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The History of Golf Clubs

While there is evidence of a golf-like game played earlier in the Netherlands as well as a game called chuiwan played during the Song Dynasty in China, it is widely accepted that Scotland invented the game of golf in the 1400s. In the 1800s, the game made its way to the United States, where players used 20 to 30 different wooden clubs to hit featheries, or hard leather balls stuffed with feathers. In 1856, Robert Forgan exported many American hickory trees to Scotland to be made into golf clubs. Harder persimmon wood was used for the club heads until drop forging made mass-produced iron heads a reality in the late 1800s. In 1931, Billy Burke became the first golfer to win the U.S. Open using steel-shafted clubs; interestingly, they were painted to look like wood. In 1932, pro golfer Gene Sarazen created the modern sand wedge club, which he used when he won the British Open. In 1939, clubs had become varied enough that the sport’s authorities put a rule in place that no more than 14 clubs could be used in a round. In 1959, engineer Karsten Solheim invented a more sophisticated putter that enabled players to hit the ball straight; then he started a well-known golf equipment brand, PING. Lightweight, graphite-shaft clubs gained popularity among women and senior golfers in the early 1970s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that PGA Tour players began using them, too. In 1991, Callaway introduced the famous “Big Bertha” stainless-steel-headed driver, which was later followed by an entire product line of the same name. The innovations continued into the 2000s and 2010s; for example, in 2013, TaylorMade created a R1 driver that adjusts to 12 different lofts and seven different face angles, allowing players to make razor-sharp adjustments to accommodate different coarse conditions. Today, there are a wide variety of golf clubs on the market made with different materials, weights, and color options to suit every golfer out there!

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