Some of history’s most inventive golf clubs just didn’t survive the test of time.
When golf’s governing bodies introduced a 14-club limit to competition play in the 1930s, a whole family of clubs, many of them designed for a single use, faded away. Following are a few examples of what we think of as golf’s 15th clubs–inventive golf clubs that just missed the cut.
The Spur Toe. I fell in love with the Spur Toe from the moment I saw its picture. The Spur Toe was designed for hitting off of hardpan and out of rocky areas that would otherwise damagewood-headed clubs. The head is such an unusual shape it reminds one of the blacksmith version of a “spork” (half spoon/half fork).
The Water Iron. The donut of golf clubs, water irons were essentially niblicks with a hole cut out of the center to help golfers play out of casual water lies. A notable model dubbed the “President,” an 18th century author writing about the club commented that “it’s called the President because it’s clear-headed.”
Rake Iron. Also called the sand rake, the rake iron featured teeth in a variety of configurations—including on the leading edge, the trailing edge, and although I’ve never seen one, some models likely integrated both. Some teeth resembled those of a shark, while others were both wide and straight, like a picket fence.
Rut Iron. The grounds of St. Andrews were shared by European footballers, archers, golfers, and even horse-and-buggy rigs that transported items such as seaweed and sand. Over time, cart wheels left ruts in the course that were considered run-of-the-mill hazards. Shaped roughly to wheel width and with a significant loft, the Rut Iron performed as promised, getting the pellet up and out of trouble.
Shankless Iron. One can only imagine the frustration of this club’s inventor. The shankless iron moved the hosel to a higher, rear-positioned location that made it nearly impossible to hit a hosel rocket.