Date: May 16, 2017
Author: Tony Durkin

Grieve leaves technology in his wake

Alan Grieve has become the first member of The Brisbane Golf Club since World War ll to win a monthly medal playing with a full set of hickory–shafted golf clubs.

Dressed appropriately in plus fours, the now six-marker fired a two over 74 in last Saturday’s Monthly Mug to win A Grade by one stroke after sinking a 12-metre birdie putt on his final hole, the ninth. It was his third birdie of the round in his winning score of nett 67.

His historic victory sits beside his wins in the US Hickory Open championship back in 2011 and the 2012 and 2014 Australian Hickory championships.

“It may only have been the club Monthly Mug, but to me it is certainly a huge golfing highlight,” said the 45-year-old draftsman whose fascination with the history of golf started when he was gifted a Calamity Jane hickory putter by his parents for his 21st birthday.

“I just love playing with hickory clubs,” he said.

“When I hit a good shot I really know it. The feel is so pure, unlike modern-day clubs.”

After buying an introductory hickory set online from a manufacturer at Louisville Golf in Kentucky, Grieve has gradually built an authentic set, all manufactured before 1935. And he carries them in a genuine ‘small leather bag’, 15cm in diameter.

Hickory clubs are named, not numbered. A wedge is a niblick, a five-iron a mashie, a three-wood a spoon and a five-wood is called a cleek. On average, Alan says he hits them about 20 per cent less in distance than a modern golf club.

While he always wears plus fours, Queensland’s weather dictates his accompanying dress.

“Sticking with tradition, I like to wear plus fours with a shirt, vest, tie and cloth cap,” he said.

“But in the warmer months a wide-brimmed hat makes more sense and I discard the vest, tie and cloth cap.

“I suppose you would have to ask the other players, but I think they understand and accept my principles, and don’t regard me as a lair.”

Participation in specific competitions for players using only hickory-shafted clubs is becoming increasingly popular in Australia with state and national championships played annually. Under the auspices of the Australian Golf Heritage Society, the Australian championships are staged at Sydney’s Carnarvon Golf Club each November and the Queensland event at Royal Queensland, also in November.

And despite Alan having won both the US and Australian championships, his May monthly medal victory at The Brisbane Golf Club was the first major event win for Alan with his Hickory clubs against all comers, and also his initial competition victory since joining the club in February 2014.