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I thought it would be a good time to get back to the heart and soul of this site and community – great traditional golf gear.  I don’t have a massive collection but it’s decent and I’ll do my best to take you through my favorite irons sets and persimmons.

Let’s start off with the MacGregor M85.

The original MT Tourney models ran from 1950-1954. Designed by playing professional Toney Penna, the clubhead is reduced in size to effectively lower the center of gravity and the lofts were set 1 degree strong relative to other irons of the time. The primary designs are designated 85 for stiff, 75 for medium stiff (firm), 65 for regular, and 55 for senior/ladies.  Additional lettering indicates different grips. The 1950 line includes M85T, M85, M89T, M89, M75T, M75, M65T, M65.  The 1951 and 1952 models have a thicker topline and  include all of the above along with M85TB, M75TB, M85B, M75TB, and M65B.   The trailing edge of the 1953 and 1954 models is beveled and the 1953 line includes M85W, M85TW, M75TW, M75W, M70TW, M70W, M65W, and M55W.  The colokrom versions with the copper plated face continue from 1955 to 1957 and have slightly longer blades.  For stiff versions,  stock shafts were true temper with a silver band.

I believe my set is the 1952 version of the M85T with the thick topline.  This model is plenty functional and has been working its way into my bag more often.  Here’s what I like about the clubs and some general comments on their performance:

  • The heads of these irons are quite small.  Most vintage irons have smaller heads than modern clubs but what sets the M85s apart is the size of the short irons.  For example, Wilson irons from the Dynapower line tend to have small-headed long irons but the short irons are really large.  Even the short irons of the M85′s are compact and exude confidence.  It’s all sweet spot!
  • These irons are extremely heavy.  I know many readers here enjoy heavier gear and with this model you won’t be disappointed.  Even most vintage gear requires lead tape.  Not so with these.  The head is small but the weight comes from the additional thickness, long hosel, and the V shaped back pad.
  • No bounce on the M85′s so they will dig.  You would think this would be better for firmer turf and maybe so, but I find myself using them more on wet days.  I really like the feeling of the heavy head slicing through the wet turf like a hot knife through butter.  They work fine on firm ground but I find my wrists get jarred and I get tentative with my wrist action.
  • Distance with these clubs is equivalent to my modern gear.  I haven’t measured the lofts on this set but I have observed that club for club, the irons get equal distance to modern irons.  All my other vintage sets yield distances 1/2 to 1 club shorter than modern gear due to the relatively high lofts and shorter shafts.
  • No offset at all. Almost reverse offset on some irons.  Center shaft lines up with 3rd groove or higher.
  • Extremely solid feel but demanding.  With the sharp front edges you better have your lowpoint under control.  I never thought I’d like the visual appearance of the thick topline but contrary to the big shovels of today, this is a thick topline on a very small clubhead.  The sense is that you have a little cannonball down there at the end of the shaft and a properly struck shot is pure heaven on the senses.

A decent set of M85s can be had for around $100 on ebay.  The colokrom versions go for slightly more.  These are a top shelf,  compact blade and have spawned multiple re-boots and copies over the years including a 1980′s version by Macgregor (identified by the “Tour Forged” stamping on the hosel and a thinner topline).  Definitely worth adding to your collection.

*If you have any additional information on the M85 or if you think I’ve made factual errors, please leave a comment below and I’ll edit accordingly.

Sources:  Golf Club Identification and Price Guide IV (Golfworks), Golf Classics Price and Identification Guide (Mike Doherty)

7 Responses to “Classic Club Profile – MacGregor M85T”

  1. Avatar of skinnybuddah skinnybuddah says:

    Those sure a lovely looking set of abs clubs and a nice read.

    I hear what you’re saying on no bounce and wet days, being in the uk I have experienced a few wet days(!) and this is something that I like the feel of as well.

    Looking forward to seeing and reading the notes on the rest of your collection

  2. Avatar of Anton Anton says:

    Great post! How heavy are they exactly ? I would be very interested to learn what is the total club weight for any of them, say 6 iron, and what shafts you have installed ( I’m assuming original shafts wont survive that long under elements ). If its not too much trouble for you to weight one and post back that would be appreciated.

  3. Hi Anton and welcome. I don’t know the weight or the swingweight off the top of my head but I will find out this weekend and post it up. I lucked out an actually found a well preserved set with the original shafts, true temper pinned with the silver band so mine still have the originals. I suspect these add to the total weight because as I understand it, stiff shaft were made in large part simply by making the wall thickness greater (so the dead weight goes up). They actually had the original grips too but they were too worn to use and I wanted to play these clubs. I’ll get back to ya on the specs.

  4. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Nice post!! Those irons do look like they could really punish the ball with a good strike. I like how they have a thicker top line, which I think would instill confidence by the player. I’d guess they would be someplace around a D4 swing weight or higher. With that model MacGregor staff actually reduced the size of their blade, but increased the effective hitting area with muscle design on the back (per the Kaplan book).

  5. Avatar of Anton Anton says:

    Thanx! Original shafts are even better! If it saves you time, I dont really need to know swing weight, the total weight is what I’m really interested in.

  6. Avatar of Sunset Flush Sunset Flush says:

    Classic set there guys! One of the best. Toney Penna did indeed do these designs in a time when clubs were made my top notch players, not necessarily engineers. I can see him in my mind grinding the prototype clubhead then hitting some balls, grinding some more, hitting some more, iterating, on and on, until something beautful emerges.

  7. Avatar of hickorychris hickorychris says:

    Post Jan 2017
    I’ve just since the R&A video recording of Peter Thompson reminiscing about his career and in particular his Open Championship win in 1954.
    He says he told Toney Penna he couldn’t play the MacGregor clubs he was contracted to playbecause he knew he couldn’t win the Open and he might as well have stayed at home in Australia.
    He borrowed a set of John Letters clubs, Master Models, and duly won with them.
    Interesting that he preferred the Master Models vs the M85s.

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