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I can’t state strongly enough that traditional golf gear (persimmon and blades) is a feasible and particularly enjoyable framework to enjoy golf  in the modern era. That’s why I really love hearing and sharing stories of successes, whether they be single swings, a few holes at dusk, casual rounds with old friends, or city championships. I recently had a chance to catch up with PGT  contributor Blade Junkie after a memorable club tournament featuring stableford scoring.  Sure enough, his 43 points held up for 1st place!  Junkie was nice enough provide some details on the course, the round, and his experience playing traditional gear in the modern age.  Be sure to congratulate him next time you see him around!

This is one of my favorite quotes of the year:  “I like to make this game as hard as possible for myself with my choice of equipment, as then I know that all my good shots MUST be down to me, and me alone, and if I hit a bad one I can always blame the club” :)


Persimmon Golf Today: Can you tell us a little bit about the course? What is it called and where is it located? Is it parkland or links? How many yards was it playing on tournament day?

Blade Junkie:  I am a member at Goodwood, which is a club near Chichester in the South of England.

Goodwood has two courses:

The Downs course is a remodeled James Braid downland layout that dates back to 1914. Par 71, 7,104 yards off the Silver (back) tees, 6,674 off the Whites and 6,331 off the yellows.

The Park course is a mature parkland layout designed by Donald Steel. Par 72, 6,650 yards off the Whites, and 6,298 yards off the yellow tees.

There are some nice pics of both courses on the club website http://www.goodwood.co.uk/golf-at-goodwood/the-courses/the-courses.aspx

I probably enjoy playing The Park course a little more as The Downs is really tough, rated I think in the top 10 in the country for difficulty by English PGA Professionals – I heard that Ian Poulter played it and shot 75 in a pro-am. Typically I average 10 shots worse on the Downs than on The Park, mainly due to lost balls courtesy of my horrible Titanium driver. The Downs does have some really fantastic holes though. We have an annual hickory tournament off the front tees, as part of the Goodwood Revival Festival, and that really brings out the design intent of the original Braid holes.

This particular Stableford tournament I entered with the full retro set was off the Yellow tees on the Park course. 35 people entered – full results here: http://www.masterscoreboard.co.uk/results/CompetitionResult.php?MSBid=b8ff9582373814553129d2010f5719c2&CWID=1674&Competition=2827

Persimmon Golf Today:  How did you set up your bag for the tournament? Woods? Irons? Wedges?

Blade Junkie:  I had Driver (Paul Gibson Hand Made – regular shaft loft about 10 degrees I think), Fairway Wood (Joe Powell Smoker – 13.5 degree, S-300 shaft) and then Ben Hogan Apex II Irons – 2-E, a Hogan Special SW, and an old Palm Springs #7 flanged Bullseye-style putter that I bought in 1983 when I was 16. So only 13 clubs, assembled at a cost of £52 ($75), of which over half was the putter (which was brand new when I originally got it) special mention to my Coca Cola-branded vintage bag that was £2.20 on the bay and was very nice to carry around the course.

I noticed after the round that my SW is quite worn and has no grooves left on the bottom half of the face. It nevertheless performed fine so maybe all this stuff about grooves is all hype :) )

Persimmon Golf Today:  Was this the first time you had played persimmon and blades with this group? What kind of reaction did you get from your playing partners?

Blade Junkie:  My playing partner has watched with bemused interest as I have steadily increased the vintage component of my bag over the summer. This day, we played through a 4-ball on a short par-4, who had all already hit their tee shots. I pulled out the Paul Gibson and one of them said “is that a wood?” Cue everyone having a look, admiring the craftsmanship, looking at me like I was mad, cooing when I middled it, and looking at the floor when it sailed past their frying pan efforts. “It goes quite nicely when you hit it right” I said as I walked off up the fairway.

Persimmon Golf Today: Can you take us through a few memorable holes or memorable shots? Was there a point in the round where you felt like you had it going and maybe had a chance to win the tournament?

Blade Junkie:  Hit a 7-Iron tee shot to 5 feet on the 154 yard 2nd, and then missed the birdie putt.

I made a nice birdie on the 372 yard 3rd, holing a 30 footer from just off the green after a reasonable drive into the fairway and a 6-iron from about 150 that was pin-high, but pulled slightly onto the left fringe.

Highlight of the day was when my playing partner hit a hybrid to 10 feet on the 192 yard 11th. “Beat that Retro Boy” he said. I took out my Smoker, teed it up a bit, took a nice easy swing and carried it inside his ball, although it rolled on another 20 feet. That was a good moment for both of us.

I think I realized I might have a chance of winning the tournament when I clocked in with 22 points on the front nine and then started with 5 straight 3 pointers on the more difficult back nine.

I thought 43 points with a retro bag was a good effort, seeing as I missed 4 makeable birdie putts and also missed from less than two feet with two par putts.

I feel that I can get it round this course in the middle/low 70s if I have a good day, and continue to improve back to the level I used to play at 15 years ago (I ran into some back problems in my 30s and only came back to golf this summer after a 5 year break, getting 23.0 as my first handicap back)

I struggled with the driver when I resumed golfing, but since switching to persimmon, I have knocked 5.2 shots off my handicap in two months.

Persimmon Golf Today:  Some people think if you hit persimmon off the tees you will have long irons into every hole. Is that what you found or were you able to hit most of the clubs in your bag?

Blade Junkie:  I used every club that day at least twice, which was a lot of fun and made the round very interesting, challenging and enjoyable.

Long irons aren’t as difficult to hit as many people make out. I hit a 2-Iron provisional shot 205 yards into a headwind with a beautiful draw on the 18th to a foot short of the green. That was the best iron shot of the day, and maybe of my year, and unfortunately it didn’t even count. The first 2-iron shot was a snap hook to 50 yards short of the green and under a large low tree canopy. I managed to use the same 2-iron to hit a running chip out very low to about 35 feet and 2-putted for a bogey six, and the win by a point!

With this Hogan set, it’s fun to hit all the irons. Overall, I wouldn’t say I was hitting them great that day, a few excellent, many very average, but fortunately my short game was “on” when I needed it.

Persimmon Golf Today: Do you think the results might raise some eyebrows at your club as to the utility of persimmon and blades in the modern age?

Blade Junkie:  I imagine a few people might blink in disbelief, think about it, and then pass it off as a fluke or a bad dream, and have another gin and tonic.

My ambition is to win the Club Championship playing hickory! That would certainly get them all twitching.

In all seriousness, I think many people are very attached to their modern kit, and are more interested in their score and their driver distance, than how it feels to hit a great shot. But they are definitely taking a bit of notice. I intend to persist with my range of retro blades and woods, and to see if I can’t get at least a few people to buy themselves some old school clubs and have a go.

As I keep telling them: “I like to make this game as hard as possible for myself with my choice of equipment, as then I know that all my good shots MUST be down to me, and me alone, and if I hit a bad one I can always blame the club” :)   )

It’s pressure free golf and you can just play golf as a game, for FUN, and not worry too much about the score.


Goodwood (Downs):

12 Responses to “A Victory For One of Our Own”

  1. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Me too! Congrats to Blade Junkie for his great play with classic gear. Pretty inspirational. The course looks really nice. There are a few holes I saw on the site that look like a classic course I play occasionally. You guys in the UK are so spoiled with such great tracks.

  2. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    The one hole that really stood out to me for some reason is the 8th at the Park, looks like a fairly long par 3. To me that looks like a classic Ross Par 3. Very inviting for a solid shot and one you could hit in front and bounce up. Great course!

  3. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    freddiec: thanks for your kind remarks. The 8th is a nice hole , dominated by a large tree overhanging the right side of the green. Plenty of teeshots hit that! The 11th is even better – a longer carry to a shallow green : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gw7LwoIbW8w

    PGT : have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVoB6ON5lZc&feature=related I don’t know who the player is but you get the idea of the 12th on The Downs quite well. Downhill 154 yards from the Whites; variable wind directions – bunkers everywhere and a green with two levels – great hole.

    These Goodwood videos are interesting as well:

    The Vintage Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxRU8sK-ScE&feature=related

    The Triby Tour:

    If they do the Trilby Tour thing again in 2012 then I will enter with my persimmon and blades. I played the Downs last weekend with the same bag, and scored a gross 92 which included two 7s and an eleven (it’s that kind of course!).

    The Hickory event is an annual pairs event in September (as part of the Goodwood Revival Festival) and I came second in that this year. It was this event that got me hooked on vintage/retro golf. I hope to get hold of my own hickory set in the new year, and then I’ll try and play with that at least once a fortnight.

    It goes without saying that I’d be happy to host anyone from this site that fancies playing at Goodwood.

    • Blade – That video of the 12th is pretty incredible. I just love the backdrop of the huge trees and the bunkering that completes a full circuit around the putting surface. It feels like if I peered into that forest from the green I might catch a glimpse of Robin Hood or Friar Tuck.

  4. Very inspiring stuff Blade. Stories like this give me courage to try myself in a competitive setting. Great recap too. Well done. Cheers.

  5. I forgot to mention: beautiful track too! I agree with freddiec that you guys are spoiled across the pond!

  6. Avatar of Sunset Flush Sunset Flush says:

    Congratulations Junkie! Score one for the good guys!

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

    Well played Blade Junkie. Top stuff.

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