Equipment Guidelines – Gutty Era Events

Updated August 2015

The guidelines presented here represent a framework from which organizers of 19th century hickory, or gutty, golf events can follow or use to create their own equipment policies. These guidelines were drawn up with the knowledge of how most of the world played golf in the 19th century and the equipment they used. Except for replicas (see below), the clubs are to be manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 1900.

Long nose, semi-long nose, transitional and old style bulger shaped heads. Heads must be attached to shaft by splice or scare joint. The form of the club head should be more oblong than round in shape. The “compressed head” wood from the era is one exception.?

Short head with splice joint or any club head shafted in a socket should not be approved. The splice was used well into the 20th century and should not be used to date woods. This issue may be addressed by the tournament’s individual equipment committees and should be made clear as to what they allow and prohibit.

Irons must be smooth faced. Random hand punching still constitutes a non-smooth face and is out of compliance.?

Specific non-approved clubs – jigger, pitcher, sammy, spade mashie, sand wedge – are 20th century innovations. Clubs with those club names stamped on them should be considered non-conforming.

Note that Tom Stewart irons with the registration mark at the sole are 1904 and after. Most directors use that as the date cut-off on Stewart irons as long as they remain smooth faced.

Putting irons or cleeks: Maker/style to be contemporary with 19th century design and use.?Wood putters: any wood head putter of a long nose or semi-long nose shape (splice or heel-shafted socket). Modern replica type putters are allowed as per list of approved clubs.?

Any center shafted style putters are not approved for gutty play. Also note that Mills aluminum headed putters were not on the market until 1900 or 1901 and should not be allowed.

There is no regulation covering the size (diameter) of grips. Grips of non-uniform taper or grips built with a “reminder” ridge under the grip are permitted.

There were many types of grips in use – shaped wood (no gripping material), leather wraps, gauze type material, rubberized cloth, plain cloth wraps (like underlisting) as well as other tape-like materials. Almost any grip is to be allowed, except modern slip-on rubber grips, regardless of surface material.

All shafts are expected to be of wood. Modern wood shafts with a metal core or metal support are not approved.

Specific approved replica/reproduction clubs – see the list of approved clubs – are available for use. There may be other clubmakers who replicate gutty era clubs and event organizers are encouraged to embrace those clubs if they conform.

Balls allowed for pre-1900 events may be determined by individual event directors. There are replica guttys and other restricted flight balls available on the market and tournament directors may select from those balls or others of their choosing.

19th century competitions are encouraged to use sand tees on the teeing ground. Sand is readily available at most golf courses by prior arrangement. If this is impractical, an event organizer may permit use of manufactured tees at their discretion.

Carry bags were in use prior to 1900. Bags in general may be permitted, and should be, if at all possible, typical of the era. Event organizers may exercise discretion as to their use. Club carriers such as patented caddie stands from the 19th century and clasp-carriers may also be allowed.

There is no limit on the number of clubs any player is allowed to carry during competition.

Alteration of an original club where weight needs to be added or subtracted is permitted.

It is suggested that equipment be inspected in an approved manner before the event.

Important:  Tournament directors (or equipment committees) have the option of varying the guidelines to suit the needs of their event. All decisions should be at the director’s discretion or that of his/her respective committee. Any variations of existing guidelines should be provided to the players well in advance of the event to avoid mis-understandings.