Life Members are presented with a unique set of five hickory-shafted clubs with a period canvas and leather pencil bag – all ready for play! These clubs, unique to Keepers of the Green, are modelled on those used around the 1880s, during the period of Tom Morris, and are handcrafted by skilled clubmakers at the St Andrews Golf Company Ltd. – Scotland’s only remaining traditional golf club manufacturer.
Being faithful to the materials and manufacturing methodologies used in the 1800s these exquisite clubs are fully playable. The Spoon, Cleek, Mid Iron, Niblick and Putter are each stamped with the owner’s membership number – details of which are held on the Keepers of the Green register in St Andrews.
It is the set of clubs that entitles members to participate in the events regularly staged by Keepers of the Green both in the UK and USA – or indeed by members organising challenge matches amongst themselves just as Morris, Robertson, Park and other past 'golfing greats’ did over the links on a regular basis.
From a corporate perspective it is not uncommon for a company (or Club) to take up membership and offer their set to a member of staff or a client to enjoy a hickory experience hosted by Keepers of the Green.
Click the above image for a more detailed view
Playing With Hickory.
The five clubs (Spoon, Cleek, Mid Iron, Niblick and Putter) our members play with are typical of the era just before brassies, bulgers and golf bags were introduced (1888).
The long nosed spoon is used both off the tee and on the fairway. The mid iron is the most used club in the bag, for full shots and and the traditional "bump and run" on the green. Modern balls are used and competition rounds are normally in Stableford form to ensure that everyone gets round the course in a reasonable fashion!
Members are encouraged to play "Challenge Matches" against each other in two ball foursomes. It was the most popular way of playing in the early 19th century. Tom Morris and Allan Robertson used to represent St Andrews against the Parks from Musselburgh and the Dunns from North Berwick when large crowds followed them round. Morris and Robertson were never beaten from 1842 until Allan's untimely death in 1859.
The following year was the start of the Open Championship to see who would take over his mantle as "The Champion Golfer". Tom Morris was runner up by two shots to his great rival Willie Park.
Looking After Hickory.
Every Keepers’ golf club is handcrafted using many natural materials and, as such, some basic care and attention is required to preserve them. The iron heads will rust, given the opportunity. This used to be considered advantageous by some, particularly in wet playing conditions, as rust was thought to impart more backspin and, therefore, more control to the shot. Any rust that may appear can be cleaned away with fine wire wool and thin oil.
The hickory shafts do not like to be kept in hot, dry conditions as this reduces the moisture content in the wood and renders the shafts too brittle; neither do they enjoy being wet as this raises the grain and will soften the shaft. Shafts must be kept dry with a light application of tung or linseed oil once a year, rubbed in with a rag, and benefit from an occasional coating of resinous varnish, applied on a coarse rag with one drop of linseed oil added to the varnish while still on the cloth. A vigorous rubbing action produces heat and a high gloss finish that is waterproof, yet retains moisture within the shaft fibres.
Leather or suede grips can be wiped down with soapy water on a cloth if soiled. A proprietary brand of oil can be used to make the leather grips tacky, if desired. The wood heads benefit from being dried if they have been used in wet conditions. A good furniture wax (without silicones) is best for general maintenance, with an occasional coating of varnish, say once a year if the clubs are used regularly. This is the same varnish as used on the shafts and should be applied using a lint free rag.
There are many examples of early 20th century hickory clubs, both woods and irons, that have their original shafts intact and are still very good clubs to use. We know that with a little care and attention Keepers clubs will retain their exceptional play characteristics for years to come.