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Antique Golf Clubs. Can you help?

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#1 TheJollyGolfer



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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:00 PM

Is it a Brassie, a Cleek or a Mashie?

The names given to antique golf clubs in the days of Old Tom Morris were cool and also very Scottish in origin.

They were not in any means the best golf clubs ever made but this was the days before Callaway or TaylotMade Golf or the demands of the modern PGA or European Tours.

I just love the old Scottish names for these golf clubs and, apart from the use of the words 'driver, wedge and putter', am disappointed to see them all becoming extinct.

I find it amusing that the new revolutionary drivers that are emerging have sleek aerodynamic characteristics that have design blueprints that have probably been borrowed from the aeronautics industry.

I would love to know the origin of all of these words and, although ‘driver’ seems to be self explanatory, perhaps some of you out there know more. I would be delighted if you can add anything to my vague research.

Let me start with the woods which would have probably have persimmon or hard wood heads and hickory or beech shafts when these names were being used (pre-20th century).

#1 wood – Driver or Play club: The longest hitting wooden club in use: the play club or the grass club (or grassed driver).

#2 wood – Brassie: This club was fitted with a brass sole plate. The term also applied to various lofted wooden clubs in the 1880s and 1890s.
#3 wood – Spoon: Any of a group of early wooden clubs having graduated lofts greater than that of the grassed driver, and correspondingly shorter shafts. The name originated because the loft on early club faces, both wooden and iron, was most often concave and sometimes, therefore, resembled the bowl of a spoon. In the early 20th century it was a somewhat more lofted club than the brassie.

#4 wood- Baffy: A small headed, steeply lofted wooden club, no longer in use, which was developed from the baffing spoon.

Now lets turn to the other antique golf clubs, the irons. Once again, originally pre-20th century with hickory shafts and iron heads

#1 - Driving Iron, Cleek: Any of numerous narrow-bladed iron clubs, variously adapted and used for playing long shots through the green, for playing from sand and rough and for putting. The basic characteristics of cleeks were that they were narrow-bladed and relatively light.

#2 - Cleek, Mid iron: An iron club somewhat more lofted than a driving iron. The alternative name would be the number two iron.

#3 - Mid-Mashie, open to suggestions here…

#4 - Jigger, Mashie Iron: An iron club somewhat less lofted than a mashie, that was used for driving and for full shots through the green.

#5 – Mashie: A lofted iron club, introduced about 1880 and used for pitching with backspin.

#6 - Spade Mashie: A deep-faced iron club, some what more lofted than a mashie.

#7 - Mashie-Niblick: An iron club, having a loft between those of a mashie and a niblick, used for pitching.

#8 - Pitching Mashie: open to suggestions here…

#9 - Niblick, Baffing Spoon: A short headed steeply lofted wooden club, used for playing out of ruts and tight lies.

#10 - Wedge, Jigger: A moderately lofted, shallow-faced, short-shafted iron club, no longer in use, that was used especially for approaching. It was a club used for chip shots, not dissimilar to the modern day pitching wedge.

#Putter : - open to suggestions here…

Most of this information was taken from The Historical Dictionary of Golfing Terms, From 1500 to the present, Peter Davies, 1993.

I do appologise for the lack of definitions but I hope that some of you can fill in the blanks on this antique golf clubs page.

I wish I had listened to my grandfather all those years ago when he talked to me using the old golf words. He insisted that for most par 4's if he could put his drives within range for his baffing spoon, he would make par or better.

These days we talk about a three wood and a wedge but I think a brassie and a baffing spoon is much more colourful.

Driver, 5 wood, hybrid 26°, 7, 9, SW and Putter. Lake balls and never go right tees. No glove and $40 Dunlop shoes from Sport Express.

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#2 hollabachgt


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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:57 PM

I very much like the descriptions Ralph Livingston use over at hickorygolf.com.

The naming of most irons center around  3 clubs; Niblick, Mashie, and Iron. The next tier of clubs fit between these three by combining their names; Mashie Niblick and Mashie Iron. The Mid Iron also falls into the second category and was more commonly used than a Mashie Iron. These seven clubs would create the base set of irons: Iron(1), Mid Iron(3), Mashie Iron(5), Mashie(7), Mashie Niblick(9), and Niblick(W). Clubs like the Sammy, Mongrel Mashie, Spade Mashie, Benny, and Jigger were specialty clubs either named for their task, shape, or creator. It would not surprise me if most of these unusual names, like Cleek and Baffy, were given to these clubs by their creator or early user. Because most clubs were built for a particular client their shapes would vary greatly, if a particular successful club became commonly commissioned the original nick name would stay with it.

To better fill out your inquire, I would suggest moving this thread over to the "hickory, persimmon and classic clubs" forum where we talk about these type of clubs every day. Also, your comment about these clubs not being the best golf clubs ever made I find to be anything but the truth. The craftmanship and ingenuity found in antique clubs just can not be match today. The performance advantage found in modern clubs is surprisingly small for 100 years of progress.


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