You've never seen this driver before and the chances are extreme that you never will again. This incredible, well made club is from the Fred X Fry collection. Fry, the dean of American golf club collectors, was busy building his collection forty years before the Golf Collectors Society (now The Golf Heritage Society) was formed by two collectors in 1970. Collecting with great passion, Fry amassed around 450 clubs, mostly putters. He cataloged, displayed, and cherished his treasures. A number of national magazines ran articles about his collection of putters between 1936 and 1963. (For more on Fry, and to view some of the articles, Click Here
Fry acquired some incredible clubs, one of which is now being offered here. While Fry kept an inventory page for every putter in his collection, he did not create a page for any woods or irons that he acquired, as he wasn't really looking hard for those. Nevertheless, he did acquire a few. With nothing from Fry to tell us about this club, one is left to figure out its purpose. Having spent a great deal of time with this club, the auctioneer believes it was designed with the hope of increasing the kick the shaft gave the head at impact—thereby increasing the clubhead speed beyond what was provided by an ordinary driver.
To begin with, this club was made with a hinge 3/4ths of the way down the shaft. A simple hinge in this location would allow for extreme clubhead movement when swinging through the ball, and that would make it far too difficult to time the swing to make consistently solid ball contact. The Medicus swing training clubs use a basic hinge and nothing else, but those clubs, because they are a challenge to swing correctly, were devised as training devices. So, to make this club offered here more practical, the long steel rod or "brace" was included.
The rod extends roughly an equal distance of 12 inches above and below the center of the hinge. The top of the rod attaches directly to the shaft. The middle of the rod passes through a small hole in a pin used to secure the bottom of the hinge to the shaft below it. This hole in the pin serves as a kind of fulcrum (in tandem with the hinge) for the flexing rod when the club is swung. To additionally reduce the free-wheeling nature of a plain hinge, the base of the rod connects inside the head a little over an inch away from the centerline of the shaft inside the neck. Connecting the base of the rod towards the middle of the head and fixing the center of the rod next to the hing helped stabilize the hinge, so it would work more effectively by reducing the amount of its movement thereby keeping the clubhead under greater control.
Considering the above, the auctioneer believes the creator of this club was hoping to create a driver that would provide a major shaft kick at impact in an effort to help the golfer hit the ball further.
Its an ironic marriage—a shaft with a free wheeling hinge paired up
with a steel rod designed to reduce the amount of movement of the hinge—but was not without reason. Back in the days of no computers and zero technology to design and model golf clubs, the only way a clubmaker could find out if something would work (or not) was to build it and try it.
Stamped "Bill Wall" on the crown. This 43" driver is beautifully made. As shown in one of the accompanying images, there is a small piece of wood missing from one side of the shaft where it connects inside the hinge. But it does not affect the display or movement of the club. Overall, the club is in superb original condition top to bottom.