The History Behind the First Golf Club Design
Golf is one of the oldest games in human history. In fact, people have been hitting balls with clubs for such a long time that the true facts about the origin of the game are lost in history. Generally, it is believed that golf originated among the aristocracy of Scotland in the early 1400’s. The game then spread to other parts of the world to become what it is known as today.
As any other object that has been around for so many years, the golf club has undergone a number of evolutionary changes. So much so that it may be entirely impossible to recognize the first golf club design.
In the beginning, there was no set design for the clubs used by players. Often, the players made the clubs themselves using whatever material was available. However, this soon changed as the players learned to rely on craftsmen to make the golf clubs.
In 1502, King James IV of Scotland had his own set of clubs made. William Mayne, who was a bow maker, was commissioned to be the Royal Club Maker. The set at the time consisted of play clubs, fairway clubs, spoons, ‘niblicks’ and a putting cleek.
Initially, the club heads were made of beech and holly trees. Not only was wood much easier to carve, it was also quite soft and would not damage the leather golf balls stuffed with feathers that were used. The shafts, on the other hand, were made from ash or hazel. However, because the clubs were not made to be that durable, it was almost always expected that one club would break during each round. The cost of making golf clubs, on the other hand, was so high that golf was only reserved for the members of the elite society - until the beginning of industrialization in 1760.
In 1848, the feathery golf balls were replaced with the hard rubber gutta-percha ball. As a result, players did not have to worry about damaging the golf balls anymore. This saw the evolution of the golf clubs into clubs that had iron heads. These were used for making shorter high-trajectory shots while the wooden clubs were used to make longer low-trajectory shots.
All golf clubs had wooden shafts regardless of whether the club head was made of iron or wood. Until the early 1900's, there were no golf clubs that were manufactured with steel shafts. The first of such clubs was manufactured in 1920 in the United States. A.C.Link patented this design in 1926 – which is the patent blueprint art that you see available here.
Around the same time, the modern-day numbering system of golf clubs was introduced. Wooden clubs were assigned a number between 1 and 5 while steel clubs were assigned a number between 2 and 9. The number indicated the inclination of the surface of the striking face.
Over the years, the design of the golf club has further evolved into what we see today. But essentially, the A.C. Link patented design is the modern golf club we know and love.