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Reply to topic Golf Evolution – Re-look into the history by jamesc

Golf Evolution – Re-look into the history by jamesc
jamesc
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Golf Evolution – Re-look into the history
-James Chee

Golf has been around since the 15th century. When it was first introduced, golf was a sport only played by the rich and couth gentlemen. Back then only a golfer who has superb control over proprioception also known as hand-eye coordination, and a strong will of mind can only dominate the sport. Golf wasn’t as physical or athletically like today in the present. Today golf is usually paired with physical fitness, limberness and mental toughness on the human side of it but still, 60-90% of an average golfer’s performance is contributed by the technology and evolution of golf equipment.

Let’s look at the equipment that changed the way we play golf. These consist of fairway woods, irons, golf balls, gloves, and spiked shoes just to name a few.



During the 15th-16th century, golf balls of those days were just pebbles. Yes that is right, hard rock solid pebbles, usually spherical shape being hit around in the sand dunes with a stick or a club. Only around the 18th century, pebbles were replaced with leather pouches filled with feathers in it. The “Featherie” as it was named was the earliest man made golf balls. The mid-18th century, the ball was reinvented, made from the sap of the Gutta tree and so was called the Gutta-Percha ball.




The Gutta-Percha ball had similar properties as a modern golf ball. Later on during the late 18th century, the golf ball had a one piece rubber core which could be driven roughly 395meters. This invention led on to ridiculous gains in distance but sacrificing control. Golfers in that time realised that scuffed, scratched, dented golf balls flew better in the air and had more hang time giving them more distance. Early 1905 was the introduction of the modern golf ball that had dimples. Dimples on a spherical object would stabilize the ball spin on its axis vertically, horizontally and diagonally because of the way dimples react with air particles. A smooth golf ball would have a larger drag while in the air, whereas a golf ball with dimples could cut the air and have longer hang time due to less surface area in contact with air particles.



As the ball was reinvented, so were the sticks that were used to hit clubs. During the 18th century, the time of the Featherie, golf sticks were made of wood. Craftsmen and players would make golf sticks out of ash, thorn, apple and pear wood. Wood was chosen because the Featherie was a delicate ball that could not withstand beating from an iron stick. Only around the Gutta-Percha ball introduction, iron head clubs began to surface. This was more suitable for the Gutta-Percha ball that had a longer lifespan being hit on the golf course.



The early irons made by blacksmiths were just too clunky and heavy, especially around the hosel where it’s connected to the wooden shaft. Irons head also implemented perimeter weighting, being cast or forged from iron to mild steel to alloy and carbon steel. Perimeter weighting design allowed the head to have a lower center of gravity and be more stable upon impact of the ball.

Now, about fairway woods – they were really a master crafts piece. Fairway woods have many shapes and sizes, numbering from the 1-wood to the 9-wood and were made from persimmon and dogwood. The fairway wood is a longer club that had more flexible shaft. Ash wood that was used for fairway shafts were all replaced by hickory wood which was whippier. With iron introduced in iron sticks, fairway woods eventually became metal woods. Metal woods were just a normal wooden fairway wood with a metal face. Metal has a higher tensile strength than wood, and has more trampoline effect when striking the golf ball. Soon when wood working was scarce, metal took over the entire club head and offered various sizes and shapes varying from 190cc to the present 460cc. Eventually towards the 19th century, metal milling factories were booming and this mass production line slowly decreased the number of working blacksmiths. The various cubic centimetre heads have a hollow design with a thin crown and thin club face gave it a greater trampoline effect to launch the ball faster and hotter off the face.

As we all know the longer the golf shaft, the longer the distance carry. This is the main idea before new materials were sourced to make golf shafts. Wooden shafts were made with hickory wood that was hand chosen by the grain pattern. The wood that had more grain was stiffer and flexed less than the wood that had lesser grain. The grain lines usually forms the spine of the shaft. With the irons and fairways evolving from wood to metal, so did the shafts. In the late 1890’s, some blacksmiths experimented with steel shafts. The advantage of using steel was its accuracy, durability and higher torque. Steel could flex better than wood and would be in different weights. With steel, a golfer could increase club head speed and be more précised. It led from just swinging arms and wrist to precision timing and controlled body swing. The modern swing was born in this era.

Steel was the choice of tour professionals in the 1920’s. After adopting steel shafts, club makers then fiddled with new material such as graphite, aluminium, and alloy and carbon fibre. The new age composites had better cycles per minute (c.p.m) compared to steel shafts. Weight could be minimized and have more flex options such as low kick, mid kick and high kick points. The kick points help the launch trajectory of the golf ball allowing a penetrating ball flight or a high ball flight with a softer landing.

The bits and pieces had its own history behind it too. Tee’s , leather grips, gloves and spiked shoes are just to name a few. Traditionally, sand was compressed into a small pyramid shaped pot. The pot was turned upside down on the ground, like making a small sandcastle. The “Featherie” ball is then placed on top of the sand rising up the height of the ball so that the golf club could go under the ball easily. Later on in 1889, the first golf tee was documented. It was made of rubber, and had three vertical prongs that held the ball in place. However it lay on the ground and not pegged like modern golf tees. It evolved to a rubber tee with a spike that pegged into the ground. This new tee had a cup design to hold the ball and looked pretty much like the modern tee.



Rubber is a versatile material that manufacturers love to use. It could be melted down to liquid latex, be formed into any shape and had elastic properties. Rubber is now used on golf grips, gloves and shoes. Besides rubber, polyvinylchloride or PVC is also largely used in golf equipment. Tees now are either wooden or PVC or rubber.
Golf now is a multi-billion dollar industry globally. Since the 15th century, the alpha of golf, we have witnessed the change of equipment, change of techniques of a golf swing, change of pace with electrical golf carts and et cetera. An average joe golfer would probably like to keep up with the technology of golf equipment. This ‘joe’ believes in investing in new equipment does make the sport golf easier, more in control, drive longer than your buddies, have more hole-out birdies and eagles. Some say golf is a stupid, utterly boring, impatient, temperamental, couth and a rich gentlemen’s sport. That is viewed from an emotional perspective and being human. Technology advances are always leading forward. So maybe we should try to keep up with the trend and new equipment? “Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that's what gets you.” – Jeremy Clarkson quoted.



Back to my topic, technology plays a significant role in golf. Through its evolution to the modern sport, science has proven with rapid ascend of technology anything can be made better and improved. This is the next level of golf. Golfers that are machine-like swing almost exactly alike with each other are only using different equipment. Golf club manufacturers have spent millions of dollars into R & D of the equipment to improve and enhance our ability, skill and experience of the entire game. Technology in our clubs has helped us to enjoy golf even better. It allows us to be creative with your number of strokes or type of shots upon reaching the green. May it be not in regulation, but we all could be awed by a save from under a tree branch which came up brilliantly, slicing the ball around the tree trunk, barely grazing the bark and whizzed towards the flag, landing softly on the front of the green and witnessing the ball rolling to mere foot or two from the flagstick. A one in a million shot, that may not be replicated the second time. Looking on the faces of your flight mates with their gasping jaw is the best reward followed by applause after. You know when you can pull off such a show when you have the best equipment with a certain level of skill. Remember earlier, 60-90% of our golfing abilities come from the technology behind the golf club.


~~~~~END~~~~~
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Aaron
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woh. Very Happy Very Happy ..fantastic info...thanks alot Jamesc.

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Slicer51
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Very nice James, that really gave an overall pictures of golf equipment. Thanks

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PLS READ THIS 1st before posting in BST thread.
http://www.mygolf.com.my/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=9798&start=0
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rien
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well written informative article, James.
especially enjoyed all the accompanying rare visual aid Very Happy
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Wow! Never realized the usual shape tee we use now was invented back in 1922.

Great article, thanks!
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Kuan Yew
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awesome job bro, love the images!

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jamesc
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Aaron wrote:
woh. Very Happy Very Happy ..fantastic info...thanks alot Jamesc.


you're welcome... stay tuned for the next article

Slicer51 wrote:
Very nice James, that really gave an overall pictures of golf equipment. Thanks

rien wrote:
well written informative article, James.
especially enjoyed all the accompanying rare visual aid Very Happy


thank you... had the pressure of being first to publish the article, so must gaya with the pics too

Strike wrote:
Wow! Never realized the usual shape tee we use now was invented back in 1922.

Great article, thanks!


before plastic, there was a substance similar to it - Celluloid.

The Golf Man wrote:
awesome job bro, love the images!

thanks bro KY...

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Moka33
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Good article indeed.The old ball that was named Gutta-Percha was derived from the Malay words "Getah Pecah" coined with English accent by the Brits.

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jamesc
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Moka33 wrote:
Good article indeed.The old ball that was named Gutta-Percha was derived from the Malay words "Getah Pecah" coined with English accent by the Brits.


they came, they took, they named it Dunlop...

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Thanks.

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Golf Evolution – Re-look into the history by jamesc
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