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I'm fairly new to vintage clubs.... kinda. My first set was a beat up blob of irons, mainly comprised of 4 Sam Snead Blue Ridge (I believe), with aluminum shafts and that now illegal grip with the flat spot built in for the left hand. Last year, I found a set of 1980 Hogan Directors and 3 Titleist Tour Model persimmons. All were in surprisingly terrific shape. A few months went by and I took them on the range very briefly for the last 5 balls of the bucket. Then a few months back, I used the 7 iron and the 5 wood a few times. Recently, I posted a video on YouTube, with what I THINK is the first modern day black and white video using vintage clubs. I had the most fun in years and the resulting score wasn't bad for me, a 40 for 9. The woods were fantastic, the irons weren't bad, and the sand wedge was awesome. Now, I think I will be playing vintage clubs far more than my moderns. The question is..... How in the hell do you go about knowing what will be the best for you, when you're not in a shop or on a range testing them, likely because you're buying from eBay? Hogan's are always forged and a safe bet. I don't prefer a very sharp leading edge and I usually measure for a stiff flex. I don't have unlimited amounts of money, and I don't want to have an entire garage full of old clubs, but I wouldn't mind hearing your TOP 3 of all time. Based on feel, feedback, performance, and maybe some consideration as to how rare they are. Not holy grail level, but something fairly uncommon. Thanks in advance!

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I'm a big fan of the Blue Ridges. I still have the illegal helper grips but don't post to and hdcp calculator with them. They are dirt cheap, forged, and I think they look great. Far from rare but perfect for metal shaft persimmon era. My buddy is a big fan of the Macgregor stuff as we are from Dayton and the history is rich here. Glad another person is getting into the vintage game. Cheers!

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You have to get an old brown leather Burton staff bag. I'm curious as to how well the forged irons are as far as the groves being worn out. I suppose you could get them re-grooved professionally?

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50 minutes ago, Bonvivant said:

I'm a big fan of the Blue Ridges. I still have the illegal helper grips but don't post to and hdcp calculator with them. They are dirt cheap, forged, and I think they look great. Far from rare but perfect for metal shaft persimmon era. My buddy is a big fan of the Macgregor stuff as we are from Dayton and the history is rich here. Glad another person is getting into the vintage game. Cheers!

I don't know that I'm to the point where I'll sell my moderns, but I can see a point in the near future where I do. I don't want to be a cliche, but there is just something about the old gear and the days before Trackman.

42 minutes ago, snapfade said:

You have to get an old brown leather Burton staff bag. I'm curious as to how well the forged irons are as far as the groves being worn out. I suppose you could get them re-grooved professionally?

Haha! I just bought a leather bag in great shape for 10 bucks for my current vintage set, and just bought 2 more sets of irons. Not the oldest of clubs, but a set of the Cobra mild steel blades and a set of what I think is the first line of Maxfli Australian Blades. Looking at a set of Hogan Speed Slot woods next.

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Just now, snapfade said:

You have to get an old brown leather Burton staff bag. I'm curious as to how well the forged irons are as far as the groves being worn out. I suppose you could get them re-grooved professionally?

A lot of the sets that my buddy finds are in near perfect condition at a rummage place where they sell by the pound. He picks up iron sets for like 7-10 bucks on the regular, and many look like the faces haven't been touched. Just have to know where to look.

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Where do you place the cut-off date?  I've got some clubs older than I am that I would not consider vintage...they are just old.

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1 hour ago, Piz said:

Where do you place the cut-off date?  I've got some clubs older than I am that I would not consider vintage...they are just old.

IMO there are 5 golf eras that are fairly easily definable.

This link describes the difference between the first 3 eras in regards to ball 

92192cde-d3c5-471f-966f-f117397e2315.jpg

The golf ball that would change the game of golf and closely resemble a ball that we play today was invented in 1899 by Coburn Haskell, an avid golfer, and Bertram G. Work, an employee of the B.F. Goodrich Company in...

 

Featherie era: which really isn't a viable option for vintage play unless you are making your own balls/risking old clubs or making replica clubs. Clubs are different and the long-nose is still in play. Balls are made from soaked feathers and cowhide. As the ball dries, the feathers expand and leather contracts to create a relatively hard ball. The National Hickory Championship is actually adding this to their tournament list this year.

Guttie era:  Pre-1900, with grooveless irons and gutta percha balls.

1900-1935: Haskell era, balls improve and irons get grooves, but shafts are still made from hickory.

Modern vintage era (what the OP seems to be doing): Steel shafts are introduced but persimmon remains and irons retain their blade shape. Balls improve throughout this era.

Modern era: Cavity back irons are introduced, metal heads become standard for woods, balls improve continuously.

Edited by Bonvivant
addition to featherie section and link

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8 hours ago, Piz said:

Where do you place the cut-off date?  I've got some clubs older than I am that I would not consider vintage...they are just old.

That's a good question. I guess it's different for everybody. I'm new to the "playing vintage golf" thing, so I can only speak for me. But I'm drawn to the 70's and 80's. It's just a coincidence that I was kid then, because I didn't start playing golf until the mid 90's. I think it's because a lot of the clubs prior to then had a tendency to be built with sharp, square leading edges. That doesn't suit my brain. That said, I can find clubs I would love to get my hands on in all eras. 

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Best vintage irons:

1) Macgregor VIP irons. I like the Muirfield 20th irons but the 60s VIPs are sweet.

2) Hogan Apex irons from the late 80s, I actually know someone who still games these.

3) Mizuno MS-5 irons.

 

Best vintage woods:

1) MacGregor Eye-O-Matic M85. Maybe the best Persimmon Driver of all time.

2) Wood Bros. Texan Driver

3) Wilson Staff any of the 60s thru 80s models.

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