So after I pulled out the old 1952 Powerbilt’s a few weeks ago and gave them some range time I decided maybe I should pull a few of my sets of differing flexes and eras and give them some head to head swings on the range with whichever feels the best going in the bag for this weekends round. This is completely unscientific and just for fun but wanted to swing these clubs one after another and see how they feel and perform. Let‘s meet the contestants.
1952 Powerbilt Model 500 woods with True Temper Dynamic Stiff shafts
Circa 1958-60 Stan Thompson woods with TT Pro Fit stiff shafts
1962 Wilson Staff persimmon woods with Wilson Staff regular flex shafts
1969 Powerbilt Model 807 woods with Super Action regular flex shafts
I decided to hit the 4-wood (5-wood for the 1969 Powerbilt’s as it has a comparable loft to the earlier era 4-woods) and the drivers of each set before moving on to the next set. I started with the earliest and worked up to the most modern.
First up was the 1952 Powerbilt Model 500 persimmon woods.
These things are beasts. With some pretty boardy feeling shafts and a swingweight of D6, just giving them some practice swings you realize these are for big boys. The heavy feel slowed down my swing and with the 4-wood I was hitting low line drives that carried about 175 yards. Couldn’t get these into a higher flight no matter where I addressed the ball in my stance.
Then it was time to hit the driver. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever hit any other club that is as satisfying as this driver. The impact is heavy. The head feels very dense and even a range ball feels like a marshmallow when struck. The ball flew a low flight but straight, not much left or right variance. Unfortunately the best I could muster was about 200 yards of carry, and that was on perfect strikes. I just don’t have the swing speed for these monsters but what a lovely feeling.
Next was the Stan Thompson’s. First impressions are these are a gorgeous set of woods. The blonde finish with the red insert looks really attractive as do the hosel caps in place of standard whipping. The TT Pro Fit shaft felt slightly less stiff than the Dynamic shafts of the ‘52 Powerbilt’s but still pretty stout.
The 4-wood flew well with a penetrating trajectory and carried about 190 yards but as I’ve felt with Pro Fit shafts before, be they regular or stiff flex, they seem to lack a kick. The ball seems to get out a good ways but then seemingly fall out of the sky. I never seem to get much roll out with Pro Fit shafts.
The same thing with the Thompson driver, the net at the end of the range was 200 yards out and I was hitting about 15 feet up into the netting but it seemed the velocity was all but gone once it reached it. I suspect the roll out wouldn’t have been too much.
I did have a few misses to right with the driver. The feel of both the driver and 4-wood was nice though not as satisfying as with the ‘52 Powerbilt.
Next up, the 1963 Wilson Staff persimmons.
I bought this set when I picked another collector as I was intrigued by a set of Wilson persimmons from that time period. Wilson was well known for their Strata-bloc laminate woods and probably sold them 50-1 against their persimmons. By 1963 Wilson was no longer using the Pro Fit shaft and had developed their own Wilson Staff shaft.
Picking up the 4-wood and giving it a few swings it was easy to see I was now swinging a regular flex shaft. Much more shaft bend when waggling the club. I’ve been playing these clubs the last 6 weeks or so and while I have enjoyed the length with them, any deviation from my rhythm usually results in quite a hook.
The 4-wood was easily longer than the Thompson’s with a high ball flight and hitting the bottom of the netting. I figure it was carrying 205 or so with a great trajectory for landing softly on approach shots.
The driver took off high and long. When hit perfect these were clearing the net at the end of the range. Unfortunately timing with this driver is a must as too quick a tempo caused many snap hooks. While it is capable of long and straight a 180 yard hump-back hook is easily achieved. This driver is long though. I carried the creek on #2 at my club, a 230 carry, the last time out. Only other persimmon club I’d previously carried the creek with was my more modern Cleveland Classic TC-15 with graphite shaft.
If my tempo is really on then these Wilson Staffs are a joy but things can quickly go downhill.
Finally it was time for the 1969 Powerbilt 807 woods. These have “Super Action” steel shafts which are regular flex.
My expectations for these clubs wasn’t too great. I picked them up because they were all original without having been refinished but my classic club attraction is mostly towards 1950’s era clubs.
Being late 1960’s this set is 1,3,4,5 instead of 1-4 like the other sets. The 5-wood measures 20* like the other sets 4-woods.
The shafts feel very whippy and I felt for sure I’d be spraying shots all over the place with them. Well these things are long and high! The ball took off super high and carried high into the net. Nothing I could do to bring the flight down if I wanted to. They just went high and long. Driver, same thing. Every swing the ball jumped off the face high into the air.
The trajectory was so high but every swing was clearing the net at the end of the range. I’m sure roll out wouldn’t be to great but the length these went in the air was incredible. Not only that, it was straight. While these shafts felt lighter and weaker than the Wilson’s, the ball just went straight. No hooks at all with these. What a pleasant surprise for a set of clubs that didn’t have high expectations.
So, after my hour hitting four different sets of woods I’ve decided to stick the 1968 Powerbilt’s in the bag. While not the most satisfying feel out of the sets the results were there. I also realized that my time has passed playing heavier, stiff flex shafts. The 1952 Powerbilt’s feel like nothing else but unfortunately I don’t have the juice to maximize those beautiful chunks of wood.