Hickory Corner: What are the right golf balls to play

Updated: May 4, 2015

By Brian Giboney, Special to Inside Golf
Welcome back to The Hickory Corner where we explore hickory golf (golf with pre-1935 equipment). This month is the golf ball issue.

As you can imagine golf balls from the hickory era are now collectible items which reside in trophy cases, on mantles, and on executive’s desks around the world. So in order to emulate the game as it was played over 80 years ago, hickory golfers are now dependent on replica golf balls made by McIntyre Golf Company in Omaha.

McIntyre Golf offers five golf balls: The “Park” (Circa 1850-1905) is named after the 1860 British Open Champion Willie Park, Sr.; The “Braid” (Circa 1850-1905) is named after 5 Time British Open Champion James Braid; The “Vardon” (Circa 1898-1905) is named after 7 Time Major Winner Harry Vardon; The “Ouimet” (Circa 1905-1930) is named after the winner of the historic 1913 U.S. Open; and The “RTJ” (Circa 1908-1935) is named after the greatest hickory golfer of all time Robert Tyre Jones Jr. aka Bobby Jones.

All versions fly through the air much like they did in the era they represent if struck by a hickory club. They are durable as well. Prior to writing this article I ensured they could handle being smashed by my modern 460cc titanium driver & yes they passed that test too. However, at only 50-compression, they are clearly designed for hickory play and a golfer’s more smooth and flowing tempo.

Total golf ball production in 2014 for McIntyre Golf Company was 26,400 (2,200 dozen). As for the cost, the “Park” is $155.00 a dozen, the “Braid” $62.00 a dozen, the “Vardon” $150.00 a dozen, the “Ouimet” $45.00, and the “RTJ” $45.00. If you lost your breath while reading $155.00 and $150.00 per dozen on the “Park” and the “Vardon” the prices are not typos.

Those particular balls are gutta balls and require much more labor to produce. McIntyre Golf Company only produces 4-5 gutta balls an hour as it is a lengthy process. Personally, the “Ouimet” and the “RTJ” fit my budget and have been the 1-2 punch in my hickory journey so far, but if you have the means to venture into the ultra cool golf ball world of the “Park” and the “Vardon” – by all means as they are the Rolls Royce of the sport. If you are interested in acquiring a dozen McIntyre’s you can order them at www.mcintyregolf.com.

Upcoming hickory tournaments

Events put on by AP National Golf Club
• May 2: Meadow Park 3rd Annual Vintage Hickory Invitational (Centennial).
• May 24: Chambers Bay “The Open before The Open” Chambers Bay Hickory Open Championship sponsored by Michelob Ultra.
Events put on by NW Hickory Players Club
• May 9: Centennial Celebration at Jefferson Park
• May 11: Tacoma County and Golf Club
For a complete list of organized and casual outings for the year please check out their websites.

All events are open to the public and new players are welcome – club rental is available.