Extra Holes contains additional material for which there was no space in the printed magazine. Beginning with the Winter 2019 edition, look for The Golf Extra online digital magazine for additional bonus pages. Meanwhile, following are additional items from the Autumn 2019 edition of The Golf.
Jim von Lossow’s portable whipping device
More from the Chester Horton article, Autumn 2019
Click here to see additional articles and images from Dr. Gary Wiren’s Chester Horton collection.
Click here for more information on Edgewater Golf Club where Horton was once professional.
Photos from the Wayne Stiles article
Following are additional photos from Kevin Mendik’s article on the Wayne Stiles Society. Click here for a NYTimes article on Wayne Stiles with Kevin Mendik.
All Quiet at Sodding Chipbury – Or is it?
By Peter Dobereiner
Another Tale of Old Persimmon, the Pro
Monday is a quiet day at Sodding Chipbury golf club. No catering is provided and as often as not you cannot even get a drink because despite repeated and increasingly dire warnings, the steward usually departs on his day off with the bar key in his pocket. On some Mondays no more than half a dozen rounds of golf are played all day.
Old Persimmon and his assistant, the Apprentice Sex Maniac, work as usual. For them Mondays are free of the routine chores of the golf professional and they devote the day to the past glories and noble traditions of their craft.
On this particular Monday they were working quietly in the workshop behind the shop. The Apprentice Sex Maniac sorted through a selection of strips of ram’s horn. He chose one, filed at it for some minutes and then dropped it into a can of water which he set on the gas ring.
Old Persimmon was seated at the bench carefully gouging away the interior of a beech-wood putter head. He worked slowly for this was a delicate job; the putter head was by now a thin shell. He spoke without looking up. “Remind me next time I go to town to drop in at the slaughterhouse and pick up some more hide. We’re getting low on grips.”
It was a scene to delight anyone with a feeling for the history of golf: two craftsmen, lovingly fashioning clubs such as the pioneers of the game used on their windswept Scottish links.
When he was first initiated into the Monday club-making task the Apprentice Sex Maniac had asked the purpose of the exercise. Old Persimmon had gravely lectured him on the responsibilities of a professional. He must know everything about golf. These young whippersnappers couldn’t even re-grip a club these days. Call themselves professionals; they were no more than shopkeepers. As for himself, Old Persimmon said, he likes to keep his hand in. Besides, it was a pleasant hobby.
At first, the Apprentice Sex Maniac had accepted all this without question. Anyway, he enjoyed the work. Then, little by little, his suspicions had been alerted to the idea that perhaps Old Persimmon had another purpose. He always took the completed clubs home with him to his cottage by the sixth green and by now, after 50 years at it, the place must be packed to the ceiling with them.
Then one day, when Old Persimmon was out on the course, the Apprentice Sex Maniac had taken a call from the bank asking whether he would call in and countersign a cheque from a New York bank. New York? And then there had been the occasion when he caught sight of Old Persimmon labelling a large parcel to a St. Andrews antique shop.
Speculation was interrupted by the sound of studded feet entering the shop. ”I’ll go”, said Persimmon. One of the members, Tom Jamieson, was with a stranger. Odd, thought Old Persimmon. Jamieson was sales manager for an electronics firm in Coventry and never came to the club on Monday.
“Morning, Simmons”, said Jamieson in a hearty voice. “This is Mr. Paul Howard from Cincinnati. He’s over to have a dekko at some of our goodies and we thought the wheels of commerce might be oiled with a spot of golf. Could you fix him up with some sticks and stuff?”
Old Persimmon shook hands with the American. “I’ll be glad to do what I can”, he said. “Mind you, they won’t be quite what you’re used to, Mr. Howard. We don’t go for your new fangled speed slots and dynamic sweet spots”.
“Me neither”, said Howard. “I guess the whole golf business is cockeyed these days. Finest clubs I touched were my custom-built Auchterlonies. Wouldn’t part with them for the world and I’ve had them for 20 years. You can’t beat the old craftsmen when it comes to balancing a club”.
“You’re right, Mr. Howard”, said Old Persimmon. “There’s 50 years of experience in these two hands of mine and I’ll back them against any factory swing-weight machine any day”.
Old Persimmon busied himself with collecting a set of clubs for the visitor. “Of course, I’m a steel man myself, through and through. I played with hickory as a younger man, you understand, but I didn’t get interested in clubs until steel came along. Hickory and all that business with spliced heads is a complete mystery to me. I just don’t know how they played as well as they did with those funny old clubs. I tried one once. Old Tom Morris gave my father his son’s driver – that was young Tom Morris, you understand and I can’t for the life of me think how he managed to win all those championships with such a club”.
“You mean you’ve still got it?” asked Howard.
“Well, I’m not sure”, said Old Persimmon. “It was lying around my cottage for years but I may have thrown it out”.
Old Persimmon noted the studied casualness of Howard’s response. “I’d quite like to see it. Young Tom’s driver, eh?”
“I’ll have a look while you’re out playing,” said Old Persimmon.
As soon as the two men had played off, Old Persimmon walked briskly to his cottage. In the second bedroom, arranged in racks like wine bottles, were some 200 clubs. He went to the bin neatly labeled “Drivers, early nineteenth century” and selected one.
Back at the shop he opened a drawer and rummaged among a collection of die punches until he found the one he wanted. Placing the club in the vice he carefully positioned the punch and gave it a smart tap with the hammer. He smeared a little grease into the name “MORRIS” now indented onto the head of the club and blew some dust onto it. From the bottom of a cupboard he took an old newspaper.
After their game, Jamieson and Howard returned the clubs to the shop and Old Persimmon was waiting. He had the club and was unwrapping its newspaper covering. He paused and studied a page of the paper.
“What a coincidence. Just look at this old report.” He pointed to a headline reading: “Is there a treasure in your attic?”
“It says here that antique golf clubs fetch a hundred dollars. Well fancy that. I would never have thought it. That is, if anyone had such a club to sell.”
He picked up a duster and gave the club a good polish before handing it to Howard. The American examined it with awe. “Of course, it’s purely sentimental value to me – what with it being my old father’s and Tom Morris’ and all,” said Old Persimmon.
“I suppose you wouldn’t consider selling it,” said Howard.
“Well, I hadn’t thought about it,” said Old Persimmon. “Never crossed my mind. Still, I suppose it must be a bit valuable, according to the paper.”
“What would you say to a hundred dollars?” asked Howard.
“Dollars?” said Old Persimmon, doing a rapid mental calculation on the basis of the day’s exchange rate of 2.387. “Are they much the same as our pounds?”
“Roughly”, said Howard.
“That’s a pretty old newspaper”, said Old Persimmon. “All of ten years old. They tell me there’s been a lot of that inflation about.”
They settled for 220 dollars and both were delighted with the deal. As soon as the American had departed Old Persimmon went to his card index and entered the name of Paul Howard with the date and the cryptic notation: “Mug. Morris driver”. His parting remark about members sometimes bringing old clubs to the shop had interested the American. He had promised to keep in touch and let him know if anything of interest came his way.
Later that afternoon, a scruffy looking individual came into the shop and spoke confidently to Old Persimmon. “Here, squire, interested in a brand new set of McGregors? Rock bottom price to you, squire.”
“Where did you get them?” asked Old Persimmon.
The stranger winked broadly. “Men of the world, squire. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. No questions, no pack drill, eh?”
Old Persimmon’s fury was wondrous to behold. “Stolen goods, eh? Get out. If you are not off these premises in two minutes flat I will have the police on you. And never come back here trying to fence your filthy goods.”
The stranger made a hurried exit with a parting sally of “No offence, squire.”
Old Persimmon turned to the Apprentice Sex Maniac and remarked: “Let that be a lessen to you, lad.” He retrieved the newspaper in which he had wrapped the antique club and replaced it in his cupboard. You never know when it might come in handy again. “In this job, honesty is the only policy. The nerve of that crook … ”