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Last week another shameful decision by one of golf’s governing bodies (this time the Australian PGA) denied the chance for what could have been a really neat episode of traditional golf on the biggest stage. Rules officials made a preemptive strike on Hickory Golf Champion Perry Somers’ bid to use his hickory golf clubs at the Australian PGA Championship at Coolum. Somers competes primarily in the traditional golf format and last year won the Australian, Scottish, German, Czech, Dutch and world hickory shaft opens. Why was he turned down? According to the PGA tournament manager, the craftsman who produced the clubs stamped the grooves by hand and was therefore unlikely to have made them parallel to each other.

Now I have never played hickory golf but there is no doubt in my mind that persimmon/steel and persimmon/hickory offer similar alternatives to the Frankenstein’s monster that modern golf has become. Traditional gear acts as a regulator on distance by penalizing off center hits. It forces the golfer to face the challenges the architect intended. It offers true and useful feedback that helps the golfer gain and retain sensory awareness and an elevated skill level. Here’s what Somers had to say on his transition to hickory. These thoughts should sounds familiar for many members of this site. I know they did for me.

“It is amazing how well they perform when swung correctly and how punishing they are on poor technique. So one is forced to ‘listen’ to the club and develop a more harmonious relationship”.

“I stepped out of the very narrow focus of the full time touring golfer and started to re-educate myself, broaden my horizons”.

Now I could delve deeper into the excuses of the Australian PGA and provide sound rational why no grooves, even machined, are truly parallel but in this case a logical argument would only legitimize their stance by taking it seriously. I’m sure we will see belly putters, rangefinders (practice rounds), alignment aids, etc at the Australian PGA. I’m confident that no drivers will be measured to see if they are actually 460cc or if one of their adjustable weight port screws happens to be unthreaded a bit thereby exceeding the 460cc limit. Why? I think it’s a mix between the rules officials wanting to validate their worth by flexing their power against those who don’t have millions of dollars to hire lawyers and sue. Additionally, I suspect the modern PGA braintrust has no interest in supporting a story that might lead announcers and/or those folks who still remember to elucidate on the lost aspects of golf: accuracy off the tee, ground golf played close to the turf, and loyalty and respect for a single piece or set of equipment that can last for a decade or even a century. Equipment loyalty is terrible for business and what would it mean to Taylor Made if golf clubs were shown to last 100 years!

Since I’m too young to sound like a bitter old man, I’ll break out of my negative mindset and suggest some positive options to upset the status quo:

-Check out the TRGA and their upcoming open event.

-Check out the Society of Hickory Golfers and their ongoing events.

Links to full article and one from last year:

One Response to “Perry Somers and the Australian PGA”

  1. Avatar of hickorychris hickorychris says:

    Well, what a story, and a fine measured response may I say. I’ve been actively engaged in the hickory golf scene since 1995 and always perceived that it held no threat to the commercial interests of the modern game. Perhaps I have been wrong.

    At a personal level I always wanted to win a regular event with hickories…..and then get DQ’d for playing non conforming equipment which would make a much better headline than the win…. but no authorities that I ran into at Club level were that naive!

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