Golf Clubs Today
In ages past, the tools of the golf trade were made of wood and stone. The first golfers used sticks of hickory and oak to hit rounded stones picked up along the seashores of Scotland. Later, metals were added to make the head of the club last longer, while golf ball construction progressed to leather pouches stuffed with feathers. Eventually the golf ball was made from a rubber-like substance called gutta percha. As technology and scientific knowledge increased, golfers were able to enjoy better golf clubs, using steel and aluminium. In the past couple of decades, the best "sticks" have been made with titanium, beryllium, graphite and other "space age" combinations. An overview of the club-making process would cover 400 or 500 years, from archery craftsmen pressed into service as the first makers of golf clubs to the billion-dollar global industry of clubs today. Golfers have gained distance and control from the exact science that is club manufacturing in the 21st century. Today, few golfers, if any, use clubs that contain wood. In fact, the longest clubs in the golf bag, used for hitting the ball from the tee and for longer shots from the fairway, were called "woods" because the head of the club was fashioned from persimmon, maple or another very hard wood.
Professionals and amateurs alike now use "drivers" and "fairway" clubs that have metal heads (titanium is quite popular). While still called "woods" by golfers and announcers, these clubs are not only made with different materials, the hitting area is larger. With more attention to the aerodynamics, club heads have also assumed a variety of shapes, all intended to increase efficiency and distance. Nearly all golf clubs today have a "head" that is separate from the shaft, unlike the very early clubs fashioned from one piece of wood. But it didn't take too many years before club makers discovered that putting a metal head or blade at the end of a wood shaft resulted in the best performance and longevity. Once connected with glues and fishing twine, the head and shaft are now often press fitted together. The combinations for custom-made drivers and fairway clubs are almost unlimited. As recently as the early 1900s, clubs were know by names such as "spoon" for shorter shots and longnose, for hitting from the tee (driving). There were wedges, first called niblicks, and there was a club called the cleek, used for putting or rolling the ball. It would be safe to say that this has all changed.
Most golfers use irons, which are metal, blade-like clubs set at different angles (depending on the distance needed). golf clubs today are identified by number, with the smaller number indicating a longer-shafted club with less loft (for more distance). There are special wedges for sand play and for hitting shorts shots of various distance. These clubs are generally the shorter clubs in the bag and some are custom made for a specific golfer. In the past few decades, most professionals and amateurs have used a set of clubs, which, for tournament purposes, can only include 14 clubs. While professionals use sets of clubs provided by the major manufacturers (Wilson, Callaway, Spalding, Mizuno, Yonex, etc.) amateurs buy similar sets from various retail and wholesale sources. Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the greatest golfer in history, was a long-time user of Macgregor clubs, and even had his own line of signature clubs called "Golden Bear." Tiger Woods, who is currently challenging Nicklaus' records, gets his golf equipment from Nike, one of the largest sports conglomerates in the world. When it comes to improving the game of golf, players will try nearly anything. One of the more popular, and successful, items to come along in recent years is the "hybrid" designed to hit the ball like a traditional iron but with a low centre of gravity similar to a driver or fairway wood. Most professionals now carry a hybrid club for particular situations. Simply put, golf clubs have come a long way from the origin of a hickory stick.