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Joey Piatek on how to master the featherie swing

At the time of this writing, Joey Piatek is serving as vice president of the SOHG board; he also chairs the finance committee. He won the Michiana Hickory Open in 2021 and 2023. In 2022, he finished 2nd in the US Hickory Open.  


He is a member of the British Golf Collectors Society and was on the winning side in the 2023 Hickory Grail representing the USA v. Europe at Belvedere Golf Club in Charlevoix, MI. He hopes to help defend The Grail in Sweden in 2025.


He is also a member of the newly formed Historic Golf Mechanics Guild, which is a group of artisans who have an appreciation for historical golf trades. He describe himself as an apprentice 19th-century clubmaker with a focus on long-nosed spoons and putters.


In the following article, Joey explains how he found his way into historic golf and how he has become an enthusiastic feather ball-golfer.


“I got into hickory golf after reading about the origins of golf in the United States. Playing a round of golf with 100-year-old clubs on a course equally as old is as close as anyone can get to time-travel.  I have found playing historic golf, whether the modern ball or with hickory shafted clubs, the gutty ball, or the featherie, all help to make me a more well-rounded golfer.  Even though I play my 21st century clubs less than I ever have, I feel as good as a player as I’ve ever been.  


“Over the past few years, I have painstakingly repaired, adjusted, crafted, and selected clubs for the various eras of golf equipment that suit me and my swing.  Hickory golf opened a new world of discovery, experimentation, and fun.”


How to master the featherie swing

“First, featherie players should make sure their club is sufficiently upright and the shaft is long enough. A club that is too short or flat will result into the toe hitting the ground and twisting the face open at impact.

“Regarding the swing, I’ve gotten the most success from these small adjustments to my 'regular' swing:

“I set up with a wider stance and position the ball a little forward. This promotes more of a sweeping swing and helps me to hit less down on the ball. The goal is to not take much of a divot, if at all. This will also help prevent swinging underneath the ball when it’s propped up on longer grass or a tee. Also it increases the height of the shot and reduces backspin, so the ball lands a little livelier and gets some roll.

“I like to start the backswing by feeling the weight of the head as it goes back; it helps to promote the correct rhythm.  The rhythm should be a little slower but still with purpose. I always want to feel my swing flow naturally and never want to feel like I’m steering the swing.

“On the backswing, I keep my hands no higher than shoulder height at their highest point. Or for those that have the proper attire, wear a traditional jacket and your hands will naturally only be able to swing as far back as shoulder height. Also the transition from backswing to downswing should be smooth and not jerky. The feeling should be like you’re gradually gathering power for the strike. Featherie players should avoid a long upright backswing (hands above the head) and a violent transition because it will cause the shaft to flex and torque too much, putting strain on the club and making it hard to control on the downswing. Swinging with a slightly shorter backswing allows me to use my normal grip without worrying that the face is open.

“The follow-through should be balanced and natural like any golf swing.” 



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