How much worse will the score be and beaten with a hickory club?

A hickory club is obviously less forgiving than perimeter-weighted modern clubs (often called toe-half cubes, they have a larger hitting surface, with more weight on the edges around the club head, which makes the club easier to play, and the stroke of a miss on the toe-half part is straighter and longer). In other words, when you don't hit clinically in the sweet-spot (hit in the middle of the club face), the bad shots are less bad with a perimeter forgiving and modern club, than with an old hickory club.

If you get a bad hit with a hickory club, the shot will be worse, but the score does not have to be worse. A bad hit on the toe or heel with a perimeter-weighted modern club will give the ball at least the same length as a clinical hit with a hickory club, due to the energy of the club head and its torsionally stiff shaft.

In other words, a bad hit with a modern perimeter club may send the ball into the woods, but the same bad hit with a hickory club, only reaches the semi-hollow and the ball is therefore playable. So just because you have modern weapons, it doesn't necessarily mean the score is better. Instead, you have to pay the price for, for example, pulling on the dribbler and then not finding your ball.

We do not hit as far with our antique clubs, about 15-20% shorter depending on the club and the misses are therefore usually within the margin of error, also partly because we learned early to play strategically and keep the ball in play, ie we stay as a rule on the court and can thus still get an acceptable score. As a single hcp player, in terms of results (depending of course on the layout of the course), you generally don't lose that much, maybe 4-7 strokes per round. And to compensate for this, we usually play from the blue tee and at our regular hcp. So we often have the same results from the blue tee, as if we were playing with modern clubs from the yellow tee.

Adjustment of the exact handicap to the hickory handicap at the hickory club competitions.

There are currently different hcp systems at different competitions, so check the invitation to see which hcp system applies. From 2015 onwards, the BGCS handicap system is often used for individual competitions. Players' handicaps are rounded to whole numbers and played without slope.

- Professionals - no shots added, play off Scr.

  • Add 3 shots for scratch to 3 h'cap
  • Add 4 shots for 4-8 h'cap
  • Add 5 shots for 9-14 h'cap
  • Add 6 shots for 15-20 h'cap
  • Add 7 shots for 21h'cap and upwards

Nowadays the following system is also used as specified by the Golf Historical Society:

A player's handicap is obtained by multiplying the player's exact handicap by 1.4 and rounding the product to the nearest whole number (if the product is exactly x.50, round up to x+1).

Exact HCP 12.5 x 1.4 = 17.50 -> Game HCP 18
Exact HCP 12.4 x 1.4 = 17.36 -> GameHCP 17

Professional golfers and players with a plus handicap always play scratch. The above applies to all handicap competitions played with hickory clubs only and organised by the Swedish Golf Historical Society in 2020.

In competitions where both modern and hickory clubs are played, hickory players receive an additional 2 strokes on top of the above calculation.

Playing with hickory-shafted clubs, as in any sport, requires practice and practice if you want to improve your golf. Unfortunately, companies marketing modern clubs like to pretend that the playing characteristics are in the club head or shaft itself, so if you "just" buy new, your strokes and game will improve automatically and magically, without any training. But as always, it takes strategy, practice and more practice to become a good golfer, whether playing with modern clubs or hickory-style ones.

Besides, what does the score really matter when you play match play instead, preferably foursome. Good company, match play and fellowship mean so much more!

Image copyright © Hickory & Linksland