A golf club is used to hit a golf ball in a game of golf. Each club is composed of a shaft with a grip and a clubhead. Woods are mainly used for long-distance fairway or tee shots; irons, the most versatile class, are used for a variety of shots; Hybrids that combine design elements of woods and irons are becoming increasingly popular; putters are used mainly on the green to roll the ball into the cup. A standard set consists of 14 golf clubs, typically consisting of 3 or 4 woods, as many as 9 irons (including at least one and as many as three wedges), and a putter.
An important variation in different clubs is loft, or the angle between the club's face and the vertical plane. It is loft that makes a golf ball leave the tee on an ascending trajectory, not the angle of swing; all swings contact the ball with a horizontal motion. The impact of the club compresses the ball, while grooves on the clubface give the ball backspin (which would appear as a clockwise spin on the ball when viewed from the standpoint of a right-swinging golfer, or as a counter-clockwise spin when viewed from the standpoint of a left-swinging golfer). Together, the compression and backspin create lift. The majority of woods and irons are labeled with a number; higher numbers indicate shorter shafts and higher lofts, which give the ball a higher and shorter trajectory.
In 1744, the rules were officially documented and golf started to gain popularity. Many of the original golf clubs had wooden shafts and steel heads[dubious ] until this time period. Whether the game was being played in Scotland, Belgium, or any other country the golf clubs did not differ in the materials. However in the middle of the 18th century, it had switched to wood and only two golf clubs did not have wooden heads, the “niblick and the “cleek.” The golf club has changed so much through time, with the ability to be adequately fit to a player’s shape, size, age, or sex. In the beginning stages of golf, those who played would play with cut branches from trees and now have been revolutionized. There is no specific or set standardization as the club now can be varied in many ways. Before, the golfers only had wooden shafts, mostly wooden heads and/or heavy steel heads and thus led to ineffective playing. The golf balls were made of leather and feathers, known as featheries until the gutta-percha was introduced in 1848. The gutta-percha made the golf balls round and smooth making the accuracy difficult to control. Rubber was later included in the balls the players realized balls with dents or creases easily helped with the accuracy. The size and weight of the golf ball varied for a long time until it was decided on 1.62 inches and ounces. This was until 1932 when the USGA (United States Golf Association) decided on 1.68 inches but left it at 1.62 ounces. These became the international rules as well and have not changed since.
The shafts of the Golf club woods were made of different types of wood before taken over by hickory. The varieties of woods include ash, greenheart, purpleheart, lancewood, lemonwood, orangewood, and blue-mahoo. In the middle of the 19th century the shafts were then being replaced by hickory wood. Despite this strong wood being the primary material, the long-nose club of the mid nineteenth century was still prone to breaking at the top of the backswing. The club heads were often made from thorn, apple, pear, dogwood, beech in the early times until persimmon became the main material. Golf clubs have been developed and the shafts are now made of steel, titanium, carbon fiber, or other types of metals. The shaft is a tapered steel tube or a series of stepped steel tubes in telescopic fashion. This has helped the accuracy of golfers. The grips of the clubs are made from leather or rubber.
Woods are long-distance clubs, meant to drive the ball a great distance down the fairway towards the hole. They generally have a large head and a long shaft for maximum club speed. Historically woods were made from persimmon wood although some manufacturers—notably Ping—developed laminated woods. In 1979, TaylorMade Golf introduced the first metal wood made of steel. Even more recently manufacturers have started using materials such as carbon fiber, titanium, or scandium. Even though most 'woods' are made from different metals, they are still called 'woods' to denote the general shape and their intended use on the golf course. Most woods made today have a graphite shaft and a titanium, composite, or steel head. Woods are the longest clubs and the most powerful of all the golf clubs. There are typically three to four woods in a set which are used off the tee box and, if on a long hole, possibly for the second or even third shot. The biggest wood, known as the driver, is often made of hollowed out titanium with feather light shafts. The length of the woods has been increasing in recent decades, and a typical driver with a graphite shaft is now 45.5 inches (115.6 cm) long. The woods may also have very large heads, up to 460 cm³ in volume. It has a greater weight in the head and sole than in any other point in the club. This is also the same in irons. The shafts range from regular to extra-stiff depending upon each player’s preference.
Hybrids are a cross between a wood and an iron, giving these clubs the wood's long distance with the iron's familiar swing. These clubs generally are used instead of high-numbered woods and/or low-numbered irons, though some manufacturers produce entire sets of hybrids or "iron replacements" that incorporate hybrid design to add distance and forgiveness to a player's entire set of irons from 1 to pitching wedge. Most hybrids take the place of an iron, but the hybrid is easier to hit than its respective iron. These clubs are often referred to as "Rescues" because the TaylorMade Rescue was one of the first clubs to utilize this design, as well as the use of the clubs to get one out of a tricky position (to be in fact rescued by the club).
Irons are golf clubs with a flat angled face and a shorter shaft than a wood, designed for shots approaching the green or from more difficult lies such as the rough, through or over trees, or the base of hills. Irons are used during the middle of each hole off the roughs, fairways or sand traps. There are long irons, medium irons, and short irons all with flat heads. They are called irons because they were made of metal. As with woods, there are special types. Wedges, invented by Gene Sarazan are a special type of iron that took the place of the “niblick.” They are heavy and shorter than other irons, with a less flat face to loft the ball higher. As with woods, "irons" get their name because they were originally made from forged iron. The higher the number gets on the scale, the lower amount of angle difference from 90 degrees. Irons are often hybrid, cavity-back or muscle-back. A hybrid is any iron that features a head very similar to a fairway wood; hollow steel or titanium with a shallow, slightly convex face. A hybrid head is usually marginally shallower and does not extend backwards from the face as far as a comparable fairway wood. A Cavity-back iron is any iron in which a small to large amount of the metal across the back of the head is removed, allowing that weight to be re-positioned on the perimeter of the head, farther away from the head's center of gravity. A muscle-back iron is any iron in which there is no cavity on the back of the head, i.e., the weight is more evenly distributed across the back of the clubhead.
Another variation of the putter, called the wedge, has a similar look, feel and general construction as a "normal" putter, but with a much higher loft, often 30–45 degrees. It is used to lift the ball over or out of the rough or fringe and onto the green with a motion similar to a putt. It can also be used for "lagging" (a putt made on the green from long distance for the sole purpose of setting up the ball for an easier second putt). A putter used for this purpose would require a harder stroke and the rough or fringe could affect accuracy. A high-angle wedge could have similar accuracy issues and could also damage the turf on such a shot if made carelessly. However, its use is generally limited; it is best-suited for short-distance play from close-cut grass on a terrain level similar to that of the green, and as such most skilled golfers choose to use a low-bounce, wide-soled wedge with a putting motion to accomplish a similar effect and save the space the club would take for a more versatile club.
Wedges are used for a variety of short-distance, high-altitude, high-accuracy shots such as hitting the ball onto the green ("approach" shots), placing the ball accurately on the fairway for a better shot at the green ("lay-up" shots), or hitting the ball out of hazards or rough onto the green (chipping). There are usually six types of wedges with lofts ranging from 45° to 64°: pitching wedge (PW 48°), gap wedge (GW 52°), sand wedge (SW 56°), lob wedge (LW 60°), and ultra lob wedge (LW 64°).
Also present in some golfers' bags is the "chipper" which is designed for low-speed swings to lift the ball a short distance about 25 yards/23 meters, onto the green. The club can be used in place of the pitching wedge with an abbreviated swing to accomplish the same end. This club is used only on the greens and is the finishing club for each hole. These clubs were originally made of wood but have also been developed to metals as well. These are the shortest clubs of the set.
Putters are a special class of clubs with a loft not exceeding ten degrees, designed primarily to roll the ball along the grass, generally from a point on the putting green towards the cup. Contrary to popular belief, putters do have a loft (often 5 degrees from truly perpendicular at impact) that helps to lift the ball from any indentation it has made. Newer putters also include grooves on the face to promote roll rather than a skid off the impact. This increases rolling distance and reduces bouncing over the turf.
The shaft is a tapered tube made of metal (usually steel) or carbon fiber composite (referred to as graphite). The shaft is roughly 0.5 inches (13 mm) in diameter near the grip and from 34 to 48 inches (86 to 122 cm) in length. Shafts weigh from 45 to 150 grams (1.6 to 5.3 oz), depending on the material and length.
Shafts are quantified in a number of different ways. The most common is the shaft flex. Simply, the shaft flex is the amount that the shaft will bend when placed under a load. A stiffer shaft will not flex as much, which requires more power to flex and "whip" through the ball properly (which results in higher club speed at impact for more distance), while a more flexible shaft will whip with less power required for better distance on slower swings, but may torque and over-flex if swung with too much power causing the head not to be square at impact, resulting in lower accuracy. Most shaft makers offer a variety of flexes. The most common are: L (Lady), A (Soft Regular, Intermediate or Senior), R (Regular), S (Stiff), and X (Tour Stiff, Extra Stiff or Strong). A regular flex shaft is generally appropriate for those with an average head speed (80–94 mph (130–151 km/h)), while an A-Flex (or senior shaft) is for players with a slower swing speed (70–79 mph (110–127 km/h)), and the stiffer shafts, such as S-Flex and X-Flex (Stiff and Extra-Stiff shafts) are reserved only for those players with an above average swinging speed, usually above 100 mph (160 km/h). Some companies also offer a "stiff-regular" or "firm" flex for players whose club speed falls in the upper range of a Regular shaft (90–100 mph (140–160 km/h)), allowing golfers and clubmakers to fine-tune the flex for a stronger amateur-level player.
On off-center hits, the clubhead twists as a result of a torque, reducing accuracy as the face of the club is not square to the player's stance at impact. In recent years, many manufacturers have produced and marketed many low-torque shafts aimed at reducing the twisting of the clubhead at impact; however, these tend to be stiffer along their length as well. Most recently, many brands have introduced stiff-tip shafts. These shafts offer the same flex throughout most of the Shaft, in order to attain the "whip" required to propel the ball properly, but also include a stiffer tip, which cuts back drastically on the lateral torque acting on the head.
Widely overlooked as a part of the club, the shaft is considered by many to be the engine of the modern clubhead. Shafts range in price from a mere US$20 to over US$1200. Current graphite shafts weigh considerably less than their steel counterparts (sometimes weighing less than 50 grams (1.8 oz) for a driver shaft), allowing for lighter clubs that can be swung at greater speed. Within the last ten years[when?], performance shafts have been integrated into the clubmaking process. Performance shafts are designed to address specific criteria, such as to launch the ball higher or lower or to adjust for the timing of a player's swing to load and unload the shaft at the correct moments of the swing for maximum power. Whereas in the past each club could come with only one shaft, today's clubheads can be fitted with dozens of different shafts, creating the potential for a much better fit for the average golfer.
In modern times, the grip has undergone a number of iterations. The large variety of models makes it far easier than in the past for a discriminating golfer to find a comfortable model.
According to the rules of golf, all club grips, with the exception of the putter, must have a circular cross-section. The putter may have any cross section that is symmetrical along the length of the grip through at least one plane. Grips may taper from thick to thin along their length (and virtually all do), but they are not allowed to have any waisting (a thinner section of the grip surrounded by thicker sections above and below it) or bulges (thicker sections of the grip surrounded by thinner sections). Minor variations in surface texture (such as the natural variation of a "wrap"-style grip) are not counted unless significant.
Advances in materials have resulted in more durable, longer-lasting soft grips, but nevertheless grips do eventually dry out, harden, or are otherwise damaged and must be replaced. Replacement grips sold as do-it-yourself kits are generally inexpensive and of high quality, although custom grips that are larger, softer, or textured differently from the everyday "wrap"-style grip are generally bought and installed by a clubsmith.
Regripping used to require toxic, flammable solvents to soften and activate the adhesive, and a vise to hold the club steady while the grip was forced on. The newest replacement kits, however, use double-sided tape with a water-activated adhesive that is slippery when first activated, allowing easier installation. Once the adhesive cures, it creates a very strong bond between grip and shaft and the grip is usually impossible to remove without cutting it off. Note that the grip is sometimes lubed for easier removal.
The hosel is the portion of the clubhead to which the shaft attaches. Though largely ignored by players, hosel design is integral to the balance, feel and power of a club. Modern hosels are designed to place as little mass as possible over the top of the striking face of the club, which lowers the center of gravity of the club for better distance.
Each head has one face which contacts the ball during the stroke. Putters may have two striking faces, as long as they are identical and symmetrical. Some chippers have two faces, but are not legal. Page 135 of the 2009 USGA rules of golf states:
The clubhead must have only one striking face, except that a putter may have two such faces if their characteristics are the same, and they are opposite each other.
Page 127 of the USGA rules of golf states:
A putter is a club with a loft not exceeding ten degrees designed primarily for use on the putting green.
The decorative trim ring, usually black (It may have additional trim colors), that is found directly on top of the hosel on many woods and irons.
The ruling authorities of golf, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA), reserve the right to define what shapes and physical characteristics of clubs are permissible in tournament play. Many recently developed woods have a marked "trampoline effect" (a large deformation of the face upon impact followed by a quick restoration to original dimensions, acting like a slingshot), resulting in very high ball speeds and great lengths of tee shots. As of 1 January 2008, the USGA and R&A have settled on a regulation that limits the acceptable "trampoline effect" to a coefficient of restitution (COR)—a measurement of the efficiency of the transfer of energy from the club head to the ball—of .830.
Other large scale USGA rulings involve a 1990 lawsuit, and subsequent settlement, against Karsten Manufacturing, makers of the PING brand, for their use of square, or U-grooves in their immensely popular Ping Eye2 irons. The USGA argued that players who used the Eye2 had an unfair advantage in imparting spin on the ball, which helps to stop the ball on the putting greens. The USGA utilized John L. Saksun, founder of Canadian golf company Accuform Golf, as a consultant to set up methods of measuring the unique grooves and determining PING's compliance with the rulings. Saksun, by proposing a cost-effective solution to help PING change the design of subsequent Eye2s, saved PING hundreds of millions. PING subsequently withdrew their US$100 million lawsuit against the USGA. Ping’s older clubs were "grandfathered in" and allowed to remain in play as part of the settlement. Today, square grooves are considered perfectly legal under the Rules of Golf. However, the USGA has determined that square grooves are illegal in elite-level competition. According to the USGA, as January 1, 2010, professional golfers on one of the top tours, or those attempting to qualify for one of the three Open Championships, will need to use new conforming wedges (those without square grooves). Moreover, those who plan to qualify for any other USGA championship will need new conforming wedges by 2014. In addition, this regulation might include amateur events as well. Casual golfers may use square groove wedges (and clubs) until at least 2024.
- ^ a b c USGA rules of golf, p 135.
- ^ a b c USGA rules of golf, p 127.
- ^ Stachura, Mike (2002-10). About-face: the USGA's final edict on COR should end the confusion over which drivers conform and which do not. Golf Digest, October 2002. Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HFI/is_10_53/ai_93487351.
- ^ Weeks, Bob (2007-02-16). Grooves: the new rules battleground. SCOREGolf: The Voice of Canadian Golf, 16 February 2007. Retrieved from http://scoregolf.com/blog/bob-weeks/2007/February/Grooves-the-new-rules-battleground.cfm.
- ^ Diaz, Jaime (January 29, 1990). "Accord Is Reached On U-Groove Irons". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/29/sports/accord-is-reached-on-u-groove-irons.html. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
- ^ Potter, Jerry (March 12, 2007). "Club grooves limitation sought". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/golf/2007-02-28-grooves-rule-changes_x.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
- ^ a b http://www.mygolfspy.com/usga-2010-groove-rule/
- ^ http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1596949,00.html
- Bade, Edwin. The Mechanics of Sport. A. G. Elliot, New York, 1952.
- Bruce, Ben and Evelyn Davies. Beginning Golf. Wadsworth Publishing, California, 1962.
- Cheatum, Billy Ann. Golf. W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1969.
- Cochran, A.J. Science and Golf II: Procedures of World Scientific Congress of Golf. M. R. Farally, London, 1994.
- Concannon, Dale. The Original Rules of Golf. Bodleian Library, Oxford, 2009.
- Cook, Kevin. Driven: Teen phenoms, Mad Parents, Swing Science and the Future of Golf. Gotham Books, New York, 2008.
- Evans, Webster. Encyclopaedia of Golf. St. Martins Press, New York, 1971.
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- Gibson, Kevin H. The Encyclopedia of Golf. A. S. Barnes, New York, 1958.
- How Zip Is Put Into Your Golf Clubs detailed and well illustrated July 1951 article on the manufacturing process for golf clubs
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