Golf Playing Through: Golf, the Canadian Story

Golf Comes to Canada: 1850 to 1900  
Canadian Clubs and Contests The Gutta-percha Ball Evolving Equipment Carrying Bags

Evolving Equipment

The new gutta-percha ball demanded a stronger club with a thick grip to handle the reaction of hitting this firmer, non-resilient ball which travelled a greater distance, but stung the hands when miss-hit. With the advent of the gutty, the manufacture of iron-headed clubs greatly increased.

By 1890 the typical set of clubs used in Canada consisted of three wooden-headed clubs (driver or playclub, spoon, and putter) and three iron-headed clubs (sand-iron, cleek, and niblick or rut iron). The driver and spoon were used for the initial swing and on the fairway, the putter on the green, and the iron clubs to extract the ball from the hazard areas of grass, sand or water along the course. Putters are light clubs with flat faces, used only on the green; they are normally the club used to hit the ball into the hole.

From these basic clubs the modern sets evolved. Today's sets of clubs may include five or six woods derived from the driver, brassie, and spoon, and ten or more irons derived from the three early types; the lofter (or sand-iron), the cleek, and the rutter. Although today's golf clubs are merely numbered, up until the early 1950s each club had an individual name: eg., driver, brassie, spoon, baffy, mashie and niblick. As well as being designed for hitting the ball different distances, the clubs were also designed for sending the ball up into the air at different angles and heights. Matched sets of irons did not appear until after the First World War.

Spring-faced or Reflex Iron - 994.9.1 - CD97-385-016 Figure 14: This spring-faced or reflex iron has a wooden face designed to absorb the shock of hitting the gutty ball. The "Cran Cleek" with a heavy hosel dates from about 1887.
CMC 994.9.1