Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

The Evolution of Hickory Sticks According To A Grateful Golfer

By admin Jun25,2024

I bet you are wondering what the heck is going on in the world of golf! I find it interesting to look back our roots to understand how or at least how our modern clubs were developed. My friend Lorne, President of the Golf Historical Society of Canada, is a true historian of golf. He imparts his knowledge about this great sport to anyone who is willing to listen and of course, I am a willing listener. After several discussions with Lorne, I realize that innovation in golf back in the early 1900’s was driven by several factors, but one stands out in my mind: supply and demand!

Before I delve in to the main topic of my article, I thought it would be fun to compare the original names for golf clubs with the modern monikers.

CLUB MONIKERS: THEN AND NOW
Modern Old
1 Wood Driver
2 Wood Brassie
3 Wood Spoon
4 Wood Wooden Cleek
1 Iron Driving Iron
2 Iron Mid Iron
3 Iron Mid Mashie
4 Iron Mashie Iron
5 Iron Mashie
6 Iron Spade Mashie
7 Iron Mashie Niblick
8 Iron Lofting Iron
9 Iron Niblick
Putter Putting Cleek

Source: https://golfcollege.edu/evolution-golf-club/

As many of you know, golf clubs were made of wood for the longest time. Wooden shafts were common place because the ability of manufactures to use metal was not up to the exacting standards required by golfers. Hence, it was a real honour to be considered an elite golf club maker. I am not surprised because I have a 100 year old set and they are still as functional as the day they were manufactured.

Why did the golf industry transition to steel shafted clubs if these amazing clubs were so popular? Great question!

“The first few decades of the 1900’s saw a lot of experimentation and innovation in the club design. Around 1925 the steel shaft was introduced in the United States, although blacksmiths had experimented with them since the late 1890’s. The R&A, named from The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, is the governing body of the game of golf. The R&A finally legalized the use of steel shafted clubs after the Prince of Wales used them on the Old Course at St Andrews in 1929. The steel shaft provided for greater accuracy and durability. In 1931, after the R&A banned concave-faced wedges, Gene Sarazen invented the modern sand wedge which had a straight face and added bounce.” (Source: https://golfcollege.edu/evolution-golf-club/)

Many articles talk about the advancement in technology in order to make steel shafted clubs and of course this is true. However, my friend Lorne also leans towards the demand for quality hickory to make golf clubs in the early 1900s. Golf exploded in popularity around that time and it was difficult to keep up with the demand because of the cost and time to manufacture hickory shafted clubs. So, the transition to steel due seemed logical.

Of course there was no single reason for the innovation of the golf clubs. However, I do lean towards the supply and demand challenges of obtaining quality hickory as an prime contributing factor. Regardless, I enjoy playing with hickory golf clubs. It is fun to feel how players like Harry Vardon and Old Tom Morris felt when playing. I am grateful to the GHSC of introducing my to playing hickory golf clubs and look forward to many more years of great times.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

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