Walt Disney World® Golf History – A Swinging Mickey Blast From The Past
Walt Disney World® Golf, operated by Arnold Palmer Golf Management, was pleased to recently become aware of some unique and very special golf clubs that date back to 1971, the first year of our operation.
Jim McCaskill, an original Walt Disney World® Cast Member from 1971, a Disney Partner for many decades and a long-time friend of Walt Disney World® Golf, is the current owner of the engraved Mickey Mouse logo golf clubs (also known as “Swinging Mickey”) pictured here. He was very kind in speaking with me, providing background on the clubs and how he came to acquire them.
In further exploring the history and background of these golf clubs at Walt Disney World® Golf, I had the pleasure to communicate with Mike Beaver, who was the Director of Golf Operations from 1978 to 1997, Charlie Harwell, who was the Manager of Golf Operations from 1976 to 1984 and Bobby West, who was the Director of Golf from 1972 to 1980. As with Jim, each of them were also very kind in being willing to spend some time on the phone with me, discussing their recollections of the early days of golf at the Walt Disney World® Resort. I honestly could have spent hours with each of them and I thank them all for their valuable time.
Each indicated that the Spalding Top Flite clubs were available for rental by Guests from the pro shops in the early days of Walt Disney World® Golf, with the Swinging Mickey logo clubs for a relatively short time. I also found out from Bobby, that Spalding manufactured Swinging Mickey logo drivers, in addition to the irons and he still has one! I hope to have a photo of it for a future post for you!
Spalding was an early sponsor of Walt Disney World® Golf and the Walt Disney World® Golf Classic and provided the rental golf equipment made available to Guests in those early years. The Swinging Mickey engraved logo made these clubs very unique and added Disney branding and touch to the golfing experience for those that used them, although at the time, there was no consideration that they might eventually become collectible items, as many Disney character logo items are today.
As the clubs aged through frequent rental use, and were no longer fit for rental by our Guests, they would be sold as used equipment, primarily to Cast Members, and be replaced by new equipment and models. After the 1971 season, perhaps as few as 15 sets of the Swinging Mickey logo rental clubs were made available for purchase to Cast Members and Jim purchased a set in 1972.
These initial club sets were later replaced by then, newer Executive models of Spalding clubs, although the Swinging Mickey logo was not engraved on future models. The Spalding Executive models were later replaced by Titleist clubs as golf equipment companies evolved and Walt Disney World® Golf contracted with different equipment suppliers for our rental equipment, to provide the latest technology to our Guests.
Today, we make the latest generations of TaylorMade Golf equipment available in our pro shops for rental use by our Guests and also offer Swinging Mickey custom grind wedges by Callaway, available for order via our pro shops. The Callaway wedges are the first and only golf clubs to bear the Swinging Mickey logo since the Spalding equipment in the early 1970’s.
We look forward to welcoming you to the “Happiest Place on TURF!”