Obsolete golf clubs

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Early golf clubs were all made of wood. They were hand-crafted, often by the players themselves, and had no standard shape or form. As the sport of golf developed, a standard set of clubs began to take shape, with different clubs being fashioned to perform different tasks and hit various types of shot. Later, as more malleable iron became widely used for shorter range clubs, an even wider variety of clubs became available.

While many of the clubs manufactured between 1901 and 1935 came from Scotland, more and more started coming from larger US manufacturers.

These early clubs had hickory shafts and wrapped leather grips. To secure the joins both between the shaft and the head of the club, as well as between the grip and the shaft, whipping of black, waxed linen thread was used. Pre-1900 clubs (smooth-faced gutty era) used 7-ply thread. Clubs from the era 1900 to 1935 required 4-ply thread.

From 1924 golf clubs started to be manufactured with steel shafts, pyratone shafts, aluminum shafts, and fiberglass or resin shafts; many of them were given a wood-look coating.


Wooden clubs generally had a metal base-plate and were made heavier with a lead-insert into the back of the head; often the face of the club had insert to reduce the wear from impact on the wood.

They were:

  • Play club: Driver
  • Brassie: so called because the base-plate was of brass; equivalent to a 3-Wood[1]
  • Spoon: Higher-lofted wood; equivalent to a 5-Wood
  • Baffing spoon or a Baffy: Approach wood; equivalent to a 7-Wood

These were made of wood and were used until being replaced by the numbered system used today.


They were:

  • Driving iron: 1 Iron
  • Cleek: 2 Iron
  • Mid mashie: 3 Iron
  • Mashie iron: 4 Iron
  • Mashie: 5 Iron
  • Spade mashie: 6 Iron
  • Mashie niblick: 7 Iron
  • Pitching niblick: 8 Iron
  • Niblick: 9 Iron
  • Jigger: Very low lofted iron, shortened shaft - similar to a modern 'chipper'[2]

The mashie niblick was not a wedge.

The traditional set of irons was invented by Archibald Barrie and were used from 1903 up until about the 1940s. The introduction of the standardized numbered iron set produced by the Spalding Sporting Goods Company in the early 1930s caused the traditional set of irons to gradually give way to numbered convention.

The traditional irons varied greatly in loft (+/- 5 degrees). The shape of the head determined some of the playing characteristics of the club; most traditional heads were roughly egg-shaped.

Whilst all of these clubs are described here as 'obsolete', over recent years there has been a revival of interest amongst groups of players continuing their use.

Sabbath sticks[edit]

Sunday sticks or sabbath sticks were the golf enthusiasts' answer to the Church of Scotland's discouraging golfing on Sundays. Clubs were disguised as walking sticks, the club head comfortably fitting in the palm of the golfer's hand, until feeling unobserved, the stick was reversed and a few strokes were played.[3]


  1. ^ In the UK in the 1960's, it was argued that the 2-Wood was introduced for use with the larger 'American' ball on the lusher American fairways.
  2. ^ Refer to page Golf club
  3. ^ MacKenzie, Douglas. "Perth: Golf on Sundays". Tee Time Scotland. Archived from the original on 12 September 2009. 

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