Hickory Golf Profile – An Interview with William W. Reed

The following is an interview with William W. Reed, Current Executive Director Hickory Golf Association.

How did you get introduced to hickory golf? What year did you start playing hickories? Was introduced to the Golf Collectors Society by Past President Warren Olson. Started playing hickory golf in 1986. Have played with hickory clubs for over 2000 rounds.

What is your fascination with Hickory Golf? Why do you think golfers should try playing hickories? I feel that playing with hickories helps to preserve the past history of this great game called golf.

What advice would you give to a new hickory golfer? Or a new hickory golfer looking to put together a playing set?
Experiment with trying all kinds of shots with various clubs. Learn your equipment. The best way to begin is in team or scramble events. Celebrate minor successes, finding the sweet spot on a mashie iron is like savoring a sip of 20 year old single malt scotch.

What clubs make up your current playing hickory set?
I’ve used many different play sets over the decades. Although the clubs in my current play bag are all from different club makers and differing models they all have matching swing weights and flexes that I have worked on over many years. My pre 1900 guttie play set are from R. Forgan & Son from St. Andrews, Scotland.

For new players, I advise them to borrow some playable clubs from an established hickory player. I’ve loaned clubs to literally 100’s of new players over the years.

What is your favorite club in the bag and why?
My favorite club is the “jigger “. It’s the most versatile club in any bag. Chipping, pitching, run ups, and full shots from fairways, tight lies, or rough. Nothing is as valuable as the many nuances of a jigger.

What golf ball do you traditionally play with hickory clubs?
Any new low compression, soft feel ball is appropriate for hickory play. However, I just ordered 12 dozen Mc Intyre Ouimet Mesh balls from Dr. David Brown. I had the Hickory Golf Association logo placed on them. That should last even a high handicapper like me for a round or two.

What is your most prized hickory club, hickory era memorabilia or most interesting find?
In my private collection, I value my Dwight Directional Driver the most. I know of only three still in existence although I’m sure there are more out there somewhere. The club was manufactured in Des Moines, Iowa over 100 years ago. I’ve collected many clubs with a Des Moines or Iowa connection , most are commons but some like the Dwight are rare and quite collectible.

What is your most proudest accomplishment on/off the golf course?
The thanks that I have received from many, many people that I introduced to the pains & pleasures of hickory golf.

What is your favorite hickory golf course?
My stock answer is the course that I’m playing at that moment when asked that very question. However, Hyperion Field Club, a 1910 Tom Bendelow design is my home club and the annual home of the Iowa Hickory Classic played every September for the past decade. It’s hard to beat.

What is your most recent addition to your hickory golf bag? Why?
A custom made bag tag crafted from a hickory tree felled at Hyperion Field Club after a storm. Craftsman Russ Fisher also of Des Moines made a very few of those tags as gifts to a select group of HGA members. It doesn’t help my score but it makes my bag look good.

Dream foursome? (living)
Myself and three brand new hickory players falling in love with the game.

If you could go back and play a round of golf in the hickory era, who would round out your dream foursome?
Harry Vardon, Robert Tyre Jones Jr. and Walter Hagen, and since I don’t belong in that group you can join in instead of me. I’ll just carry any of those bags as a caddy and be happy in their company.

Do you have a golf course, trip or adventure on your hickory bucket list?
I never want the bucket list to be complete. I just want to continue what I’ve been doing for as long as I can physically do so.

What golf associations do you belong to?
All of them.

What is your must have 19th hole drink/dish?
On someone else’s tab.

18 Rapid Fire Questions

Caddie or no caddie?
Both can be appropriate.

Your last round played, did you play modern or hickory clubs?
I never play modern.

The last course played with hickory clubs?
Grandview Golf Course in DesMoines, Iowa. Grandview is also the home of the Heart of America Hickory Championship every July.

What percentage of your rounds are played with hickory golf clubs?
100 percent.

Long Par 3 or Long Par 5?
With my lack of game they’re the same thing.

Are you more of a Hickory golf collector or Hickory golf player?
To me those terms are synonymous.

Shorts, Knickers or Trousers?
The correct name is ” plus fours””
Knickers are an abbreviation of knickerbockers. Tight fitting at the knee for mostly young boys.

St. Andrews or Pebble Beach? (or somewhere else?)
The Old Course of course!!!

Just off the green. Jigger, Niblick or Putter?
Just knock it in.

With hickories, round of life or hole in one?
I’ve been fortunate enough to score an ace with a Tom Stewart mashie-Niblick.

Play for fun or play for something?
The game is everything.

Early morning or twilight?

Favorite hickory-era golfer? (Jones, Sarazen, Hagen, ???)
Sir Walter.

Drive for show or putt for dough?
It must go in the hole or it means nothing.

Canvas bag or leather bag?
I have both. What color do you want?

Leather grip color/style preference?
Leather any color.

Patina or polished clubs?
The ball doesn’t know the difference.

Broken shaft. Fix it myself or call an expert?
Most should call an expert.

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