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Bought a persimmon driver ... what to expect ?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

I know, I know ... but I'm sentimental at heart.      I've only been playing less than a year, so I never played with the old equipment.   I want to hear the crack & feel the feedback of real wood & get a first hand appreciation for the skill it took the all time greats to hit that little sweet spot compared to the shoebox on a stick drivers we use today.        There are guys who refinish the old persimmon clubs on ebay & the one I got cost practically nothing (it's probably from the 70's - with a steel shaft) - it's beautiful - almost too nice to hit.       It's basically just an experiment ... but I can't wait to try it out.     So, to those that played back when a wood was actually a wood - tell me what to expect.     Thx...

 

PS - I'm also curious as to the history of it all ... when did the metal woods come into favor - was it the 70's or 80's ?     Was wondering if during the transition from persimmon to metal woods, was it a mass exodus & everybody started to play metal woods at about the same time, or was it a split - maybe some of the top guys would'nt give up their persimmon & were still competitive ?      Imagine the ball technology must have had to change to some degree when metal woods came onto the scene ?        Sorry for all the questions, but the history of it all is interesting stuff & imagine the transition from wood to metal was likely one of the most drastic changes in the game in the past 100 years (maybe second only to the change from hickory to steel shafts way back in the day, or the evolution of the modern ball from the old balata balls) ...


Edited by inthehole - 7/12/11 at 12:36pm
post #2 of 32

Persimmon woods feel like butter. I dink around with my dads old one from time-to-time and it's the softest feel you'll ever get from a "wood". Distance will be much less, obviously, but they're really fun to play around with.

post #3 of 32

I picked up a Louisville Golf Classic 50's driver on ebay earlier this year.  It has a 43" shaft and with the small head it feels like swinging a modern 3 wood.  It does feel really, really nice when you hit one on the screws.  I've actually played a couple rounds with it, and surprisingly, my scores didn't suffer.  I think an even bigger surprise is that the distance difference between the persimmon and a modern driver is not as big as you'd expect.  I brought it with me for a couple rounds last week and hit a few after I hit a drive with my 907D1 for comparison.  The first time I pulled it out I actually beat out my 907D1 drive!  The main difference is forgiveness, got to hit it dead solid perfect to get those kind of results, so on average it's definitely shorter than a modern driver.

post #4 of 32

I have a few persimmons. My favorites of my modest collection are my Joe Powells.  Nothing sweeter than a pured persimmon, but they are less forgiving on distance.  No so much less forgiving on direction because of the gear effect of the bulge and roll on the face.  Try some noodles or Bridgestone e-5's.

post #5 of 32

I've hit the e5 with persimmon, and it works well, but it's still a higher compression ball.  Try some Wilson Staff Fifty Elites to get close to that super soft balata feeling.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbuck View Post

I have a few persimmons. My favorites of my modest collection are my Joe Powells.  Nothing sweeter than a pured persimmon, but they are less forgiving on distance.  No so much less forgiving on direction because of the gear effect of the bulge and roll on the face.  Try some noodles or Bridgestone e-5's.



 

post #6 of 32

i hit my vintage 80's Orlimar laminated maple 305 yards this year and have a moderately large collection of persimmons that i take out every once in a while.  nice to know they still work. 

 

btw-  the Guinness world record long drive during a PGA sanctioned event still stands at 515 yards.  65 year old Mike Austin (RIP) with an 11*, 43.5", steel shafted persimmon driver.

post #7 of 32

A persimmon driver isnt going to have the same kind of pop at impact that a modern metalwood has.  I used to have an old Ram 3-wood and its one of the best 3-wood I ever owned.  I found it very easy to hit well and the sound and feel of a solid strike was just awesome.

I kind of wish that the USGA would roll back technology and move the game back to woods actually being made of wood.  Sure, I would miss the distance but there is something special about woods actually being made of wood.

post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by tweaky View Post 

 

btw-  the Guinness world record long drive during a PGA sanctioned event still stands at 515 yards.  65 year old Mike Austin (RIP) with an 11*, 43.5", steel shafted persimmon driver.



Holy shit!

post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitleistWI View Post

A persimmon driver isnt going to have the same kind of pop at impact that a modern metalwood has.  I used to have an old Ram 3-wood and its one of the best 3-wood I ever owned.  I found it very easy to hit well and the sound and feel of a solid strike was just awesome.

I kind of wish that the USGA would roll back technology and move the game back to woods actually being made of wood.  Sure, I would miss the distance but there is something special about woods actually being made of wood.



I started getting serious about golf while playing Ram woods. Laminated maple Accubars. I got every last ounce out of them (completely mashed when they were done) and never really did find proper replacements in the metal woods of the day. I stuck with wood, but by then persimmon was on the way out (pretty much gone actually) so there were used ones all over. I picked up a few solid ones and had them refinished. Last year I picked up a 12 driver lot from ebay for < $20 and a few were stellar (MacGregor VIP, an Eye-o-matic, two Cleveland Classics, and a Lynx).

 

Anyway, if I'd never hit a wooden wood and spied a persimmon driver in good shape (solid face, no cracks in the hosel, doesn't need to be re-wrapped) I'd probably walk right on by. Now I always stop and consider it - usually there's enough of a flaw in it somewhere to take a pass.

 

BTW - low compression and "feel" balls are great for wood. Wilson Staff makes a few good ones. Stay away from the FG Tour though - your slight fades and draws will turn into 90 degree turns!!

post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post

 

 

PS - I'm also curious as to the history of it all ... when did the metal woods come into favor - was it the 70's or 80's ?     Was wondering if during the transition from persimmon to metal woods, was it a mass exodus & everybody started to play metal woods at about the same time, or was it a split - maybe some of the top guys would'nt give up their persimmon & were still competitive ?     .

I happen to belong to a course that was built by Elmore Just the founder of Louisville Golf.  Elmore passed away a few years ago and now the company is run by his brother Mike.  They still make and sell persimmon woods, wood putters too.   Anyway Elmore wrote a short book about the history of persimmon woods.  Elmore  was a fascinating character and I think you might enjoy the book.  If you are interested send me a PM and I will see if I can get you a copy.

 

Elmore worked for Hillerich and Bradsby (PowerBilt golf clubs and Louisville Slugger bats) making persimmon woods in the 60's.  The company decided to get out of the golf club manufacturing business and that is when Elmore founded Louisville Golf.  They picked up many of H&B's accounts and made custom woods for private golf courses around the world. I believe they also ended up making all of MacGregor's woods until the market finally dried up in the mid to late 80's.
 

 

post #11 of 32

In the hole,

 

You are not alone, there are more of us out here than you might expect. I dropped golf for a number of years only to come back to all the Grapefruit sized hollow shells of Titanium and decided they weren't for me and how I wanted to play the game.

I purchased a "Classic Fifties" Persimmon driver from Louisville Golf. It has 11 degrees of loft and a steel shaft at 43.5 (they let you choose your shaft type and length)

I've been using it as my main driver here in CT for the past two years.

What to expect? Excellent results with a good swing. A poor swing, or slap at the ball will give you what you deserve...(gee, isn't that what a sport of skill should be all about?) I am positive that I've learned more about my swing using this driver than I ever would have using the drivers they have on the racks today.

 

Let me just state this:

It's not the Grapefruit sized hollow shell of Titanium that is making the new drivers hit so long. It's mostly the shaft material and length.

Now, in the past adding extra inches to your shaft led to 2 trade-offs.

1) For every inch you added to shaft length you were going to have more distance but more difficulty in keeping your drives straight.

2) For every inch you added to shaft length you were going to get more distance, but only at the increased difficulty of finding the sweet spot on the insert, or finding the insert at all !!!    And the great pros and amateurs of the past knew that the quality of the strike was really what mattered most. 

 

Trade-off number 1 still applies and is the reason that many of the new drivers with their (44,45,46 inch?) long shafts are hitting the ball very far but crooked.

Trade-off number 2, in my opinion, has been largely erased. The added skill in striking the ball with a longer shaft is no longer necessary because the huge shell of Titanium is going to find the ball. I just don't find that to be in the spirit of the game...

 

It's great that the new drivers are keeping a lot of people happy and in the game, but I just wish they would understand the facts above before they start berating me on my equipment choice. (especially when I'm consistently beating them)

 

Kudos to you In the hole. Play the game and club that you want to play, not the game or club someone else wants you to play.

 

Most of the courses I play were designed 20 to 100 years ago. You get the feeling that your coming closer to playing the courses as they were designed to be played.

 

But on those days when your not swinging well and all of your clubs just can't seem to hit the ball, you're going to hear..."Why are you playing that old out-dated thing?... Why don't you take advantage of new technology???"

 

Get used to it !!!

 

Louisvillegolf.com has some very interesting articles to read. Check them out...

 

And while you're at it, read "The Greatest Game ever played" and "The Match" both by Mark Frost.

Very, very soulful books.

 

Keep at it,

 

Nutmeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by NutmegGolfer - 8/13/11 at 6:35am
post #12 of 32

Seeing that we are in a thread which is discussing persimmon woods I will make the following info available.

 

Here is an article written by John Gordon of the National Post which quotes the recently deceased president of Louisville Golf, Elmore Just.

 

http://www.louisvillegolf.com/library_article.php?article=NzI0c3VwZXI3MjFzZWNyZXQ3Mjg%3D

 

Here is an excerpt from an article written about the somewhat? talented golfer who goes by the name...Tiger Woods. The article appeared in Golf Digest and was titled "The Year of Living Dangerously."

 

Most important to his longevity, Woods continues to have fun with a game he has never stopped loving. He seeks practice rounds with Bubba Watson, who entertains Woods with his freakish power and loose-jointed grace. Woods hits a bevy of persimmon-head drivers and fairway woods on the range at Isleworth, saying he loves the sound and feel and the smaller margin for error. "If I ruled golf? We'd be playing persimmon and balata," he says.

 

Nutmeg

 

 

post #13 of 32

Love your post and a nod to being a golf club ho (LOL).   Try a set of Louise Sluggs Macgregor Eye O Matics from the 1950s.   Probably the best wood clubs ever made for a woman.   Two, metal woods are not longer than persimmon woods.   Using the same shaft the metal wood will go just as far as a persimmon.   Three, a high quality persimmon (like early 1950 Macgregors) will go short and low when hit (swung) poorly while a metal wood will fly like a kite when missed hit.  So naturally a metal wood will go farther when missed hit.   Yes I have to say metal woods are more forgiving if you swing like an old man or have a swing speed of a 65 year old country club woman.   Four, your swing will get lazy over time with a metal wood, persimmon clubs force you to swing properly.  There is some penalty for poor swings.   Five, take a sleeve of Pinnacles and hit them with your metal wood.   Then take a Pro V1 out and hit it with that same metal wood.   That will give you some sense of the difference between a metal wood and a persimmon.   Metals wood came into favor around 1988.   I remember playing golf with David Scheryer who just before the end of the season practiced with a Mizuno metal wood.  First time I saw one if I remember correctly.   Kudos to all the woman golfers under 30 out there.    PS I would estimate it would cost $200 to make the head for one Persimmon driver while it cost probably $4 to make a metal wood.   Big Business will force Pros to play metal woods and everyone else will follow.   

post #14 of 32

Persimmons are great when you hit it on the screws but they arent very forgiving.  You cant expect a solid wood clubhead to be as forgiving as a hollow metal clubhead with perimeter weighting.

post #15 of 32

Testing the Performance of Drivers of Different Eras

by Chris Mile, President of Miles of Golf on January 15, 2010

http://www.milesofgolf.com/blog/golf-clubs/vintage-vs-technology/

 

Do current drivers perform better than hickories from the 1920s? How much better? How about early steel shafted clubs from the 1930s, or drivers from the 1950-60s, or the early metal drivers? This was the impetus for a test we conducted in the Miles of Golf Cluboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan using a TrackMan ball flight monitor.

The results are not surprising, current clubs do perform better. We have measurements of distance and accuracy for seven (7) different drivers that span the years from 1920 to the present. The details of testing along with a video are very interesting and follow:

The Testing Process.

Club Fitter.

Brent Norton conducted the test. Brent manages the Miles of Golf Cluboratory and is recognized as one of the very best club-fitters in the country. Major club manufacturers like Titleist, Cobra and Callaway send prototype clubs to Brent for his evaluation.

Club Testers.

In the video, we had two players test each club. One player, Doug Davis, has an outstanding amateur record, is a former captain of the University of Michigan Golf Team and an all Big-Ten player. Doug is one of the owners of Miles of Golf. Doug is not a long hitter.
The other tester was Scott Hayes. Scott competes professionally and also teaches at the Kendall Academy located at Miles of Golf. Scott is also a past captain of the University of Michigan Golf Team. Scott’s ball striking numbers are comparable to a PGA Tour player.
We gathered data from 4 additional players making the total number we tested six. All players were consistant ball strickers with club-head speeds ranging from the 80 to 110 mph.

Test Clubs.

The clubs tested were supplied by Gene Bolden. Gene has a huge collection of clubs and is one of the most knowledgeable collectors in the country. Gene is the ex-basketball coach of Div I Oakland University. During the shooting of the video, Gene adds interesting and colorful information on the vintage clubs.

1. MacGregor persimmon head and hickory shaft from 1923.
2. Schavolite Composite head with an early steel shaft from the 1930s.
3. MacGregor Tourney persimmon head with True Temper Tour shaft from 1949.
4. Cleveland Classic (MacGregor M85 copy)persimmon head with Dynamic Gold shaft from the 1970-80s.
5. Taylor Made Burner Plus 9.5 with a stainless steel head and Dynamic Golf shaft from the 1980s
6. Taylor Made R9 9.5 with a Titanium head and stock graphite shaft, a current 2009 club.
7. The driver the player currently plays. These were 2009 drivers fit to the player.

After warming up to get a feel for each club, players hit 6 balls with each club. The same procedure was followed with all 7 drivers. The ball used was the Titleist Pro V1. The monitor used was the TrackMan, considered the most accurate in the industry. It is a Doppler radar device used by every club manufacturer to test and develop new clubs.

Test Results.

How do clubs of different eras compare when we measure the distance and accuracy of each?

Distance. Comparison of total distance to include carry distance plus rollout.

1. From the hickories in the 1920s to titanium drivers of 2009, there was an average increase of total distance of 26%. For the testers, the smallest increase was 37 yards and the biggest was 73 yards.
2. Each era showed increases in distance with one exception. The early stainless steel drivers of the 1980s did not show increased distance over persimmon clubs of the 1970 and 80s.
3. The greatest improvement from one era to the next came with the titanium drivers. Roughly one-half the increase in distance (13%) took place between the late persimmon / early stainless steel drivers of the 1980s and the current titanium.
4. Higher club-head speed players had a greater PERCENTAGE increase in distance. Slower swingers had low 20% range increases while faster swingers had increases in the low 30% range.
5. Launch angles remained relatively constant.
6. Spin numbers decreased substantially, approximately 41%. This is a major factor in increased performance of new drivers.
7. Club-head speed increased 5%.
8. Ball speed increased 12%.
9. Efficiency, or the ratio of club-head speed to ball speed, increased 6%.
10. There was noticeable improvement in distance with the club fitted for the player over just a random 2009 titanium driver.

Accuracy. Comparison of the right and left dispersion of shots from the intended target.

1.From the hickories in the 1920s to titanium drivers of 2009, the accuracy improved 34%. This was computed by measuring the standard deviation of shots hit with each driver.
2.There were no great improvements in accuracy from 1940-1990. About two-thirds of the total improvement came with the current titanium drivers.
3.There was noticeable improvement in accuracy with the club fitted for the player over just a random 2009 titanium driver. Drivers fit for a player improved accuracy more than distance.

Summary.

Both distance and accuracy of drivers has improved with each successive era with the exception of the distance of early stainless steel drivers. Drivers from the 1920s to 2009 saw distance improved 26% and accuracy 34%. The major advances in both distance and accuracy took place with the introduction of titanium drivers.

Download Miles of Golf Vintage Test Results

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post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbsmith View Post

Persimmon woods feel like butter. I dink around with my dads old one from time-to-time and it's the softest feel you'll ever get from a "wood". Distance will be much less, obviously, but they're really fun to play around with.

 

Good description.  I was never able to afford a good persimmon in the day.  They were a softer feel when you'd hit the sweet spot as compared to the laminated woods which were all the rest.

 

As for distance.  I was playing a set of Wilson 1300's in the day.  I self taught myself Jacks swing which appeared in Golf Digest in the early 80's.  I was easily getting out around 275 - 280 and with a trailing breeze and if I got really cranked around, I drove to the fringe on a couple of 320 yd par 4's.  

 

Obviously tee the ball lower.  You might want to choke down about a 1/2" for control until you get used to trying to make contact with that tiny sweet spot.  

 

BTW, I quit playing the game back in about 1984 or so.  I think metal woods had just come out.  They were something of a gimmick at first,  they were supposedly marginally better than real woods and only marginally.  I never tried one.   

post #17 of 32

Nothing beats the feel of a solid wood head vs: a hollow metal head. Hit a persimmon wood "on the screws" and it feels like you really put something into the ball. The persimmon woods were just about 100% hand-made in the USA, unlike the beer cans they punch out and paint in China. The big 460cc head of today's drivers allow you to take a swing that you wouldn't attempt with the classic persimmon woods.

post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Robert View Post

Both distance and accuracy of drivers has improved with each successive era with the exception of the distance of early stainless steel drivers. Drivers from the 1920s to 2009 saw distance improved 26% and accuracy 34%. The major advances in both distance and accuracy took place with the introduction of titanium drivers.

 

The Miles Golf test is interesting. However, there is a huge apples to oranges effect going on here. While not noted in the video, I suspect the modern clubs have longer shafts compared to the older clubs. As hinted at, the shaft material can be a huge factor in performance. Another thing hinted at but perhaps unclear to the the test's authors, the traditional persimmon head has several degrees more loft than modern clubheads. Part of this is the altering of the center of gravity on the large modern heads which result in the ball coming off the clubface at a higher trajectory. Hence to maintain optimum launch angle, modern clubheads have less loft, and this in turn produces less spin. This often translates into more run even though you might have identical trajectories (old club vs. new) and therefore more distance. While there remains tremendous hype about the material of modern clubheads, one could argue, the real technology has been in shaft. What would have been a good step further in the comparison is to put a modern shaft in some of those old persimmons and put an old shaft is some of those new clubhead and see if the numbers get any closer.

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