GOOD TO KNOW
Information and suppliers useful for your featherie game, plus hickory clubs available for purchase.
Honorable Company of Hickory Golf founders (left to right) Denny Lane, Tom Kerchove, and Jeff Browning playing at Arrowhead Country Club.
TIPS FOR THE FEATHERIE GAME
• The fun of the featherie game is not distance: instead, it is learning to play the roll of the land. Featherie golf is a strategic game played close to the ground.
• An ideal featherie course for a nine-hole game is around 1,100 yards or 127 yards per hole (typically, a par 3 course). If you can find a course with undulating greens, all the better. The ball plays better on longer grass.
• Avoid long carries over water. Featheries do float, but not for very long.
• Some balls show injury (but are still playable) after a few holes and some last nearly unscathed for 35 holes or longer. But no featherie will last forever.
• The featherie swing is very different from the gutta percha swing. It is meant to drive the ball low and make it run. It is a slow, rhythmic swing with a flatter arc.
• Clubs from the featherie era had thinner heads and whippier shafts, not at all suitable for gutta percha play. Putters of the featherie era had more loft to get the ball rolling on top of the grass of the shaggier greens.
• It doesn’t take long to study this era to understand how really skilled the players of that time were. They had the ability to think around a golf course rather than overpower it: the simple tools they had, just clubs and balls, simply did not allow a player to muscle through. As for distance, from the book The Clubmaker’s Art: Antique Golf Clubs and Their History (author Jeffery B. Ellis), two-time Open champion Harold Hilton said in 1890, 40 years after the gutta percha ball was introduced, “It is doubtful that the average golfer using featherie balls could drive much beyond 160 yards.” The average player today can get 90 to 110 yards with a featherie.
• K. Leonard Hickory Golf. Kelly Leonard makes gorgeous 19th -century long-nose clubs.
• Hickory Hacker. Hickory golf ambassador Christian Williams offers vlogs, advice, and insights on golf history.
• Hickory and Links: Andy Grow is a hickory golf player, golf history nut, and golf course architecture enthusiast.
• Elmer Nahum is the author of the Practical Clubmaking: A Guide to Long Nose Era Golf Clubmaking, an excellent how-to and golf history book.
The following organizations can provide excellent information and products that will further your enjoyment of the hickory game:
• Golf Heritage Society. Events, collecting, and excellent historical information. https://www.golfheritage.org/
• The Society of Golf Historians Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/722105418132700/, moderated by Connor Lewis, who also produces the excellent podcast, Talking Golf History (https://talkingolf.com/).
• Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG): A membership organization with an outstanding newsletter, calendar and website.
• Louisville Golf: Classic clubs, including hickories.
• McIntrye Golf: Period-correct golf balls for hickory play.
• Steurer Jacoby: American-made golf bags and accessories.