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Owner of more than 17,000 wooden clubs plays in Hickory Stick Golf Tournament

By Taylor Mitchell
March 16, 2014 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated March 15, 2014 at 10:16 p.m.

Ryan Galloway, 28, of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada,  takes a break on the second hole at The Club at Colony Creek at the Hickory Stick Open Tournament. Galloway was part of a 12-man Canadian team that came to Victoria for the tournament.

If you have an antique, wooden club that you would like to know the history of, Max Hill is your guy.

"I have so many books that no matter what antique club it is, I can probably find something on it," Hill said. "Who made it, when it was made and any other history with it."

The books have come in handy, as Hill, 74, worked to acquire more than 17,000 wooden golf clubs.

Hill began collecting wooden clubs 30 years ago when he and his wife went to New England for a golfing vacation.

"And it rained every single stinking day," Hill said.

Fortunately, it didn't rain enough to stop Hill and the rest of the golfers at Sunday's Hickory Stick Open Tournament at The Club at Colony Creek. Hill, who made the trip from his home in Austin, was also at Colony Creek on Saturday for the hickory stick demonstration.

But when it rained on his golf vacation in New England, Hill, who loves wooden antiques, began visiting antique stores, where he stumbled upon 15 wooden shaft golf clubs.

"On the way back, we had stopped atHilton Head (South Carolina), and the bag had disintegrated that the clubs were in," Hill said. "So I put them in my golf bag, and the guy at Hilton Head, the pro out there, offered me $500 for one of those clubs."

Hill paid just $50 for all 15. Needless to say, he was hooked.

Hill began to give away the clubs, one by one, until he had just one left.

"The last one I gave to a newspaper guy who owned Thrifty Nickel," Hill recalled. "He says, 'It's your last one, so I'll run some ads for you.' Seventy-seven million people in the country saw my little ad that said I wanted to buy some golf clubs. It just went from there and took off."

A deal with Sharper Image before the company's bankruptcy in 2008 gave Hill the opportunity to purchase 10,000 antique wooden golf clubs.

However, it's not just about money for Hill when it comes to clubs. It's a love and passion that runs through him.

"I've learned how to fix them. I play with them. I play in tournaments all across the country and world," Hill, who also owned a golf museum for 10 years, said. " I just had some old stuff - ashtrays, trophies, books, balls and anything you can relate to golf. It just got in my blood, and I couldn't get it out."



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