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Pinehurst #6 Persimmon Season

Jonathan R. Allen

The Greeks called persimmon fruit, “the wheat of Zeus” or “God’s pear.” This tree gets its name from “putchamin,” a phonetic version of the name the Algonquin Native Americans gave it. Thescientific name for the persimmon tree is “Diospyros Virginiana.” Persimmons are a tasty wild treat of Pinehurst. If you are lucky enough to have a persimmon tree in your yard, then now is the time to savor its fruit.

Persimmon trees produce edible, round, and orange when ripe fruit usually about the size of a table tennis ball, or perhaps a small tomato. Their size varies. In September and October at Pinehurst #6 you may find this green or orange fruit hanging from a tree branch or on the ground.

In early to mid-September our Pinehurst #6 persimmons tend to be green, but by late September you will see them begin to ripen by turning from green-purple to a bright orange color. Late September and primarily October is the peak time for harvesting

persimmons. I have observed for years from a persimmon tree in my yard that ripening varies season by season. Persimmon fruit ripening seems to depend on the summer and fall weather, temperature, or-who knows! This year I believe from my tree that our Pinehurst #6persimmons are ripening early, but there is still time to collect and enjoy them. You can find them into November. They can last into winter. Some sources claim that persimmons are best before the first frost.

When persimmons are green and unripe they will sour your mouth with an astringent or bitter taste. I will earnestly attest to that as I sampled a green persimmon before writing this article. YIKES! I also tried a ripe orange soft-mushy persimmon, and it was a mild, sweet, and tasty treat. YUM! Captain John Smith’s description of the taste of unripe and ripe persimmons is spot-on.

Persimmons are good for you. They are high in fiber, are sugary sweet, they have potassium, calcium, and Vitamin C. Persimmon trees draw all of these healthy things out of the sandy soil, sunlight, and rain of Pinehurst’s environment.

Wild animals such as raccoons or opossums will eat persimmons. In the dark of night, I’ve seen deer eating persimmons at a tree across the street from where I live. I observed recently that ripe persimmons on the ground in my yard were there in the evening but gone in the morning. Something got ‘em!

Persimmons have seeds. Know that before vigorously chomping your choppers down on one. One of my ripe orange persimmons had five seeds inside. Be aware that your dog might like to eat them and that persimmons can cause inflammation or obstruction of their intestines. This condition could cause the need for surgery. A caution: If you were to eat too many persimmons, especially unripe ones, then their fiber may cause you some digestive trouble and discomfort.

As a Greek poet once wrote, “observe due measure; moderation is best in all things.” The point is not to over-indulge in persimmons. Use common sense with persimmons, just as you should with all foods, then you and persimmons will get along fine. Wash persimmons before you eat or cook them. Persimmons can be prepared as most any fruit is. Go ahead, sample one or two ripe orange persimmons!

Persimmon trees have a bark that is alligator-like in appearance, it has a rough and tough checkerboard surface with lengthy narrow blocks, cracks, and openings. Their oblong leaves are often four to five inches in length and two to three inches wide. In the fall their leaves turn attractively from green to bright yellow, and then to orange to red. Persimmon trees can grow quite large, up to 30 to 80 feet in height and 20 to 35 feet wide. The ones I’ve seen here at Pinehurst #6 tend to be five to fifteen feet in height and 5 to 6 feet wide.

To produce persimmon fruit, it takes two to tango with persimmon trees-there are male and female trees. These trees may begin to bear fruit at 3 to 5 years of age and they might live as long as 60 years. Persimmon trees can grow in height each year by 12 to 24 inches, but it seems the ones at Pinehurst #6 grow at a much slower rate. They flower in the spring and until early summer. They grow best in sandy soil that is moist but also drains well. Persimmon trees like full sun to shady areas and handle hot, dry, and poor soil conditions well. They are sturdy trees with deep taproots which make it hard to transplant

them. Persimmon trees are considered ornamental but unfortunately, most will remove them from their home’s landscape. You are fortunate if you have a native North Carolina persimmon tree in your yard producing its delightful fruit.

Persimmon wood is part of golf’s history.

Once upon a time, golf club woods were actually made of wood. A solid block of persimmon was used for making the wooden heads. There were laminated maple heads too, but we’ll ignore that here. Leading golf club companies such as MacGregor, Wilson, Spalding, Walter Hagen, and the Ben Hogan Company all produced beautifully finished persimmon woods. They were the state of art of golf club-making and had both form and function.

Persimmon woods with a tight and straight grain, or ones with a tight semicircular grain, were prized among serious golfers. They were often customized by a skilled golf club technician working on and filing the malleable wood. They were excellent to play

with when their specifications were correct for a golfer. There were both high-quality persimmon woods and ones of lesser quality. Some golfers claimed their persimmon driver had a special perfection about it, but another identical driver of the same make and model was not exceptional. A golfer’s subjective feel for his driver was an important factor in the mystique of persimmon woods.

Before metal woods took over, prominent golfers who won major tournaments using persimmon woods include Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Billy Casper, and Arnold Palmer. Before them, golfers such as Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Ben Hogan won their championships playing persimmon woods.

The persimmon MacGregor Tourney Tommy Armour woods of the 1940s and 1950s were very popular. MacGregor had a line of woods named Eye-O-Matic because their insert colors were meant to help you align your eye to the club face and ball at address. These woods had inserts of a combination of colors. There were striped colored inserts such as: red-white-red, white-red-white, white-black-white, and other fancy designs. Some of these inserts looked like keyholes.

Persimmon wood is hard and strong, but it can also crack and suffer water damage. It's been used as a substitute for ebony and to make drumsticks, billiard cues, and longbows. Golf club manufacturers would soak and treat their persimmon golf wood heads with linseed oil to seal and protect them against water damage. These woods were called “Oil Hardened.” This author played a MacGregor Tourney Oil Hardened M 65 W Eye-O-Matic driver with a red-white-red insert, and then a Ben Hogan Oil Hardened persimmon driver with a solid red six-screw insert. These persimmon woods played as sweet for me as

the ripe persimmon fruit tastes. I thought they had a special perfection.

Now you can find persimmon golf woods at yard sales and they can be bought for a song. In good condition, they are still fine for play or practice. Compared to metal woods persimmon woods are unforgiving. Persimmon woods demand precision in your golf swing. Tiger Woods and other professional golfers have used persimmon drivers in practice to train and discipline their swings. Maybe you want to find a persimmon driver to help improve your golf swing.

Do you think eating persimmon fruit from your yard sounds like a peculiar thing to do? Please consider that there are many persimmon bread recipes found on the Internet. A Google search I made for “persimmon bread recipe” revealed about 1,630,000 results.

Persimmon trees grow naturally here at Pinehurst #6 and are considered to be ornamental. Their ripe orange fruit is edible and a sweet treat. Persimmon wood is rooted in golf’s history.

Persimmons are not small potatoes!

Some things never leave a person:

scent of the hair of one you love,

the texture of persimmons,

in your palm, the ripe weight.

...Li-Young Lee

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