Golf Playing Through: Golf, the Canadian Story

Golfing Through the Ages: 1700 to 1850  
Origins of Golf Golf Spreads Out Wooden Clubs and Feathery Balls Club-making The Equipment and the Course

Wooden Clubs and Feathery Balls

The early players used elegant wooden clubs, crafted in Scotland, the heads likely made of beech wood and the shafts of hickory. These early "long-nose" wooden golf clubs were graceful, long-headed, and supple-shafted, designed to sweep a delicate feather ball a few yards down the fairway. The "feathery" ball was fragile, especially when wet, and could be hit only about 180 yards. The ball was made by stuffing a volume of chicken or goose feathers (enough to fill a top hat) into a leather covering.

Because the feather ball was fragile, difficult to make, and consequently expensive, most of the clubs used were made of wood rather than metal. The few iron-headed clubs were only used in extreme circumstances, such as playing a ball out of a cart track.

Feathery Ball - 995.1.2 - CD97-362-089 Figure 5: Early feathery ball from about 1830, acquired in Scotland in the early 1960s.
CMC 995.1.2

Long-nosed playclub - 995.4.4 - CD97-363-004 Figure 6: Long-nosed playclub or driver by A. Forgan, about 1868. Note the ram's horn plate on the sole.
CMC 995.4.4