2006: Retro active - Ginty

In 1973, Johnny Miller scorched Oakmont Country Club with an 8-under-par 63 in the final round

of the U.S. Open, going on to win by a stroke over John Schlee.

The same year, Stan Thompson created one of the most influential clubs of all time – the Ginty – which inspired a generation of utility clubs.

Miller still is involved in golf as a broadcaster and philosopher. The Ginty is still here, too, and has enjoyed a resurgence the past several years.

There’s nothing like being stuck in the ’70s.

In the evolution of golf equipment, it is unusual for a full-swing club such as the Ginty to experience this kind of life span. Such status normally is reserved for putters.

“The club is that good,” said Mike Just, president of Louisville Golf, which sells the Ginty. “It cannot be reproduced in metal.”

With all the modern utility clubs and hybrids out there, Just’s assertion is questionable, so Golfweek decided to put the Ginty to the test.

The Gintys cost $139 each and are available in several lofts. They are numbered 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9, though these numbers do not equate to numbers on modern metalwoods. Balls struck with a Ginty fly higher and shorter.

In our informal test conducted on the Norman Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif., they proved to be

ideal for shots to small greens (or sections of large greens).

In fact, all four of the testers fell in love with this blast from the past. The Ginty proved to be more versatile from bad lies than any of the all-metal clubs we had in our arsenal. Escaping from heavy grass is a Ginty specialty.

“The wood on top is so light that the center of gravity (of the club) is below the middle of the ball,” Just said.

Thompson, the father of the Ginty, was a colorful character who concocted his club after watching the keel of a boat cut through the water.

He designed a laminated wooden clubhead with a hunk of zinc on the bottom. He used a 7-wood loft, combining it with a 4-wood length.

The Ginty was the first trouble club that had enough weight on the sole (and, because of this, a center of gravity that was low enough) to liberate a golf ball from virtually any sort of bad lie.

Other trouble clubs joined the parade, the best of which was the Cobra Baffler in 1975. The Baffler name still is used by Cobra, although the club has morphed into an all-metal utility wood.

In the early 1990s, Thompson considered suing Callaway Golf over its Warbird sole, which bore a striking resemblance to the sole of the Ginty. After Thompson’s death in 1995, Callaway wasted little time in purchasing the Ginty trademark and patent from the Thompson estate.

Louisville Golf, the world’s largest manufacturer and seller of wooden-headed golf clubs, is allowed to sell all of its remaining Gintys. That’s it. (Mike Just said he expects the company’s inventory to run out sometime within the next two years.)

Louisville Golf also dates to the 1970s. It was founded by the Elmore Just in 1974; he died in 2001, but his four brothers still work at the company, which has its own version of the Ginty. Called the Niblick, it has a similar center of gravity and is available all the way up to a 15-wood.

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