There’s a quiet movement under way that’s taking golf in Queenstown back to its ancient roots.
Hickory golf is played with wooden clubs, just like the sport’s founders used back in the deep mists of time, up until the introduction of metal shafts about 100 years ago.
Arrowtown Golf Club member Ryan Cardno is a local exponent who says his hickory clubs are an expansion of his love for the game and its history.
‘‘You pick up a hickory club and you’ve got a direct connection back to all the people that made the game really.’’
The architectural designer also appreciates the beauty of the sticks made from Hickory hardwood.
‘‘I do have an interest in these old clubs visually and aesthetically … they look beautiful.’’
And sound beautiful when they thwack the ball.
‘‘A really rich, timbery sound that doesn’t ping like modern clubs.’’
Cardno likes to go the full hickory and plays with replica old-style golf balls, as well as clubs.
Although made from ‘‘modernish materials’’, the balls mimic the original orbs that were comprised of goose feathers encased in leather and have less of the dimples that enable modern balls to fly longer and straighter.
He says using the old gear ‘‘without all the science in them’’, reduces his distance off the tee and fairway by 10% and initially blew his handicap out by five, but the performance cost is worth it.
‘‘You have to think your way around the golf course a little bit more … and swing a bit harder.
‘‘The clubs have more personality and make you appreciate golf more from a different angle.’’
The 45-year-old is back playing off scratch with his four sets of hickory clubs, among the 100 or so wooden clubs he has collected over the years, half of which he’s restored.
‘‘It’s a slow burn … once you go down the rabbit hole you meet different people with clubs on Trade Me, cleaning out their grandparents’ house.
‘‘There’s actually a lot out there, they keep pretty well.’’
NZ Society of Hickory Golf rep Simon Boland has a remit to grow the old-gear game in both the Basin and Southland.
He says many are embracing the challenge of playing hickory golf in the area, which is ‘‘exciting’’.
‘‘Stalwarts of the game playing with hickory clubs today are still able to score well against those using all the modern technology.
‘‘There is definitely a skill to it.
‘‘So my role will be to get the processes under way to bring back some of that history.’’
He says Arrowtown is one of a number of courses in the area ‘‘set up nicely’’ for hickory golf.