Q & A regarding approved pre-1935 hickory clubs for SoHG play:
How do I know if I have a retrofitted wood in my play set?
Woods that have been retrofitted from steel shafts to hickory shafts often have a small screw hole, near the back of the head on the hosel. And the neck or hosels are often narrower than comparable original hickory clubs. Also, many of the clubs retrofitted for play bear the retrofitters mark or name on the shaft that they have installed.
How do I know that the retrofitted wood in my play set is pre-1935 and approved for play?
Many wooden head clubs have a patent or manufacture date stamped into their sole plates, or in the wood itself. There are also collector catalogs for Wilson, Spalding, Wright & Ditson, etc., that show wooden head clubs that were offered in both steel and hickory shafts prior to 1935, that can be used as a reference. Also, the person who sold you the club or did the retrofitting should have a keen awareness of its date of origin based upon his familiarity of clubs and his expertise.
What happens if the retrofitted club I have in my play set cannot be identified by a catalog and the person I purchased it from does not know its date of origin, will I be able to play with this club?
The decision will probably come down to the SoHG Equipment Committee and/or the local tournament director and we suggest you seek advice prior to play. Just send pictures of your club head showing the make, model, club head design to the SoHG Equipment Committee, if you have a questions. Regarding the clubs, you will need to determine an answer to the following two questions: 1) Does the club head have the physical characteristics of pre-1935 clubs that you see in other play sets of other players? Or, 2), does the club head have more unique characteristics of a post-1935 or modern club? If the answer is the latter, you probably will not be able to play in the tournament with that club.
I have an Otey Crisman putter with a hickory shaft, can I use this for approved play?
Otey Crisman III shared the following historical information: No Otey Crisman putters were manufactured prior to 1935 and none of the models were designed to replicate earlier pre-1935 putters. As a result, no Otey Crisman putters are allowed for play. They are nice putters, and some people collect them, but they will not be allowed for SoHG-sanctioned tournament play.
What about other putters that have been reproduced to replicate pre-1935 putters, such as the Spalding Chicapee or the Calamity Jane?
If the reproduced putter is modeled after a hickory putter made pre-1935 and the person playing the replica putter submits it for review, it most likely will be approved for play under our reproduction guidelines.
Can hickory shafted putters be long-shafted? Are these approved for play?
The SoHG will make no rule governing the use of a long or “belly” putter for play in “modern” hickory play. As there is no rule forbidding the use of long putters today and there is evidence of the use of long-shafted putters in the past, with and without an anchor point, the SoHG feels there is no need to make a rule or guideline about the use of such a club. The heads of submitted long putters should, of course, meet the SoHG guidelines on shape and size. This guideline does not apply to gutty era play, also known as pre-1900 play, where such a club is not allowed.
If you have questions about hickory clubs for approved hickory play, please feel welcome to submit your questions, to the Society of Hickory Golf Equipment Committee or email your questions to: Rob Ahlschwede