“Open Championship Month” continues, as host Mitch Laurance welcomes a legendary figure in the world of golf, club maker Jack Wullkotte to “Golf Connections” on TheGolfDirector.com.
Mitch opens the show with Billy Mac’s great “Old Course” from his “Tee It Up” CD, and thanks Billy and the other partners of “Open Championship Month” , the Golf History with Peter Alliss iPad app (golfhistoryapp.com), Dottie Pepper and her BogeyTeesOff.com initiative, and the Myrtle Beach Golf App, to be found on iTunes and the Google Play Store.
Mitch then gives some history of club making at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, site of this year’s Open, and connects listeners to the club makers of old and the first recording of custom club making. He then introduces Jack Wullkotte, club maker for World Golf Hall of Famer and 18x Major Champion Jack Nicklaus during much of his career, as well as other major champions like Curtis Strange, Nick Price, and Dottie Pepper.
Mitch opens the discussion by asking about Jack’s history in the game as a child, and Jack details his life in golf, first as a kid at 10 years of age as a caddy, then as a terrific amateur player who became club champion at 15. He moves on to his position as an asst. pro in Ohio, and finally his move to the iconic Macgregor Golf Company in 1947 as a club repairer and maker. Listen as Jack talks about the golfers he started learning from, men like Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret (“I was 17 years old, I wasn’t that impressed”!). Jack discusses how he learned the craft of club making, working first on his own clubs, then moving on to other’s.
Mitch then asks about the day Jack’s life changed. He details the day in 1962 when Jack Nicklaus’ 6 iron arrived at the Macgregor plant, needing to be repaired quickly for Mr. Nicklaus, who had broken it earlier that week in Florida. One of the fascinating stories you’ll hear is how Jack, being the only one in the factory, gave up vacation time, charged $32 for the repair, and sent it back on its way. That would become the basis for a relationship that included working on numerous clubs for Mr. Nicklaus, including Jack W.’s specialty, working on Mr. Nicklaus’ leather grips.
Jack then details his relationship with Mr. Nicklaus, how he supervised the crafting of all of his clubs while at Macgregor, and then extended that custom work from 1974 on when he went to work specifically for Mr. Nicklaus at Golden Bear. He details the process of making and testing clubs with Mr. Nicklaus (including a great story about making 25 persimmon headed woods for him), and how the relationship between 2 perfectionists connected them.
Mitch then asks Jack about being considered a club maker in the tradition of Old Tom Morris, Tom Stewart and others, and Jack talks about how he feels to be thought of in the same league. Jack discusses his thoughts on the iconic club makers of old. He then talks about the process of making clubs for specific events, like The Open or The Masters, and Jack details that process. They talk about Jack’s part in the process of creation of the Macgregor Response putter that helped Jack N. win The Masters in 1986, which is a great inside look at that process.
Mitch then asks about Jack’s current work at the Club Makers Golf Shop in North Palm Beach, and about which club he’s most proud of during his career. He talks about his work with Macgregor making persimmon headed woods based on the older iconic clubs, and his connections to the current Louisville Golf family, Elmore and Mike Just (louisvillegolf.com) and the tradition of club making. The connection to Elmore Just, who nominated Jack for the Professional Club Makers Hall of Fame, is talked about, and how Jack passed along his club making machinery to Mike Just.
Mitch thanks Jack for his generous time, and reminds listeners that Golf Connections is produced and broadcast by the Zeus Radio Network for TheGolfDirector.com.