The Ajay – a rare pitching wedge
Back in ’75, um, 1975 that is, I was wandering through Eaton’s department store’s sporting goods section when I spotted them. At the time they were not rare golf clubs but I found the Ajay Hawk golf set. 1, 3 and 5 persimmon woods, 3 iron through pitching wedge. Price: $299.99.
I had never seen clubs designed like this before, cast steel, cavity back, with extreme offset.
They weren’t shiny chromed steel like most clubs of the day, but a nice matte finish with a shiny gold weighted insert out near the toe of each iron with the imprint of a hawk in full flight stamped into each insert. You won’t see them on these because it has worn out over the years.
It didn’t matter to me that I had never seen this brand before, these clubs looked and felt great.
They were displayed in an open cardboard display so I could remove each club, give a few waggles and put it back and try another. I spent as much time as I wanted to check them out with no sales pressure as Eaton’s had very little staff, especially in the sporting goods department.
I had to have these clubs.
When I got them home I remember pulling my old Spalding “First Flight” clubs out my bag and replacing them with my new Ajays.
The effect they had on my game was incredible and immediate. Probably improving my game by 10 shots a round. I especially fell in love with the pitching wedge. I could hit anything with it inside 150 yards. Including blasts from the sand with good check and high lob shots over trees onto the green with the face laid flat. I became very confident using a bump and run from around the green while everyone else was trying to pitch just short of the flag hoping it got there or stopped on time.
So that was 1975, a long time ago, and golf clubs don’t last forever.
Over the years I’ve purchased various sets of irons, some I liked, some not so much but I’m pretty happy with what I have now.
Even though I had new sets of irons in my bag I would take the pitching wedge out of the set and replace it with my “go to” Ajay Hawk PW. It has always seemed that my game was to get the ball near the green and then get up and down with this old club.
I re-gripped it at least 5 times, broke the shaft trying to hit around a tree and had the head fall off more than once, only to repair it and get it back in the bag before the next round.
Two years ago, in 2014, the head came off again, I drilled out the old epoxy and reset it on the shaft, but this time the bond wouldn’t take…I think the steel alloy in the hosel was fatigued so much by being drilled out so many times it just would not bond anymore.
(The “hosel” is the place on a golf club where the shaft is connected to the clubhead)
The end of an era…so it seemed.
I checked online for a new (used) one and nothing came up anywhere so I put my Titleist pitching wedge (PW) in my bag to replace the “hawk”…..but it was never the same. I went to 3 Vokey wedges to take care of 140 yards and in but the touch and feel just wasn’t the same, nor was my scoring around the green.
About 3 months ago I thought I would check online again just in case, and there they were, on eBay, in upstate NY, the entire set of Ajay” irons, slightly used (pictured at the top) and in way better condition than the ones that I reluctantly retired many years back. I didn’t want the whole set though, just the pitching wedge, so I emailed the guy selling them asking if he would part with just the wedge, but he never replied.
So I bought the set…for $30.00 plus 12 dollars shipping, a week later they arrived. They looked like they had been in a corner of some dusty garage for about 10 years. The dirt was caked on and had to be soaked and scrubbed with a wire brush to clean them up.
Once they were cleaned I could see that these clubs were just slightly used and in a very good condition other than the “hawk” sticker had worn off or peeled off all the clubs.
Now with this wedge back in my bag, my bump and run game is starting to return and hopefully, I will be stealing a few more pars per round like the good old days.