, and topline?

Christian: The irons are two years older than the woods. You may have noticed that on the sole plates of the woods the Macgregor stamping was capitalised a feature for the year 1960 and (perhaps) the take over of MacGregor by Brunswick shortly before. The colokrom copper faces on the irons are pre FC4000 (Flame ceramic) which was Mac’s next innovation (gimmick?) for iron faces (during which the faces were heated to 4000 degrees centigrade supposedly to allow better contact (’grabbing’) of the ball. The toe of the iron of this set is fairly rounded but the leading edge is very straight and for some might encourage digging. This seemed more common of the irons made for the general market of this time. I have seen thinner top lines in my time but compared to a ’game improved’ cavity back the top line of the PT1’s is thin. They are a heavy iron. Arnie and I weighted them some time ago (sadly I don’t have the stats to hand) and they are very different from today’s light models and shafts. But there is something very ’solid’ in them at the level of feel. Very little offset in the irons as more common then. Indeed a selling feature was that the shaft was ahead of the clubhead, in other words putting the hands ahead ’assuring pinpoint accuracy, crisper shots and truer approaches to the green’ (Kaplan, J. ’MacGregor Golf: History Catalogues’, see 1958 entry, p. 2-3 (Vintage Publishing Co.sm, Rancho Mirage CA). With the irons shorter than standard and the lofts greater than today’s the ball does appear to go less far relatively speaking but this should not be interpreted as a sign of inferior design. It is true that these vintage clubs take more time to get used to than cavities, as all blades do, but the feel from good contact is far more psychologically powerful on confidence than using technology to obscure faults (the latter always breaks down under pressure).

Persimmon Golf Today: You mentioned the course is around 6100 yards from the yellow tees. Are there many players at your club who pack titanium drivers and find themselves flipping wedges into a lot of holes? If so, why don’t you choose to play that way? Wouldn’t that be easier?

Christian: Arnie and I discuss this conundrum when we play persimmon games. I have only been a member a few weeks at this club and have not seen any persimmon gamers but certainly their are modern blades players here. I have been a member of six clubs in my time and only as a junior, in the 90’s were player’s still persimmon woods due to the historical context. I have played this course with a modern driver and putter and yes it is a drive and flip wedge course! It is easier. Why play persimmon? – the golden question to which we all have different answers. I play because they improve my game with modern clubs – no question. This is when I practice. I play persimmon games because it is just so nice to play with people who bring vintage clubs out, know their history and their design, and remain in touch with golf history. Although this is a matter of opinion there is something positive in keeping in touch with history in order to understand the present. Indeed there is something vaguely ’natural’ to play a game with natural wood, hand crafted, hand made (to a certain extent) which has been all but lost today. Ray Mears meets golf so to speak(!). I also game persimmon because I think if they can do it then, why can we do it now, especially on the older courses.

Persimmon Golf Today: Did you fall into any of the architect’s traps this round? Is there a particular shot that would play differently next time?

Christian: I am afraid I was not that observant! With the course not being too long and playing the modern ball (I gamed a Maxfli Revolution 90 (about 10 years old)) some of the 1907 hazards were not so even for 60’s blades and persimmon. I certainly made errors in judgement based on the loft of the blades compared to my usual 1980 ’67 VIP copies. This course was designed in the hickory era. The ’classic’ or persimmon era is still very adaptable to most courses today I feel. Indeed I found I hit some of the longest drives on a few holes compared to my modern Macgregor MT driver.

Persimmon Golf Today: Do you have a particularly memorable shot from your outing?

Christian: As all the members at ’Persimmon Golf Today’ will appreciate, the sound and feel of solid contact between ball and persimmon wood is truly marvellous. Hence Some of my better tee shots were very pleasurable. The odd 300 yarder shows how little the game has really changed despite what many have come to accept.

Persimmon Golf Today: How would you change your bag makeup the next time you play this course, if at all?

Christian: Like Arnie I have a number of vintage sets I have collected. My entry into collecting was perhaps unorthodox. I watched Nicklaus videos and read his books when self-teaching the game (this was inspired by Nicklaus’ 5th place at the 1998 Masters when I was 16 – I wanted to know more about this man). Hence when I began to collect it was Nicklaus models which, during his winning phase were all MacGregor. I have had a love affair with Mac vintage ever since. So I have the pleasure of playing a number of sets as and when I choose: 1959 SS1’s, 1965 MT1’s, 1958 PTI9’s, 1978 VIP’s, 1980 ’67s, in addition drivers: TA 945W, 1960 PT1W (set), TA 693 (3 wood), 1965 MT1 (1,3,4 woods), and a driver apparently made for Jack by his club maker Jack Wulkotte, 1952-3 M55W (1,2,3 with stiff shafts). And numerous putters including a remake of the George Low Bristol 600. So lots of choice and lots of fun. The differences are not that great except for loft and perhaps lie assuming the swing remains consistent (!).

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Persimmon Golf Today: How was the weather for the round today? Is this course protected by weather? Hazards? What sort of traps are out there?

Addington Arnie: It was a typical British autumnal day, a reasonable breeze with some dark clouds threatening rain but which fortunately for us didn’t amount to anything. The course is a James Braid design from 1907 and is similar to my home course in that the joy is in its simplicity. Some tree lined, gently undulating fairways without undue pressure on the swing, tightly bunkered approaches to smallish greens. Short walks between tees and greens and just 6,350 from the tips with a par of 70. It took Christian and I just 3 hours to get round.

Persimmon Golf Today: You chose to game your Kel Nagle irons and some modified Titleist woods. Were there any holes that were so long you wouldn’t be able to reach in regulation with well struck shots?

Addington Arnie: No not at all though the key phrase in your questions is “well struck shots”!

Persimmon Golf Today:What is your stock shot with this gear? When you encountered holes that didn’t fit that shot type, did you stick with your stock shot and try to fit it perfectly or did you try to work the ball? How did you fare, in general?

Addington Arnie: I have always had a draw as my natural shot and hit the ball relatively low. The fact that I have never developed the ability to hit a fade easily found me out on more than one occasion during this round. Definitely a faders course! Most strikingly on our final hole which doglegs left to right with a right to left wind with trouble on the left. The sort of tee shot that wakes me up at night lol! I wouldn’t say I played my best but I hit enough good shots to thoroughly enjoy myself on a fun course with excellent company.

Persimmon Golf Today: Did you fall into any of the architects traps this round? Is there a particular shot that would play differently next time?

Addington Arnie: I think I would play a 3 wood or 2 iron off the tee on a few occasions instead of hitting driver. It was the first time I had played the course and can now see that position was more important than distance as it often is in retrospect!.

Persimmon Golf Today: Do you have a particularly memorable shot from your outing?

Addington Arnie: I hit a couple of 3 irons into a the wind that found the greens on par 3′s. I really enjoyed those, one of which you can see on the vid I think. You can catch the slightly surprised smile just at the end I think lol ;-)

Persimmon Golf Today:How would you change your bag makeup the next time you play this course, if at all? Did you bias your set towards more wedges or more fairway woods/long irons?

Addington Arnie: No I think that bag is set up fine for most of the courses I would ever play.

3 Responses to “Persimmon Golf Today Outings – Colchester Golf Club (UK), 17 Oct 2011”

  1. A fun day. Christian pipped me 2 & 1 for those who want the “gory” details. We hope it will inspire a few other to post themselves hitting persimmon or have a game with friends.

  2. Avatar of Sunset Flush Sunset Flush says:

    Nice job Christian and Arnie! It takes no small bit of bravery to put yourself online in a video! I really enjoyed the trip through the bag and around the course. It looks like you had a great time. You both have quality swings. I’ve been enjoying persimmon golf more lately and I’m glad that others are doing the same. Will you be posting more videos?

  3. Thanks Sunset Flush. I’m sure your right that posting video of your own golf swing is something that doesn’t come comfortably to many, including me. But now its “out there” then I will be happy to do more as and when I have the pleasure of playing with other persimmon players on PGT. As long as I have editorial control of course lol! Hope we get a chance to see you and a few others submit some clips of bag walkthroughs.

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