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Numbering Golf Clubs
Did you know that it wasn't until the 1930's when manufacturers began building matched sets of clubs that this practice became popular. Prior to this, clubs were sold individually and mostly with wooden shafts (usually hickory). With the advent of steel shafts, creation of the matched set was possible and the beginning of manufacturers numbering the individual clubs amoung the set.
An Old Game
The Romans played a game called paganica that was reputed to have been played with a bent stick and a ball which may have been made of wood or animal skin stuffed with some kind of material. They played "through" as they expanded their empire into western Europe.

Scotland has the earliest written evidence of the existence of golf due to the fact that King James II in 1457 proclaimed that the game be banned. The Kings reason was that Golf was taking up valuable time that should have been spent practicing archery, swordsmanship, and other defensive skills.

Many historians believe that the coastal areas of eastern Scotland contained the first courses. These courses, continuously eroded by tide and wind were structured by mother nature. With the removal of offending pieces of scrub and weed, 'fair ways' and 'holing out' areas were formed. The 'holing out' areas were formed with a hole in the center cut out with a knife and marked with a large white sea-bird's feather. Later the feather was pushed into a piece of stick in the hole.

The Best of the First Laws for Golf (circa 1897)
Rule 2
You must tee the ball on the ground.
Rule 4
You are not to move stones, bones or any breakclub for the sake of playing your ball upon the fair green, and that only within a club's length of your ball.
Rule 7
At holing you are to play the ball honestly for the hole, and not to play on your adversary's ball, not lying on your way to the hole.
Rule 10
If a ball be stopped by any person, horse, dog, or anything else the ball so stopped must be played where it lies.
Rule 13
Neither trench, ditch nor dyke made for the preservation of the links, nor the scholars' holes or the soldier's lines, shall be accounted a hazard, but the ball is to be taken out, teed and played with any iron club.
Earliest Golf in the USA
Scottish regiments who took part in the War of Independence had with them, or had fashioned, a few clubs to "knock a ball about& in periods of relaxation. The sport lay dormant until the mid 1850's when the sport was resurrected in Savannah and Philadelphia with the introduction of the Cricket Clubs (18th hole golf course)
Early Golf Clubs
Driver
Designed with a long supple shaft and a head with a straight face, was ment for striking the ball long distances. Later known as 1 wood.
Brassie
A slightly shorter and stiffer shaft and bevelled back face, assisted the ball into the air but allowd less run. Later known as 2 wood.
Spoon
Similar but shorter, stiffer and with geater loft of face. Later known as 3 wood.
Baffy
A small round-headed club with generous loft, was loved for moving the ball from semi-rough, divot marks and rabbit scrapes or for playing shorter holes which required little movement from the ball when it landed. Later known as a 4 wood.
Early Golf Balls
Feather Ball
By 1630 the golf ball had been perfected to a leather pouch filled almost exclusively with a top hat full of down feathers from duck or geese. The feathers were boiled to soften and shrink them prior to insertion into the leather skin that had been soaked in alum and water. The feathers were then stuffed into the leather ball. After drying out, the leather cover contracted while the feathers expanded, leaving a solid sphere with faint seams.

The making of a Feather Ball was a tedious task and so time consuming that a days work yielded only 4 or 5 balls. The ball when new and hard enabled long hitters to hit the featheries as far as 350 yards. The featheries suffered from two important problems. If the ball became wet, the ball became very heavy and distance was greatly reduced. Second, one topped shot with the blade of an iron and the seams of the ball would give, resulting in a premature moult.

Gutta Ball
A ball of solid gutta-percha - a milky substance derived from the latex of Maylayan and Indian rubber tree was fashioned in 1845 by Rev Dr. Patterson. Although, Dr. Patterson applied for the first patent for making the gutta ball, there are still many historians who claim that the balls were being made prior to Dr. Patterson claim.

New balls were somewhat unstable after manufactor and its erratic flight through air caused problems for many. Later it become apparent to its users that its very smooth surface was the culprit for the problems and allowing the ball to season through use corrected many of the flight problems. It then became custom to correct this problem by marking the surface of the ball with a hammer and chisel. These "hand-hammered" balls resulted in vastly greater performance then the smooth version. Further improvement resulted from this method when it was discovered that underspin rotation kept the ball aloft much better when it was indented or grooved.

The gutta ball suffered from fragmentation which explains this early rule: "if a ball splits into separate pieces, another ball may be laid down where the largest portion lies".

Rubber Core Ball
During the turn of the century, Coburn Haskell with the aid of the Goodrich Tire & Rubber Company created the rubber core ball constructed by winding many yards of strip rubber around a marble-size central core. This elastic-made ball was then covered with a skin of gutta percha. Eventually the material covering the balls were changed with the gutta percha being replaced by balata, the sap from a tropical tree which yieled a tough non-elastic gum.

The one fault this new ball brought was its effect on the golf courses. Holes had to be lengthened, or tees put back, and numerous hazards, principally bunkers, were advanced to catch the shots which strayed from the straight and narrow.

Irons, Mashies and Cleeks
The early makers of iron clubs were called Cleek makers. These craftsmen whose tools included tongs, heavy and light hammer, forge, and anvil; put two flat pieces of malleable iron togeather by shaping and fusing. The face was then filed and a tapered socket was created ready to accept a straight-grained wooden shaft. The club was then fitted with it wooden shaft complete with animal skin grip padded up to a thickness as specified by the player. The demand for the cleek club increased with the arrival of the gutty ball in 1948. Each club contained a logo or "cleek mark" stamped on the back of the blade of the club.

After the cleeks came the irons and mashies. An assortment of clubs with distinctive names including the driving iron, mid-iron, push iron, loft iron, mashie iron, pitching iron, mashie niblick, niblick and rut niblick. The niblicks were designed with oval or near-round heads. The mashie family was made up by a driving mashie(1), mashie iron (2/3), mashie cleek (3), standard (5), long-face mashies (4/5), deep and spade mashies (5/6), mashie niblick (7), water mashie (7), niblick, and putter.

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