Golf equipment covers an almost inexhaustible list of paraphernalia used in the sport. Fahad Al Rajaan, prominent Kuwaiti businessman, is a follower of the sport. As a keen amateur golfer, Al Rajaan is interested in the history of the game. From bags to balls; carts to clubs, here we take a look at some of the most important items used in golf.
Early golf balls were made of beech and other hard woods, with leather-skinned balls stuffed with feathers (known as “featheries”) being introduced to the game in the 14th Century. In the mid-19th Century, a new substance called “gutta percha” (a type of latex derived from sapodilla tree of East Asia) was used to produce a new type of golf ball, called “gutties”. Gutties had similar flight characteristics to featheries, though were much less expensive. In the late 19th Century, dimple patterns were introduced to golf balls (known as “brambles” for their similarity to the blackberry). Brambles were replaced by “meshies” in the early 20th Century, when golf ball manufacturers began to experiment with mesh skins, creating recessed patterns on the surface of the ball. The design used by Fahad Al Rajaan and fellow golfers today was patented early in the 20th Century, but didn’t take off until the 1940s.
A golfer will carry several clubs throughout a match, though is permitted to carry no more than fourteen according to official golf rules. There are three types of golf club:
Players often use covers to protect their club heads from bad weather and from striking each other whilst in the bag. Additionally, covers make it easier to identify a club at a glance, and provide players with a personal touch to their clubs. Covers are often used for fairway woods and drivers, as these are particularly prone to damage whilst being transported.
Golf bags are typically used to transport golf clubs. Most modern golf bags are made from leather, nylon or canvas, with metal or plastic framing and reinforcement. Traditionally, golf bags have been made from a variety of materials, including elephant skin. Golf bags usually feature several pockets to make it easier to carry the various supplies and equipment required to make it around the course. Most bags are sectioned, with rigid supports for easier club selection. More expensive golf bags often feature pockets or sleeves within the main compartment of the bag to house individual clubs. There are several types of golf bags, the principal classes being:
- Stand bags.
- Carry bags.
- Sunday bags.
- Cart bags.
- Staff bags.
- Travel bags.
Golf carts are useful in transporting golfers and equipment around the course. Hand carts are made to house only the bag, and are employed by players when walking long stretches of the course to spare them having to take the weight of what could potentially be a very heavy bag. Carts that carry both the bag and the player are used more commonly on public golf courses. They are powered by electric, and battery motors with petrol-powered golf carts sometimes being used by golf course staff. The employment of motorised carts in the sport is growing very common because of a number of factors. The sheer length of modern golf courses combined with the requisite pace of play required by many clubs has been a major factor to the rising popularity of carts in the sport. The use of golf carts may be restricted by club rules, predominantly instigated to protect both the players and the course. There is a blanket ban on golf carts at most major PGA fixtures, where the player’s equipment is carried by a caddy.
Leading Golf Equipment Manufacturers
There are several big name golf equipment manufacturers today, including Callaway, Odyssey, TaylorMade, Ping, Titleist, Nike, Mizuno, Cleveland/Sxiron, Adams and Cobra.
Cobra Golf is an American golf equipment manufacturer based in Carlsbad, California. Cobra is a subsidiary company of Puma.
Cobra was founded in 1972, by Thomas L. Crow – the manufacturer produced the Baffler: one of the sport’s first utility clubs long before use of this type of club was popular.
Cobra manufactures high-end golf clubs, including irons, drivers, wedges, fairways and putters. The company has sponsored many golfing greats, including Jonas Blixt, Diego Valasquez, Anna Nordqvist, Rickie Fowler, Jason Gore, Lexi Thompson, Blair O’Neal, David Feherty, Johan Edfors, Jesper Parnevik and most famously, Greg Norman. Cobra signed a partnership with Honda Classic to sponsor the PGA Tour over multiple years.
Ping Golf is based in Phoenix, Arizona. The company was founded in 1959 by Karsten Solheim, a former General Electric Company engineer who began making putters at home in his garage. The name “Ping” was coined after the sound made by the metal club head striking the ball. Solheim’s company grew to become extremely successful. Ping’s Anser club, which was adopted in the 1966 PGA Tour, is regarded by many to have been the most influential putter in golfing history, setting the standard for the conventional putter and racking up some 500 professional golf wins in the process.