Punch Shots: Reminiscing over nostalgic golf equipment

Our writers have fond memories of their favorite "old school" golf clubs.
Golf Advisor Senior Writer Tim Gavrich's old-school putter collection includes (from top to bottom) a Bettinardi BB2, an Acushnet Bullseye, a PING Stainless Steel Anser 4 and a PING 1-A.

Whenever golf equipment comes to the forefront of the discourse about the game lately, it's usually for concerning reasons: namely, that the ball goes too far and the drivers are too forgiving for the best golfers in the world.

This week, though, there's good reason to take a momentary break from all that. Michael Thompson notched his first PGA Tour win in more than seven years on Sunday at the 3M Open, and he did it old-school, with a putter whose design goes back to 1982, the year it came out in a stainless steel finish. Senior Writer Tim Gavrich is fond of that particular model as well, having used it with some success his senior year in college.

Sometimes, "vintage" equipment works just as well - dare we say better? - than the modern stuff. Our staff looks back on some of the best old-school equipment they've used or dream of trying:

Brandon Tucker: The 8802

Ben Crenshaw lines up a putt with his Wilson 8802 during the 1984 U.S. Masters Tournament. Crenshaw won the tournament and the first of two green jackets.

To me, golf clubs are a lot like music: nothing great has been made since I graduated high school. In the 90s I fell for the bubble shaft. I thought my Burner Bubble driver was the best on the planet until one of my teammates rolled up with the Titleist 975D and started bombing it past me 20 yards.

Chasing distance hasn't stopped 20+ years later, but it's been wild to watch OEMs continually try to redefine putter designs well into the 21st century. Can technology truly improve with a putter? They're certainly trying. But there's something endearing about the look of an old blade putter. I've never owned one, but the Wilson 8802 has a timeless design with a legendary history. Having hit the original 8802s in the past I've always loved the feel. I find when I set up to it, I elongate and slow down my stroke like Ben Crenshaw.

A few years ago in Austin I caught wind of an estate sale at the Crenshaws' old house. Maybe there's an old Little Ben lying around! I pondered. But alas, by the time I got there at lunch time the joint was cleaned out of any decent golf gear. A few times a year I peruse eBay and look at old 8802 models for sale. Wilson relaunched their greatest creation in 2014 but I think I'd prefer the original. The next time my bulky, modern, Odyssey Two-Ball putter has a bad outing, I'll likely start thinking again about how I could transform my short game with that shiny old blade.

Jason Scott Deegan: The 7-wood

I’m still reeling from the biggest regret of my golf career. At least 15 years ago, I gave up my 7-wood to force myself to hit modern hybrids that were all the rage at the time. My game from 180 to 190 yards has never been the same.

There was nothing magical about the club. I’m pretty sure I got it at a Play It Again Sports from a bargain bin in the late 1990s when I began playing more post-college. I don’t even recall the brand - maybe a Pro Staff, I believe, with a gray head and a giant orange ‘7’ painted on the bottom. But it was money. Whenever I needed to hit a shot with a carry longer than 160 yards, it came out of the bag. The 165-yard shot was a simple swing with a choke-down grip. When I was playing well, it was a go-to for those tough 200-yard par 3s that can wreck a round. Where I miss it most is as a fairway wood as the second shot on par 5s. Its head could cut through rough and the extra loft boosted my confidence.

I was glad to see Michael Thompson use a Ping G410 7-wood (loft 20.5 degrees) to hit a par 5 in two this weekend and ultimately win the 3M Championship with the club in the bag. I’m a firm believer that more of us, no matter our handicap, should have one in the bag. Don’t look down on those who do. It’s such a versatile club. Seven is considered the luckiest of numbers, remember?

Tim Gavrich: An arrow-straight driver

Part of a throwback club set, this TaylorMade r540 driver hit a lot of fairways in the early Oughts.

I swear I never missed a fairway my freshman year of high school. Growing up in Connecticut, I remember picking out one of those mower-width fairway stripes and bunting a 240-yard tee shot into it on command with my trusty TaylorMade r540 driver with a Grafalloy Blue shaft that seemingly half of the junior golf scene was using circa 2004. Traveling without my own clubs for the first time in a while and instead using some old ones my father brought up from my childhood home, I got a chance to bust it out again last year during an outing in Vermont before my sister's wedding. To my delight, the r540 could still find fairways with the greatest of ease. I just had to deal with giving up 25 yards to my current TaylorMade M3, not to mention 100 cubic centimeters in volume.

Let me also echo Jason's affinity for the 7 wood, as I still carry one (a TaylorMade V Steel) and enjoy its sharp leading edge and compact wood head shape as compared to hybrids.

What is your favorite "nostalgic" golf club from yesteryear? Is it still in the bag? Let us know in the comments below.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
88 Comments
Default User Avatar
Commented on

Hi again I forgot to inform that the said putter is inscriber with, on the back at the top the initials "BJ" lower on left side is "MATCHED PUTTER 9" central is "A W BLACK SELECTED RMG" and on the right side is "SPECIAL". Any comments anyone.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

I have a putter head which originally had a wooden shaft which my father in his younger days used often. He eventually gave the club to me and I have added a metal shaft. My father was not a funny man in many ways so when, on receiving the putter, I asked him if it was pre war to which he replied " which war".

Default User Avatar
Commented on

The putter in my bag is a 1903 Schenectady with hickory shaft. It has so much experience I never miss my putts.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

I still have a set of Burke Punch Irons 2-pw and a fiberglass shafted pw from Burke PGA.
Persimmon head Burke Bomber and 2,3,4,woods as well. I had but sold an aluminum shafted Burke Bomber driver. I should have kept it. Plus Ote Crispin hickory shaft putters 3 of them and a Burke 10 iron (putter).

Default User Avatar
Commented on

that ping 1-a was the greatest putter, used it for years until one day the shaft came loose within the head. not broken or separated, just loose. every kind of glue, even a bb inserted through a hole drilled in the bottom of the head to force the shaft to widen, failed to take for more than a few rounds.
went looking for it more years later and the wife said, “that old thing, i threw it out, you never used it anyway.” love conquered all, but it was in balance there for a few minutes.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

My TP Mills #4 putter from 1981 has served me well for 40 years. I also have a TP Mills made by Mizuno (the #4 is a Spalding) which is very good on mishits. It looks like a cross between my #4 and a PING Anser 2. TP Mills are milled clubs and were considered the Camerons of their day.

Commented on

I think I'll always have a club in the bag that most would consider nostalgic. Every now & again I'll pull my "John Reuter Acushnet Bullseye putter" out of storage and give it a spin. I recall picking it up for $15 in a pawn shop in the mid 1980's. I used it for years until I replaced it with an Odyssey 2 ball putter I won in a tournament in 2003. I still use that 24 year old Odyssey putter every round.

I learned early on that I couldn't hit long (3, 4 or 5 irons) irons worth a crap, so I have a fondness for 7 woods. I still to this day carry 2 of them in the bag. They are my "money" clubs. The first one is a Callaway Great Big Bertha Steelhead 7 wood with a firm flex graphite shaft I bought off a golf buddy for $100 around 2001. It's my club of choice for those 186-200 yard shots. My second 7 wood is a Top Flite Intimidator Titanium 400 with a regular graphite shaft. I pull it out of the bag when I need to make those 170-185 yard shots.

I have yet to find a hybrid iron or club that can replace my two 7 woods. There's a saying that still rings true to this day, "if it's not broken, don't fix it".

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Tim, I have to laugh, as I had the same r540 with the Grafalloy Blue ys7+. It took years before I found newer clubs on the market that could make a difference in my total carry off the tee while keeping me in the fairway.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

Still have my Acushnet Bullseye Wide Flange, 34-inch from the 1970s, regripped to a medium oversize. I was putting great with it a few years ago, then it went sour and I started trying many different ones (had a friend with over a dozen in his collection). Currently doing pretty well with an Odyssey Metal-X, but am always tempted to go back to the Bullseye after a couple bad putting rounds.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

I’m still using the putter Dad handed down to me 45 yrs ago. Mcgregor 100gp brass with nickel plate toe and heel. I took some early ribbing on league, but not much lately lol. It does the same thing every club in my bag does- whatever I make it do. It also makes a great lefty club when I need one.

Default User Avatar
Commented on

My beloved Ping A Blade oh how I miss you .... my golfing buddies where always going on to me to get rid of it and unfortunately I did .... now play with Scottie Cameron which I like but not love

More from the author
1 Min Read
October 15, 2021
As if golf wasn't already tough enough...
4 Min Read
October 14, 2021
More brands than ever want to help you look good, feel comfortable and spend wisely on your trousers.
3 Min Read
October 14, 2021
The wild and wavy North Course complements the Australian Sandbelt look of the acclaimed South Course near Oakland's airport.
4 Min Read
October 14, 2021
Comfort stations have become the new norm at exclusive private clubs like The Summit, which makes its PGA Tour debut this weekend.
4 Min Read
October 12, 2021
Golf course news and notes: October, 2021.
6 Min Read
October 11, 2021
The Grand Strand remains strong as an overall destination, but fond memories endure at these no-longer-existent links.
Popular
3 Min Read
September 16, 2021
Golf course news and notes: September, 2021.
7 Min Read
October 7, 2021
We found the 10 cities where it's easiest to score a tee time.
3 Min Read
October 4, 2021
America's largest golf resort, and one of its smallest, are expanding to enhance the guest experience.
1 Min Read
September 17, 2021
R.I.P. to a legend.
Load More
Now Reading
Punch Shots: Reminiscing over nostalgic golf equipment