What Materials Were Golf Clubs Made With Originally?

Golf is one of the most interesting sports that you can play. It is also simple and involves only a few pieces of equipment for you to play. One of the most important that you need to have in order to play is a golf club, which is used to strike the ball. It features a long shaft with a grip on one end and a weighted head on the other end. The head of the golf club is attached sideways and at a sharp angle to the shaft. The striking face of the head is inclined to provide the ball a specific amount of upward trajectory. In a game of golf, a player is allowed to carry a maximum of 14 different clubs, and each of those is designed for a particular situation during the game. 

Since the game of golf was introduced, players have continuously tried to improve their equipment. Before, clubs were carved by the golfer themselves, and they were made typically out of wood. Soon, they turned to craftsmen to produce higher-quality equipment. If you are wondering what resources were utilized in producing golf clubs before, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you more information about the original golf club materials.

The Evolution of Golf Clubs

The first record of custom-built golf clubs was by King James IV of Scotland. He employed a bow-maker named William Mayne to create a set of clubs for him and made him the Royal Club Maker. 

Back in the 1500s, a set of clubs included a set of play clubs, longnose for driving, fairway club or grass driver for medium range, spoon for short shots, niblicks, and a putting cleek. All of these were made up of wood, with the shafts made from ash or hazel. The club heads, on the other hand, were made from tougher wood such as beech, pear, or apple. The club head would be attached to the shaft with a splint and then bound with a strap made of leather. 

In 1618, with the introduction of “featherie” golf balls, golf clubs continued to be made with wooden heads. However, iron was forged into the head due to the delicacy of the featheries.  Wooden clubs back then were expensive because of the time and effort that were spent making them, and they were also prone to break. With this high cost, the game of golf became exclusive to the higher class. 

Club-makers experimented with various materials on the clubface, like metal, leather, bone fragments, and other materials, to prevent breakage and increase distance. When 1750 came, the first clubheads that were made of iron started to emerge from local blacksmith shops. These were used for niblicks or wedges. A club-maker from Scotland named Robert Forgan began to use imported hickory from America to create club shafts in 1826. This became the standard wood of choice for club-makers because of its better durability and availability. 

The “guttie” ball was introduced in 1848 by Rev. Adam Paterson. This made the long noses or drivers obsolete. Bulgers were developed, and these replaced long noses which had bulging heads which resembled modern woods. In the 1870s, drop forging techniques factories were able to mass-produce iron club heads, making them more consistent, lighter, and better compared to the blacksmith ones. 

Golf Clubs in the Modern Times

golf clubs in a bag

When 1900 came, persimmon became the material of choice for making wooden club heads, which were also imported from America. In 1908, it was revealed that grooves on the clubface could increase backspin and create more distance.

The 1900s saw a lot of changes and experimentations in the design of the golf club. In 1925, the steel shaft was introduced in the United States, even though blacksmiths have experimented with them since the late 1890s. The R&A, which is the governing body of the game of golf, finally legalized the use of steel-shafted clubs after the Prince of Wales used them on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1929. This provided greater accuracy and durability. 

It was common for golf players to carry 20 to 30 clubs in their bags up until 1939. But with the advancement of the steel-shafted clubs, the R&A introduced the 14-club rule in 1939, limiting the players to only be allowed to carry 14 clubs. Also, the traditional names for clubs, such as spoons and niblicks, were replaced by the standard numbering system that is still used today. 

In the next few decades, there was little development. After World War II, the development of golf clubs became influenced by research into synthetic and composite materials. After that, in the 1960s, fiberglass shafts were attempted to be made but were unsuccessful. In 1963, the casting method of manufacturing club heads was invented. This made golf clubs more affordable. 

In the 1970s, the Ping Putter was invented by Karsten Solheim. It had more weight at the heel and toe, allowing golfers to putt straighter. Then, the graphite shaft was invented in 1973, which gave more rigidity, lightness, and strength compared to steel shafts. These are made with various materials to improve performance, like boron to decrease twisting. 

Golf Clubs in the 1990s to the Present Time

The first company to create metal club-headed woods was Taylor-Made. Its popularity over persimmon clubheads did not become productive until 1991 when Callaway introduced the Big Bertha. It was a driver that featured an oversized metal club head, which later on became the trend for club manufacturers. 

In the early 2000s, hybrid clubs were made. These are a combination between wood and iron. These emerged as an alternative to the longer irons that are harder to hit. These hybrid clubs are becoming more popular, particularly for golfers who have a slower swing, including seniors and women.

The use of titanium clubheads mixed with graphite shafts was the latest trend in woods. There are still new designs emerging every once in a while. However, the clubhead size for drivers is only limited to 460cc. There are also adjustable drivers today, wherein the golfer can adjust the weight of their driver. This way, hitting a draw or fade can be made easily, depending on how it is set.

Conclusion

It is quite interesting to learn that golfers people relied on clubs that were solely made from wood. At the present time, there are various options that people can choose from when it comes to the material of their golf clubs. The golfer has truly evolved from making their own golf clubs from wood to having them manufactured today using the most advanced technology. Today, golf clubs can be easily acquired, and players also have the ability to personalize each of them according to their individual needs. We hope this post helped you learn more about the materials that were originally used to make golf clubs.