Brassies, mashies, niblicks and spoons. It’s a brand new game for golfers taking part in the Shelter Island Country Club’s Hickory Golf Classic on Sunday, August 7.

Each foursome will share a bag of real hickory-shafted golf clubs while experiencing golf as it was played when the SICC first welcomed golfers 120 years ago. In fact, the Hickory Classic coincides with the dates when the first men’s and women’s tournaments were held on the nine-hole course we affectionately call Goat Hill.

As we ditch our graphite shafts and oversized drivers and prepare to don our breeches and argyle socks, here’s a tiny bit of knowledge about those golf clubs of yore.

First thing to know: the first golf clubs all had names that best described their characteristics, much like the holes on a golf course. For example, the brassie is so named because golf club makers reinforced the club face with a brass plate. The niblick, with its stubby oval-shaped clubhead, takes its name from Scottish Gaelic and is a diminutive form of “feather” or nose. Mashie comes from the French word massagewhich means “club”.

In the mid-1800s Scottish club maker Robert Forgan made the first shafts from American hickory which were originally intended for ax handles. Hickory was more durable and stronger and quickly became the handle of choice. Steel rods were introduced in the United States in 1925, followed by graphite rods in 1973.

So how do these traditional clubs translate to today’s game? And how the hell do you hit them? We turn to the Society of Hickory Golfers for help:

The Basic Set of Hickory Clubs

• Brassie — He’s a workaholic. You can drive with it, use it in the fairway and in the rough. It has a loft of 13 to 14 degrees.

• Mid-Iron — Use this club for long iron shots, and is ideal for low runners.

• Mashie – Think of it as your 7 iron for approach shots and it’s great for chipping tight lies.

• Mashie Niblick — Equivalent to a 9 iron or pitching wedge.

• Niblick – Your pitching or sand wedge.

• Putter – Don’t be fooled, these aren’t like today’s putters. They are more inflated to help the ball propel itself on greens with longer grass.

These versatile clubs are the mainstay of a hickory set. When you approach the tee box with a hickory club for the first time, wiggle it around to appreciate the feel of the club. It will be heavier than the clubs you are used to. Remember to set your ball low on the drive (the brassie club head is about the size of a peach), grip lightly, and keep your swing smooth to reduce torque. Keep in mind that hickory clubs won’t give you the spin or stop faster on greens than you might like.

Some tips? Pull up your panties, relax and have fun. The deadline for registration is July 15.

The nine-hole benefit tournament, part of SICC’s 120th anniversary celebrations, is open to all; no handicap is required. The format is a four-person team race. All proceeds will be donated to SICC’s new Owen N. Dickson Junior Golf Program. The cost per golfer is $125 for those who require motorized carts and $100 per golfer for those who use their own private cart or choose to walk. Shotgun departure is at 10 a.m. However, if registrations exceed expectations, a second shotgun start will be added at 1 p.m.

Registration fee includes continental breakfast starting at 8 a.m., lunch after the game (or before if a second shotgun start is added), hickory clubs, caddy service and gift of departure. Round-the-clock, hickory-style chipping and putting contests will be held prior to the start of the tournament. All players must complete and submit a registration form with their payment. Forms are available online at or at the SICC pro shop. They can be returned by mail, email or at the pro shop.

Need panties? Order yours today at the SICC pro shop. Sizing and color swatches are available, as well as argyle caps and socks. Can’t or don’t play golf? You can still support the SICC Hickory Golf Classic by sponsoring a hole. The donation is $100 per hole and is tax deductible. Please email [email protected] and we will immediately send you a form.

Junior Golf Program: Slots are still available for young golfers ages 7-16 in SICC’s Owen N. Dickson Junior Golf Program. Weekly classes take place on Tuesdays from July 12 to August 9. The first group for ages 7-10 runs from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and the second group for ages 11-16 runs from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The cost is $75 per golfer with discounts for additional children in the same family. Clubs for junior golfers are provided. For more information or to register your child, write to [email protected].


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