Tuesday, August 4, 2009
AKRON, Ohio – For about 25 years before the mid-1990s, Guido Ianni of nearby Canton would sell MacGregor Tourney persimmon drivers, vintage early 1950s, to numerous PGA Tour players, both on the range the week of the Firestone tournament and at other Tour events from his car. The major-winning likes of Nick Faldo, Greg Norman, Ben Crenshaw and Davis Love III were buyers over the years.
“I’d show up in the parking lot, open my trunk and they’d be like flies all over the place,” he said of interested players.
The era of such flies is long gone. Ianni estimates he still has about 1,000 MacGregor persimmons at home, but he brought only one to Firestone this week: a 1954 M85. Not to sell, but as a novelty for any curious touring pros to hit on the range.
One such taker was Alvaro Quiros of Spain, perhaps the longest hitter in professional golf. Quiros drove balls about 290 yards, by eyewitness estimates, and later said he liked persimmon better than metal because he could work the ball better. He said he hit the wooden-headed club about the distance of his 5-wood.
“The players these days, they laugh at these persimmon drivers,” Ianni said. “Most of these kids today don’t even know what persimmon is. They look at it like it’s some toy or something.”