Technical Editor Joel Tadman played a round with the same set of MacGregor clubs Jack Nicklaus would have used in the 1960s, with some very interesting results...
A Round Using Jack Nicklaus' Clubs!
I was lucky enough recently to have the chance to play a round at my home club, Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, using a vintage set of MacGregor clubs that were the exact same models the great Jack Nicklaus himself would have used in the 1960s.
We got hold of them via the Persimmon Golf Society Facebook page and needless to say, the results were... interesting! We even tried a wound Dunlop 65 ball from the 1790s made here in the UK.
Off the tee I actually really enjoyed using my 9° MacGregor Tommy Armour Signature Tourney 945W driver from 1954.
The persimmon head is tiny by comparison with modern drivers (it looks about half the size), meaning it does lack forgiveness, but it feels solid out of the middle and cherry finish is beautiful. With a modern ball, it was only around 15-20 yards short of my current driver.
The revelation was the 1965 MacGregor MT 1 iron. I could hit Tiger Woods-style stingers with ease and get the ball chasing down the fairway and the feel was buttery soft. Lovely.
Into greens My MacGregor VIP irons felt very head-heavy and the leading edge is incredibly sharp because of the complete lack of any bounce, which is why I took huge chunky divots and had to be very precise with the strike.
The design and higher lofts meant they also spin the ball significantly more than my modern irons, which meant I lost distance, especially into the wind, but again the feel was very pleasing - soft and smooth.
Short game I managed to putt surprisingly well with my MacGregor George Lowe 600 putter, despite the absence of any face technology whatsoever. The lack of bounce on the wedges made chipping and bunker shots very difficult and they lacked the control I was accustomed to.
Verdict Despite the obvious shortfalls of the equipment, it was still a truly enjoyable and eye-opening experience that made me appreciate the level of skill required to play professional golf in Jack’s era. Jack was privy to the occasional 300-yard drive, which just goes to show the power and the ball-striking prowess he possessed. My experiment also showed the effect the modern ball has on the game in terms of distance but also stability through the air.
There were some clubs, like the 1-iron, I feel like I could get away with putting in the bag, and while I enjoyed the sensation of a well-struck shot with all of these clubs, they do make the game harder than I'm used to!
Joel's full classic What's In The Bag:
Driver - MacGregor Tommy Armour Signature Tourney 945W, 9° (1954) Fairway - MacGregor Tommy Armour Signature Tourney 693 T, 15° (1950) Irons - MacGregor MT1 iron (1965), MacGregor VIP, 2-SW (1967) Putter - MacGregor George Lowe 600 (1960) Ball - Dunlop 65 1.68 and 1.62 (approx 1970)
Joel has worked in the golf industry for over 12 years covering both instruction and more recently equipment. He now oversees all product content here at Golf Monthly, managing a team of talented and passionate writers and presenters in delivering the most thorough and accurate reviews, buying advice, comparisons and deals to help the reader find exactly what they are looking for. So whether it's the latest driver, irons, putter or laser rangefinder, Joel has his finger on the pulse keeping up to date with the latest releases in golf. He is also responsible for all content on irons and golf tech, including distance measuring devices and launch monitors.
One of his career highlights came when covering the 2012 Masters he got to play the sacred Augusta National course on the Monday after the tournament concluded, shooting a respectable 87 with just one par and four birdies. To date, his best ever round of golf is a 5-under 67 back in 2011. He currently plays his golf at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincs, with a handicap index of 3.3.
Joel's current What's In The Bag?
Driver: Titleist TSR3, 9°
Fairway wood: Titleist TSR3, 15°
Hybrid: Titleist TSi2, 18°
Irons: TaylorMade P770, 4-7 iron, TaylorMade P7MC 8-PW
Putter: Evnroll ER2V
Ball: 2021 Titleist Pro V1x
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