THE HISTORY OF THE GOLF CLUB
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Robert Forgan. Carrying on the Philp business after his uncle's death, Forgan traded under his own name. His brother James joined the company after a short while and it was the beginning of a very successful business which lasted for just over a century when finally the company was sold to Spalding when they transferred the operation to Ireland. At the peak of the Forgan era they employed 40-50 men and manufactured over 600 clubs per week exporting worldwide without compromising their very high quality standards. Robert's son Thomas joined the company in 1881 and soon the company name changed to 'R. Forgan & Son'. In 1863 Robert Forgan was commissioned to make a set of clubs for The Prince of Wales who had been elected Captain of the R & A. Soon after the company were given the Royal Warrant which allowed them to stamp the Prince's crest (three plumed feathers) on the head of their woods below their own name stamp. In 1901 when the Prince Edward became King he appointed R. Forgan & Son as official clubmakers to the King which then meant the three feathers could be replaced with the symbol of a Crown. Both the three feathers and crown stamps are synonymous with Forgan clubs making them very collectable items. Players in the early to mid 1800's would have used a set of clubs consisting of approximately nine types of varying woods. Paintings produced from this era often show the caddies carrying a bunch of clubs as bags were not used in those days, hence another reason as to why clubs were often damaged with the heads banging together and the shafts rubbing against each other.

There were often at least two Play Clubs (driver) included should one become broken during the game which was quite a common occurrence. These vintage clubs had long shafts of approx 45 inches. There was a club called the Grass Driver for use on the fairway plus two or three Spoons also for use on or just off the fairway and a wooden Niblick for use from more difficult lies in the rough. All of these clubs would normally have been fitted with a 'lead back weight' to help improve the overall balance of the club. The set was completed by including two or three different Putters. The Driving Putter was used to hit shots into the wind from quite a distance from the green. The Approach Putter had a lofted face and was used for shorter shots into the green and the Green Putter was used for actual putting as we do today. All these clubs would be of the Long-Nose variety. By the mid 1800's the game had become very popular and there were by then many club makers starting up in business mainly situated along the East coast of Scotland from Fife down to East Lothian. Names like Tom Morris Senior, Willie Park Senior, Alex Patrick, Ben Sayers and the Auchterlonie family, to name only a few, all became renowned for producing fine quality clubs that are very collectable today. Some of these people were also excellent players with Tom Morris Senior becoming an icon from that era not only as a clubmaker and course designer, but he also won the Open Championship four times in 1861-62-64-67. His son Tom Morris Junior also won the Open Championship four times in 1868-69-70-72. However 'Old Tom' was not the first to win the Open Championship, this accolade belongs to Willie Park Senior who won the first ever Open Championship in 1860 and then 1863-66-75.

The introduction of a new Gutta Percha 'hard' ball in 1848 was the beginning of the end for the long established Long-Nose club because not only was the ball not easy to get air borne due to the shallow face and flat surface of the Long-Nose wood, but also the slender necks of these clubs suffered 'stress' when continually being used to hit the new hard ball. So a shorter and more rounded head was eventually designed with a convex face known as the Bulger which was introduced around the mid 1880's. The name was derived due to the face of the club having a bulge. This club proved successful and very popular but had one drawback, the overall design of the Bulger was not pleasing to the eye so other models were then crafted to help give the head a more streamlined look and some returned to having a straighter face, again these proved to be popular models and by the end of the century most players were using this type of club. These vintage clubs are often referred to as 'Transitional Clubs' and like the Long-Nose before them they were fitted with lead backweights and some also had leather inserts on the club face. Some Bulger models were designed as fairway woods (2 Wood) and were fitted with a brass sole plate to help protect the sole of the club from the hard links surface. These clubs were known as a Brassie.

The Long-Nose and early Bulger models used a 'Scarehead' joint (spliced joint) to attach the shaft to the head of the club and these models are very much sort after nowadays. These clubs were also fitted with a piece of Ram's Horn on the leading edge of the sole. The joint was then glued and bound tightly using a waxed whipping cord with a small section of the joint still showing at the base of the whipping. This type of joint was beginning to disappear by the end of the early 1890's with the introduction of the 'Socket Head' joint with the rear club head being drilled either partially or right through for the shaft to be placed in and secured by glue. Scottish Beech and woods from various fruit trees had been used for many years for the club heads but during the 1890's they started to use the American wood Persimmon which offered a regular quality and this wood is still being used today. The shafts up until 1860 had always been made using either Ash or Hazel but with the arrival of Hickory from America a major change took place and virtually all club manufacturers started to use this type of wood from then onwards. Hickory became well established for the production of shafts until around 1920 when steel shafts started to appear on the market. However it was well into the 1930's before steel shafts replaced Hickory. One must also mention that some wooden clubs were made from one piece of wood, i.e. no join between the shaft and head. These were produced during the second period of the 19th century and were made from Ash and Hedgethorn. The club head would be shaped from the root. These type of clubs can be recognized due to the fact that there is no whipping around the base of the shaft. Other types of joints were patented by various manufacturers towards the end of the 19th century and these are now very collectable items.

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