Playing Persimmon and Winning in the Titanium Age..

I know a few of the ABSers here have gathered up enough courage to take the persimmon and blades out into competitions around the globe. I would like this thread as a place to discuss what we go through and feel from comments in the parking lot to driving off the 18th tee. The hecklers, the peer pressure, the frustration… but also some of the amazing success stories that have come along.

When you go out with 50 plus year old gear… which most view as either silly, insane or just foolishly archaic… and you walk off the course to pick up your trophy or pro shop gift certificate… you have done something very special.

This is all about the golf course… and matching up the best gear for the layout. Most of us who watch some PGA Tour golf see very long courses with the guys hitting the ball all over the place but not suffering much in the way of consequences. Short irons into greens from light rough etc…

But a lot of us don’t play these kinds of courses. I don’t. I play courses where one HAS TO drive it straight. Where one HAS TO work and shape the ball around corners and into a specific pocket in the fairway. Playing into the wind I don’t want to balloon the ball in accordance with what some launch monitor is suggesting for maximum effective carry. I might choose to hit it high… but low is much easier to control… and certainly gets on the ground quicker in the event you do send one left.

I was inspired today getting an email from an advancing ABS student who nearly shot his age in competition, winning his age division and finishing second overall.

Congrats Pavel!

Let me disclaim that English is not Pavel’s native language, but he is willing to share some of his thoughts on playing persimmon in the titanium age.

Let’s encourage others here to chip in and share their stories… whether it be competition… or just raising eyebrows late in the day when joining up with another group to play the last few holes into the clubhouse.

I’ll Weigh In !

Shot 81 fron the blues yesterday, close to my PB (thats was a 79 2 months back)… since joining ABS last year around this time.
I am playing to a 12 hdcp…
No new tech gear in the bag when I play… Louisville persimmon driver and Wilson Staff 4300 Perisimmon 3 wood, and Mizuno Mp 14’s,
The iron set I play varies depending what mood I am in, but they are all blades.
Scored that with 2 balls lost in Lateral Hazards and three > 3- putts !
Track is a 70’s construction layout not particularly long (6850 yds par 72 slope 124) but any errant drives end up in the trees and my group lost lost its share
of balls in the rough. Of course the comments flowed, “seriously those are persimmons, I gave mine away years ago… or " what are your trying to prove playing with that stuff,’” etc .etc. ad naseum… These comments do nothing but strengthen my resolve to become more skilled at playing the game with implements that require
the requisite skill. The reward to me personally is immensely satisfying and I do not plan on looking back.
I definietly count this as a win for me !


I’ve had nothing but positive reactions honestly, because I learned long ago not to care what others think… I played this morning on an old Donald Ross design, 6500 yards, not one hole isn’t surrounded by huge trees and beautiful strategic bunkering… 2nd hole 550 par 5, Driver/2wood (thanx Lag) on the green , two putt bird… This course is very penal especially for talented frying pan swingers… 60 dollar pay day from bets and of course I bought them beers after with the money I won… :slight_smile: 1 bogey, 3 birds for 68… A guy was hooking his ping fitted upright irons left of the world, I said try this iron, straightened him right out… Long discussion at the bar about hitting vs. swinging and discussing equipment… Honestly, it gives me more joy helping others than it does playing. I’ve gotten to know the head pro, and doesn’t mind that I use hybrid metal spikes either…

Better bring it here… My home course…

While I still get “advice” to play modern blades, I have shut everyone up regarding persimmon. Played two weeks ago with a 31 year old who played four years at North Texas, a divison one program. I out drove him on four of the 14 driving holes. We were within five yards of each other most other times. He got me by ten or more twice.

Last weekend I put a drive on a short tight par four (322) into the front bunker into a bit of a breeze. Persimmon is not a liability.

nfbandon, I think with your skill level nobody would have the guts to diss your ball striking with a persimmon or any club. I think most who have the courage to use it are probably close to a single digit hcp.
I carry a persimmon, but only use it on holes with no hazard. A good hit between my 975d and persimmon goes same distance for me. Some guys think my 975d is a 3w :laughing: and heads turn at the crack of persimmon, I just hope it goes straight to do some justice in taking it out.
My weakness is always driver, I will use it more when I can get some range time with it.

Having now spent a considerable amount of time playing persimmon, I have a different take on using persimmon clubs in competition: don’t do it! My advice: Play persimmons in the morning. Play them in the evening. Practice with them. Use them for casual play. Play them with friends who use them. Play them any time you are challenging yourself against the golf course, its designer, and old man par.

But in any tournaments (or significant money games) of significant value where you are playing against competition that is of equivalent or better skill level, you are no longer playing just the course - you are playing your opponents and trying to get your name up the leader board. You can’t have it both ways and say that persimmon is a greater challenge but then say that persimmon actually gives you the best chance to win. If you are making the argument that you are playing a short, tight track: why wouldn’t you just set up a metal 3 wood a bit heavier than normal and play that off the tee? I think Bradley has the right equation: practice with persimmon - learn it and love it and enjoy it, but when it comes to testing yourself at the highest level you are capable of: use the tools that give you the best chance to get up the leaderboard. Why isn’t Bradley using persimmon on tour?

The few guys I see posting here: Lag, apples, grady… are you really playing against appropriate competition? You all have amazing swings and they were damn good even before you started ABS. Pro-level swings. The top 0.5% of all golfers. I can see how you would advocate persimmon in competition because against most competitors you will be way better out of the gate so you can afford to run at a disadvantage. Not so for most of us. I think it is not the right message to the median golfer to use persimmon in competition - at minimum it is a10% distance loss. Saying you are not playing at a disadvantage is disingenuous and contradictory to the valid points that golf is taking too long, classic courses are becomming obsolete, etc. If you are just an advocate trying to make a statement: I guess that’s another story. I play to win, even though the highest level I will ever play in is the city championship scratch flight.

Again - I love persimmon and play it at least 50% of the time. There is nothing better to me than a warm evening after work cracking a persimmon around a bending dogleg. I enjoy playing against the challenges the course designer intended for me and playing against proper par. But until there is a more reliable infrastructure for persimmon vs. persimmon competition I will use a modern driver set up a bit heavier and flatter - there are people on this board who can set them up this way for you. I believe in bifurcation - I do not believe in using persimmon in challenging competition and yes, I have tried it before.

I think you CAN win tournaments with persimmon under 7000 yards. check the course, then choose your gear. my best driving days have been with persimmon hands down. it goes as far as everyone elses 3 wood. i got 20th in a pro tournament that Andrew Guliani won. beat a guy who qualified for a pga tour event this year in that tourney. i pretty much putt awful. the course was short narrow and firm. ive yet to find a modern driver that i love. anyone gaming the new titleist driver that flattens a bit? wonder whats in bradleys modern bag???

If a golf course is wide open and very long, then there is certainly no advantage to giving up yardage off the tee if there is no significant penalty for errant tee shots. There are a lot of courses designed like this particularly in the last 20 years. I don’t play them. I have a choice in what courses I play… and what events I enter. Hogan picked his courses later when he could afford to do so… just as Tiger and Phil do now.

On a tight track, I would feel no disadvantage using persimmon. I would actually see it as an advantage because I can control trajectory much easier. I don’t need a head that large to hit it solid. I can shape the ball, and play low boring ground runners much more effectively with persimmon. For those shots it’s an advantage. I would not want to play a 3 metal off the tee for instance because I can’t hit a 3 wood or 3 metal as low as I can a persimmon driver. Also, if I do hook one. a persimmon gets on the ground a lot faster than a shot that is hooking from a higher launch angle.

Longer is usually better if you are in the fairway. But if you don’t hit titanium straight and find yourself in trouble off the tee, it’s a disadvantage.

There are a lot of factors.

One thing with persimmon… at least the way I have mine set up, is that I don’t need two different swings. My 1 iron swing is the same as my driver swing. Same shaft flex and weight. I am not dropping down a club that is suddenly 4 ounces lighter. That change in feel can cost you big time if you are not ready for it. I have seen amateur players take 9 holes to finally feel the difference between a super lightweight driver and their iron swing. Two OB’s, a water hazard and two shots into the trees that cost them 6 shots on the front nine. A ball 30 yards back in the fairway would be much more desirable.

I would also argue that winning an event… with persimmon… is a more interesting story… and draws attention to the player’s skill level in a way that titanium would never do. Regardless of whether it is an advantage or disadvantage, it makes a statement, and moves conversation away from technology and into the skill level of the player.

Heavier gear is healthier for the golf swing over time. It keeps your form in shape… your muscle tone.

There are still a lot of course records standing up to this day that were shot with persimmon. Rancho Park in Los Angeles is one of the highest annual rounds per year public courses in the US. Persimmon record from 1969 still stands in spite of thousands of rounds being played with modern gear. This record should have been obliterated 15 years ago but still stands. It says something. Lincoln Park in SF… same thing. Harrington’s round of 60 which Ken documented here for us on ABS still stands. I am sure there are countless others.

Mac O Grady finished 5th a couple years back in the Australian Senior Open in Perth using persimmon and blades against all the guys using modern gear. That was a good finish regardless of what gear you are using.

I have no doubt one could win today even on the PGA Tour on certain courses using persimmon. I think Tiger could win using persimmon. As wild as he drives his titanium, it might even help him.

But I would be the first to agree that on a super long modern track… where accuracy is not required, then the club that drives the farthest would be the advantage.

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I am heading over to Perth in a weeks time to go see Kim Felton and do some work with him and possibly a few other pros and do a few lessons. We are also going to play a few pro ams over there and Kim & I have actually targeted one of the pro am events (it is only a one day event) to use persimmon and see what happens. Felts said it is a shortish tree lined course that would hold not much disadvantage because accuracy and placement will be more important than length. Obviously I have never seen the course and don’t even know where it is but will be interesting to see what happens even though I have really not done any practice or playing over the past 2 months.

For me, competition is against the golf course… then others can compare one player to another from there… tournament awards, rankings etc.

I assume by appropriate competition you mean players who have a similar skill level and are using titanium. I don’t do that often… but sometimes those situations do come up.

Last week I played with Zack, Al Barkow, and his son Adam, who played titanium, at Green Valley CC. Adam was playing division 1 college golf last year on scholarship and had several top ten finishes in collegiate events. I consider him a fine young player. He birdied the first four holes right out of the shoot. After 5 holes he was 4 under and I was 2 under. But on the 6th and 9th holes he hit poor drives that cost him bogeys. I parred those holes because I was in the fairway playing from a bit farther back… but he had lost his advantage by being off the fairway.

The 3rd hole is a long par 5… relative to persimmon… I reached it for the first time that day playing a hard draw off the tee and firing a 1 iron into the front third of the green. Adam hit a huge drive and had only a 6 iron in. We both two putted for birdie. His shot from 200 yards with a 6 iron was certainly an easier shot that the 1 iron I had played. For fun, he hit Zack’s Hogan persimmon off the tee and was a bit behind where I had driven the ball to.

The other par 5 was the first hole… I hit the flag with a 4 iron and he played a 7 iron into the green. He missed the green but got up and down for birdie.

When I was playing on tour I played well over 200 rounds a year. I’ll be lucky if I get in 30 rounds this year.
I hit over 40,000 balls a year while playing as a pro. I probably will hit less than 500 balls all year doing demos etc.

When you are living the all golf life, you can make a lot of suspicious or incorrect stuff work by covering up technical flaws and equipment issues with practice. This is what most serious golfers are doing these days.

But since my golf schedule now is more grounded in reality, I am faced with the same issues many amateurs are. Not playing much… not practicing much. So my point is the last thing I want to do is have to be managing two or three different swings tailored to huge discrepancies in how my equipment is set up. Heavy irons really help me feel the club and get my body motivated to turn properly. But I don’t want to have to figure out how to swing a super long lightweight frying pan that offers poor feedback and likely will not offer me the accuracy I need to play tighter golf courses. I don’t want to have to manage putting with a lightweight, upright whippy shafted putter with a squared up grip. As a part time player, I need familiarity to be my friend, not my enemy. I need to take as much timing out of my swing from tee through the green.

To me… classic gear is not a retro thing or nostalgic. It’s simply better gear to play on proper golf courses where accuracy is required and I do like to hit the ball hard and long, but not at the expense of control and balance.

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I started playing when i was 10, and got pretty good by 16 to think about turning pro. This was early to mid 80’s I always played blades and persimmon. A Mcgregor eyo o matic was the driver i used to turn pro with. As the early 90’s approached, metal woods were all the rage, and i was conned into the mass marketing thinking i would lose out if i didnt change. So the Mac gathered dust and the madness began.

I remember the first sales rep who came into our shop telling us we had to stock these new metal drivers. How good they were ect ect ect. My boss, Mr Abbott, a very fine player, remarked " they seem awful light " A sales pitch was given and stock was ordered. Mr Abbott never put one in his bag.

I can say without doubt, Metal drivers ruined my game. I had zero feedback, could hit the ball anywhere on the face, so i swung longer, faster harder. A real grip it and rip it mentality, cause it didnt matter where i made contact, that thing was outta here. My iron game became just horrific. I got caught up in club fitting and i was told i need 4 deg upright. I played those irons for 6 years. I figured out how to hit those shovels pretty straight by working my arse off and hitting a 1000 balls per day.

My techique became a real mess. From memory i think i finished with a ping titaniam 47 inch graphite shafted, that weighed about as much a my last paycheck. It never occured to me that my driver was causing so much damage. In the last few rounds before i walked away from this game for 8 years, the only club i could hit was my frying pan. It was horrible technique, horrible ball flight, but went a long way. I was happy to walk away.

Fast forwared 8 years and, due only to a change of employment, and my new boss loved golf, so i really had no choice lol. I started again

I feel blessed to have stumbled onto this site, and have a chance to spend time with like minded golfers.

I have used persimmon exclusively since i started again. In no way is it a hcp. The course i play is a fine test, 7000 yards from the tips. Hard fast couch fairways, like many courses down here, i can out drive most due to my trajectory. I can work it around doglegs where my competitors lay up to the corner. Im talking club golfers, not tour players.

I have no interest in playing pro golf ever again. I do however, plan to challenge my game to the highest level of amatuer golf. And I will do it with Persimmons and blades, on the proviso the courses arnt these crazy new cow paddocks they have planted around. If they are classic test, designed by true artists, then yes, my clubs will not hinder me in the slightest. I will have an edge IMO


The list of winner until 1998 says it all. If you have not been there in person, it is tight, greens are small, wind is howling. I do not mean by modern standards, by any standards. Trajectory control is key on every shot, wind has to be a calculation.

Except Cink, all multiple winners are flushers and beat the competition with ball striking. Read the stat about Archer putting, you think he was making all 30 footers on those greens. I think he was on and hitting it close. Davis Love use to be and still would be the man there with persimmon and balata. He was demolishing competion, won by 9 and 5 wins in 16 years on one of the toughest ball striking courses on tour. On the pro level you miss the sweet spot you deserve to be in the rough. Perfection is the level you are measured against in any profession, in sports it is almost never attainable but it is the mark. Perfect example in Vegas, building stopped at the 20 story range because the structure could not hold in an earthquake. The building was suppose to be over 40 stories and will be torn down. Somebody messed up and now somebody else will take over. This is how competion works, you do not have forgivness for the miscalculation and now must deal with the situation you have. If this building were golf they would build the high technology building and hope not to have an earthquake like a pro would mishit a modern iron with a low spinning ball and hope he could putt well enough to mask the mistake. It is not like golf now the building will be torn down and the pro that miscalculated should be in the heavy rough hoping for a good lie and intimidated by the superior ball striking of the player that calculated correctly and is on the correct side of the hole with an easy birdie putt.

On the pro level thats why rough should be thick, fairways should be narrow, and greens should be small or difficult. That is what measures skill level, you miss more you should be penalized thats why it is a hazard. Laugh when any player complains about rough, sand, greens. Two are hazards, if you are as good as you think do not hit it there and any green is easy from 8 feet on the correct side of the pin. Do not be confused, golf is a game of placement first. Distance is great if it gives you the best possible placement for the next shot. 340 in the rough should be the a worse outcome than 290 in the fairway but is not because they wedge on the green. Should be wedge out to the fairway because you are not as good as the player in the fairway and your score should reflect that. I have seen beginners hit it over 300 their first time out and routinely in a year, have not seen a beginner shoot 72 in the first two years. One is karate and one is handgun. Give both a handgun and even a first timer can hit the target. Give both a few boards to break, one will break the boards, one will break the hand.

Myself and Kim Felton played a pro am at HarveyGC in Western Australia about 90 mins south of Perth. Great little course. 5900 metres. Par 72. Very tight from the tee. Smallest greens I have seen. Quite slopey in certain areas.
I had never seen the course before but really enjoyed it.
We both used persimmon woods with steel shafts.
I holed nothing and had 2 three putts from fringes for bogey and shot even par 72 to finish 12th.
Felts shot 5 under par 67 with bogies on his first and final hole to finish equal winner.
So even though it was only a one day event- we proved that persimmon can still WIN on a PGA Tour event and compete

Hats off! GREAT stuff!

Anyone holding onto the “can’t win with persimmon” theory… well that went out the window.

Quality golf courses require thinking from the tee about trajectory, position and the distance best to come into the green from. A golf course that doesn’t require that kind of consideration is not a great golf course. There has been a lot of great golf played with persimmon over the ages by fine players positioning the ball properly into the fairway. Sounds like another fine example of the benefits of doing so on a golf course that required such a skill.

Congrats on the win Kim!

LeeJanzen DQ’d from US Open sectional qualifying today apparently, because he was wearing mettle spikes … -qualifier

Interesting to refresh again on this thread.

This is a fun thread. Persimmon and blades is the way to go. I’m not the level of some of these other posters, but I usually get positive reactions from playing partners with the vintage gear. Most are surprised I can hit them well, and once in a while, you are advised to get modern equipment…

Played a casual 9 yesterday with my son. We were paired with another father/son combo that took their golf pretty seriously. I played the tips and they played up a tee, though the son was good enough to play from the back if he wanted. I shot 38 with only 1 par, lol - 5 bogies and 3 birdies. The bogies were pretty stupid, but I don’t play enough to avoid those.

Anyway, it wasn’t until the 9th tee that the father asked me about the persimmons and bullseye putter. He was very positive and they both got a kick out of the experience.

Earlier this summer, I played with a couple guys that qualified for the state am and did just fine with the old gear. I think if I improved my technique and had time to practice, I could be respectable at the state amateur level with vintage equipment.

There’s really only 2 downsides I’ve seen with the old stuff:

  1. Doesn’t go as far, obviously. Not a big concern at most courses I play. Solid is better than far.
  2. Grooves won’t be as sharp. This can cause me some issues especially in the wedges, so I often carry modern wedges.

Other than that, there are a lot of positives.