“DID YOU KNOW”
While on the Wilson staff, Sam Snead played with an Izett driver for more than 30 years!
When Sam Snead first ventured out to play some tournaments on the PGA Tour, he could drive a golf ball so far, he even amazed the touring professionals. But where it ended up was quite often a problem.
With fall’s arrival in 1936, a 24-year-old Snead decided to give the PGA winter tour a shot. The winter tour began at Pinehurst that year with the PGA Championship being played in November. Not being a PGA member yet, Snead was not eligible for the PGA Championship. The next stop was the Augusta Open, then the Miami Open and Nassau Open. Snead cashed once, a $100 check for a 16th place tie at Miami. (That year there was an Augusta Open at the Augusta CC and Forest Hills CC, as well as the Masters at Augusta National GC in April.)
After Christmas, Snead headed to California with Johnny Bulla for the west coast swing. Preparing for the Los Angeles Open, Snead met up with Henry Picard on the practice field. Picard mentioned that he had heard Snead was having problems with his driver. Picard told Snead that with his power he needed a driver with a stiffer shaft. Picard went to his car and returned with a driver for Snead to try.
Snead hit three drives and right then he knew that was the driver for him. It was an Izett driver that Ardmore, Pennsylvania club maker George Izett had made for Picard. The club had eight degrees of loft and a stiff shaft that weighed five ounces. The driver weighed fourteen and one-half ounces. When Snead asked Picard how much he wanted for the driver, Picard said five-fifty ($5.50). Snead later said that he would have paid more.
With his new Izett driver Snead finished sixth at LA winning $400. The next week he won the Oakland Open and picked up another $1,200. Snead won four more times that year and ended up second on the money list with $10,243.73. When his one-year contract with Dunlap expired that year he left Dunlap and signed a contract with Wilson Sporting Goods.
George Izett was born in Scotland and grew up playing golf on the Children’s Course at the Gullane Golf Course. He came to the United States in 1928 to work as a clubmaker at Merion Golf Club. When it came to making golf clubs Izett was a master craftsman. In 1930 when Bobby Jones was completing his Grand Slam, the insert in the face of his driver had cracked during his semifinal match. That evening Izett put a new insert in the driver. Jones won.
For the public to think Snead was playing with a Wilson driver, the driver was shipped to Izett with a Wilson soleplate and a Wilson decal for the crown. Due to the differences in the soleplates, George had to do some carving to make it fit properly.
For more than 30 years Snead played most of his tournament golf with that Izett driver, winning more than 80 times on the PGA Tour, including seven majors.