Harry Vardon’s golf club purchasing guidelines

By: August 10, 2013

My girlfriend has just returned from Toronto, Canada. She brought me a very interesting and unique book written by Harry Vardon: The gist of golf. The book was written and printed in 1922. Harry Vardon wrote it in a golf language that we don't speak it anymore. What she found is the reprinted version of the book from 1999. She found it in a flea market. But this is not the point…


The Gist of Golf by Harry Vardon

It is a very interesting golf textbook on golf swing techniques with some recommendations how to buy golf clubs. What caught my mind was his advice for novice golfers like me (I am a double digit HCP golfer):

"There are many golfers who feel that they must have at least a dozen or fourteen. Seven or eight ought to be ample – the driver, brassie, cleek, iron, mashie, niblick, and putter, perhaps, a jigger added to the equipment to give a sense of security…..I confess that, on important occasions, I carry eleven clubs, but three of these are spares and are seldom employed."

I think this is a pretty good advice to those who are planning to buy their first golf club set or simply to complete his golf club set. How do you buy golf clubs? What were your considerations?

Harry Vardon

If you didn't understand Harry Vardon's writing, it is not your fault. I'll help you:

  • brassie: a wooden fairway golf club with a protective brass soleplate, the equivalent of the modern two-wood.
  • cleek: term of Scottish origin describing a narrow-bladed iron driving club, roughly equivalent to the modern one- or two-iron.
  • mashie: and iron golf club that appeared in the late 1880s, the mashie had loft equivalent to the modern five-iron. 
  • niblick: an early lofted iron, the niblick was roughly equivalent to the modern nine-iron. With a heavy head and a wide face slanted at a greater angle than any other iron except a wedge, it was used for extricating, or "howking", the golf ball from difficult lies or for lofting it over hazards.
  • jigger: a metal golf club wiht a narrow face.

Do you know anybody who is familiar with these words and knows the origin of thes golf words?