Abe Mitchell – a long hitter with hickory

Abe Mitchell, who came close to winning the Open a few times in the 1920s and played in the 1929, 1931 and 1933 Ryder Cup matches, had the fastest clubhead speed I have ever seen. It was like a flash of lightning, despite the fact that he was playing with hickory shafts and used a 15.5-ounce driver (very much heavier than the clubs used today).

Abe had spent some time in Canada lumberjacking in his early years and had developed massive forearms and strong hands. He never hit the ball higher than a double-decker bus. It pitched about 200 yards but then seemed to run for another 200.

Despite his strength, he was a gentle character and this was perhaps the reason that he did not win more than he did.

His most important victory was the 1919 “Professional Golfer’s Championship” which was held at St. Andrews to celebrate victory in the First World War. The first 60 players who finished in the 1914 Open were invited to compete. He also won the professional Matchplay Championship three times.

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