Golf club
Golf club

A golf club is a club used to hit a golf ball
in a game of golf. Each club is composed of a shaft with a grip and a club head. 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, and while there are traditional
combinations sold at retail as matched sets, players are free to use any combination of
14 or fewer legal clubs. An important variation in different clubs
is loft, or the angle between the club’s face and the vertical plane. It is loft that is
the primary determinant of the ascending trajectory of the golf ball, with the tangential angle
of the club head’s swing arc at impact being a secondary and relatively minor consideration.
The impact of the club compresses the ball, while grooves on the club face give the ball
backspin. 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. Materials
The shafts of the woods were made of different types of wood before being replaced by hickory
in the middle of the 19th century . The varieties of woods included ash, greenheart, purpleheart,
lancewood, lemonwood, orangewood, and blue-mahoo. Despite the strength of hickory, the long-nose
club of the mid nineteenth century was still prone to breaking at the top of the back swing.
The club heads were often made from thorn, apple, pear, dogwood, and beech in the early
times until persimmon became the main material. Golf clubs have been improved and the shafts
are now made of steel, titanium, other types of metals or carbon fiber. The shaft is a
tapered steel tube or a series of stepped steel tubes in telescopic fashion. This has
improved the accuracy of golfers. The grips of the clubs are made from leather or rubber.
Club types Wood 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 mostly-hollow titanium, composite, or steel head, of relatively light
weight allowing faster club-head speeds. 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
from 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 long. The woods may also have very large heads,
up to 460 cm³ in volume. The shafts range from senior to extra-stiff depending upon
each player’s preference. Iron Irons are clubs with a solid, all-metal head
featuring a flat angled face, and a shorter shaft and more upright lie angle than a wood.
Irons are designed for a variety of shots from all over the course, from the tee box
on short or dog-legged holes, to the fairway or rough on approach to the green, to tricky
situations like punching through or lobbing over trees, getting out of hazards, or hitting
from tight lies requiring a compact swing. Most of the irons have a number from 1 to
11, corresponding to their relative loft angle within a matched set. Irons are typically
grouped according to their intended distance; in the numbered irons, there are long irons,
medium irons, and short irons, with progressively higher loft angles, shorter shafts, and heavier
club heads. As with woods, “irons” get their name because
they were originally made from forged iron. Modern irons are investment-cast out of steel
alloys, which allows for better-engineered “cavity-back” designs that have lower centers
of mass and higher moments of inertia, making the club easier to hit and giving better distance
than older forged “muscle-back” designs. Forged irons with less perimeter weighting are still
seen, especially in sets targeting low-handicap and scratch golfers, because this less forgiving
design allows a skilled golfer to intentionally hit a curved shot, to follow the contour of
the fairway or “bend” a shot around an obstacle. Wedge Wedges are a sub-class of irons with greater
loft than the numbered irons, and other features such as high-mass club heads and wide soles
that allow for easier use in tricky lies. Wedges are used for a variety of short-distance,
high-altitude, high-accuracy “utility” shots, such as hitting the ball onto the green, placing
the ball accurately on the fairway for a better shot at the green, or hitting the ball out
of hazards or rough onto the green. There are five types of wedges, with lofts ranging
from 45° to 64°: pitching wedge, gap wedge, sand wedge, lob wedge, and ultra lob wedge.
Hybrid Hybrids are a cross between a wood and an
iron, giving these clubs the wood’s long distance and higher launch, with the iron’s familiar
swing. The club head of a hybrid has a wood-inspired, slightly convex face, and is typically hollow
like modern metal woods to allow for high impulse on impact and faster swing speeds.
The head is usually smaller than true woods, however, not extending as far back from the
face, and the lie and shaft length are similar to an iron giving similar swing mechanics.
These clubs generally replace low-numbered irons in a men’s set, which are typically
the hardest clubs in a player’s bag to hit well. By doing so they also generally make
higher-lofted woods redundant as well. However, some manufacturers produce “iron replacement”
sets that use hybrid designs to replace an entire set of traditional irons, from 3 to
pitching wedge. Ladies’ and seniors’ sets commonly feature a combination of high-lofted
woods and hybrids to replace the 5, 6 and 7-irons, allowing these players to get greater
carry distances with slower swings. Putter 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 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. Putters
are the only class of club allowed to have certain features, such as two striking faces,
non-circular grip cross-sections, bent shafts or hosels, and appendages designed primarily
to aid players’ aim. Chipper
Present in some golfers’ bags is the chipper, a club designed to feel like a putter but
with a more lofted face, used with a putting motion to lift the ball out of the higher
grass of the rough and fringe and drop it on the green, where it will then roll like
a putt. This club replaces the use of a high-lofted iron to make the same shot, and allows the
player to make the shot from a stance and with a motion nearly identical to a putt,
which is more difficult with a lofted iron due to a difference in lie angle.
Most chippers have a loft greater than 10 degrees, which is the maximum loft permitted
by the Rules of Golf for a club to be classed as a putter, so these clubs are actually classed
as irons. To be legal for sanctioned play, a chipper cannot have any feature that is
defined in the rules as allowable only on putters, e.g. two striking faces or a flat-topped
“putter grip”. This disqualifies many chipper designs, but there are some USGA-conforming
chippers, and non-conforming designs can still be used in non-sanctioned “informal” play.
Construction Shaft The shaft is a tapered tube made of metal
or carbon fiber composite. The shaft is roughly 0.5 inches in diameter near the grip and from
34 to 48 inches in length. Shafts weigh from 45 to 150 grams, 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, 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/W, A/I, R, S, and X. A regular flex shaft is generally appropriate for those with
an average head speed), while an A-Flex is for players with a slower swing speed), and
the stiffer shafts, such as S-Flex and X-Flex are reserved only for those players with an
above average swinging speed, usually above 100 mph. Some companies also offer a “stiff-regular”
or “firm” flex for players whose club speed falls in the upper range of a Regular shaft),
allowing golfers and club makers to fine-tune the flex for a stronger amateur-level player.
At impact, the club head can twist as a result of torque applied to the shaft, reducing accuracy
as the face of the club is not square to the player’s stance. The ability of a shaft to
twist along its length due to this torque is fundamentally a function of the flex of
the shaft itself; a stiffer shaft will also torque less. To counter torque in more flexible
shafts, club makers design the shafts with varying degrees of torque through their length,
particularly along the thinnest part of the shaft where it joins with the club head. This
results in a point at which the shaft is most flexible, called the “kick point”; above that
point the increasing diameter of the shaft makes it more rigid, while below that point
the shaft is reinforced internally to reduce torquing of the club head. Shafts have typically
been classified as having a low, medium or high kick; a low kick means the shaft will
store energy closer to the club head, which means the club head can twist more but also
allows for higher club head speeds. A high kick shaft will store energy closer to the
grip; such a shaft will feel firmer when swinging it and will give better control over direction,
but the same strength swing will flex the shaft less, which will reduce club-head speed.
Widely overlooked as a part of the club, the shaft is considered by many to be the engine
of the modern club head. Shafts range in price from a mere US$4 to over US$1200. Current
graphite shafts weigh considerably less than their steel counterparts for a driver shaft),
allowing for lighter clubs that can be swung at greater speed. Beginning in the late 1990s,
custom shafts have been integrated into the club-making process. These shafts will, within
a given flex rating, 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 club heads can be fitted with dozens of different shafts, each
with slight variation in behavior, creating the potential for a much better fit for the
average golfer. Grip
The grip of the club is attached to the opposite end of the shaft from the club head, and is
the part of the club the player holds on to while swinging. Originally, the grip was composed
of one or more leather strips wrapped around the shaft. The leather outer wrap on a grip
is still seen on some clubs, most commonly putters, but most modern grips are a one-piece
“sleeve” made of rubber, synthetic or composite material that is slid over the shaft and secured
with an adhesive. These sleeve grips allow club makers and golfers to customize the grip’s
diameter, consistency and texturing pattern to best fit the player. Clubs with an outer
“wrap” of leather or leather-like synthetic still typically have a “sleeve” form underneath
to add diameter to the grip and give it its basic profile.
Grip rules According to the rules of golf, all club grips
must have the same cross-section shape along their entire length, and 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; “shield” profiles
with a flat top and curved underside are common. Grips may taper from thick to thin along their
length, but they are not allowed to have any waisting or bulges. Minor variations in surface
texture are not counted unless significant. Re-gripping
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.
Re-gripping 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. Hosel
The hosel is the portion of the club head 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.
Club head 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 club head 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. Therefore, any double sided club with a loft
greater than 10 degrees is not legal. Ferrule
The trim ring, usually black, that is found directly on top of the hosel on many woods
and irons. The ferrule is mostly decorative, creating a continuous line between the shaft
and the wider hosel, but in some cases it can form part of the securing mechanism between
hosel and shaft. Ferrules of differing weights can fine-tune the center of mass of the overall
club head, but for these minute adjustments, screw-in weighted inserts at specific points
on the club head are usually used instead. Club sets
The rules of golf limit each player to a maximum of 14 clubs in their bag. Strict rules prohibit
sharing of clubs between players that each have their own set, and while occasional lending
of a club to a player is generally overlooked, habitual borrowing of other players’ clubs
or the sharing of a single bag of clubs slows play considerably when both players need the
same club. The most common set of men’s clubs is:
A driver, usually numbered a 1-wood regardless of actual loft, which varies from 8° up to
13° A fairway wood, typically numbered a 3-wood
and lofted about 15° A matched set of 7 numbered irons from 3 through
9, plus a pitching wedge or “10-iron” A sand wedge
A putter The above set is only 12 clubs; these are
found in virtually every golf bag. To this, players typically add two of the following:
Another fairway wood, often a 5-wood lofted around 18°, to allow other options besides
long irons in the 180–250 yard range, A hybrid, typically lofted for similar distance
as a 3- or 4-iron and usually replacing instead of supplementing those clubs in the bag, and/or
An additional wedge, usually either: A gap wedge lofted near 52° to fit between
the modern pitching and sand wedges in loft, or
A lob wedge, typically lofted around 60°, used for tight approach shots from the rough
or sand. Women’s club sets are similar in overall makeup,
but typically have higher lofts and shorter, more flexible shafts in retail sets to accommodate
the average female player’s height and swing speed.
Variations on this basic set abound; several club options usually exist for almost any
shot depending on the player’s skill level and playing style, and the only club universally
considered to be indispensable is the putter. Some consider the modern deep-faced driver
to be equally irreplaceable; this is cause for some debate, as professional players including
Tiger Woods have played and won tournaments without using a driver, instead using a 3-wood
for tee shots and making up the difference on the approach using a lower-lofted iron.
The most common omissions are the “long irons”, numbered from 2 to 5, which are notoriously
difficult to hit well. The player can supplement the gaps in distance with either higher-numbered
woods such as the 5 and even the 7-wood, or may replace the long irons with equivalently-numbered
hybrid clubs. If hybrids are used, higher-lofted woods are often omitted as redundant, but
ladies’ and seniors’ sets commonly feature both hybrids and high-lofted woods, omitting
the long irons entirely in favor of the lofted woods, and replacing the mid-irons with hybrids.
The combination allows for higher launch angles on the long-distance clubs, which gives better
distance with slower swing speeds. Where a club is omitted and not replaced with a club
of similar function, players may add additional clubs of a different function such as additional
wedges. While 14 clubs is a maximum, it is not a minimum;
players are free to use any lesser number of clubs they think will be useful, so substitutions
for the common omissions above are not always made; a player may simply choose to play without
a 5-wood or 2–4 irons, instead using a 4-wood and moving directly to their 5-iron as desired
distance decreases. Other clubs may be omitted as well. On courses where bags must be carried
by the player, the player may take only the odd-numbered irons; without the 4, 6 or 8
irons the bag’s weight is considerably reduced. Carrying only a driver, 3-wood, 4-hybrid,
5-7-9 irons, pitching and sand wedges, and a putter reduces the number of clubs in the
bag to 9; this is a common load-out for a “Sunday bag” taken to the driving range or
to an informal game. A skilled player can usually overcome the lesser selection of club
lofts by reducing their swing speed on a lower-loft iron and/or placing the ball further forward
in their stance to get the same carry distance and/or launch angle as the next higher loft
number. Regulations
The ruling authorities of golf, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the
United States Golf Association, reserve the right to define what shapes and physical characteristics
of clubs are permissible in tournament play. The current rules for club design, including
the results of various rulings on clubs introduced for play, are defined in Appendix II of the
Rules of Golf. The overarching principle of club design used
by both authorities is defined in Appendix II-1a, which states: “The club must not be
substantially different from the traditional and customary form and make. The club must
be composed of a shaft and a head and it may also have material added to the shaft to enable
the player to obtain a firm hold. All parts of the club must be fixed so that the club
is one unit, and it must have no external attachments.” In addition, Appendix II-4a
states, regarding club heads, that “the club head must be generally plain in shape. All
parts must be rigid, structural in nature and functional. The club head or its parts
must not be designed to resemble any other object. It is not practicable to define ‘plain
in shape’ precisely and comprehensively.” These two rules are used as the basis for
most of the more specific rules of Appendix II, including that no club may have a concave
face and various rules defining what is “traditional” about the shapes of specific clubs, while
allowing for the progression of technology. The “traditional and customary” rule was originally
used to ban the introduction of steel club shafts, as that material was not traditional
for shafts; that specific ban was rescinded in 1924 by the USGA, and steel would become
universal until the development of graphite shafts whose introduction was less controversial.
The “plain in shape” rule was more recently bent to allow for non-traditional driver club
head shapes, such as squares, as a compromise to club-makers after imposing and enforcing
a 460cc volume limit on these same club heads. Many recently developed woods have a marked
“trampoline effect”, 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—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. 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, as a “condition
of competition”. Casual golfers may use square groove wedges until at least 2024. Wedges
that conform to the new standard are often marketed as “CC” or “Condition of Competition”
wedges; this moniker is likely to fall into disuse as players upgrade clubs and the use
of non-conforming irons diminishes. See also Golf glossary
Golf cart Obsolete golf clubs
Solar Golf Cart References
Notes Bibliography
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.
Ford, Doug. Getting Started in Golf. Sterling Publishers, New York, 1964.
Gibson, Kevin H. The Encyclopedia of Golf. A. S. Barnes, New York, 1958.
External links How Zip Is Put Into Your Golf Clubs—detailed
and well illustrated July 1951 Popular Science article on the manufacturing process for golf

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