Since its humble beginning over 500 years ago in Edinburgh, there has been continuous development of new and innovative equipment introduced to golf. It is important that golfers have the correct equipment for their own golf game, in order to maximise performance on course.
Let’s start with the golf bag itself
The first golf bags were introduced to the market in the 1880s. They took the form of a burlap sack and by 1890 they became sleeves, half a bag with a handle and a stand. Rudimentary as they were, they were quickly re-designed to canvas and leather bags with metal tops and protective undersides; these designs were popular in the early 1900s.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s this no-frills style remained popular, until the need for additional equipment encouraged a change throughout golf. Fast-forward to 1939, the year that saw the United States Golf Association (USGA) set a 14-club maximum for use in professional golfing events. This paved the way for the development of new, more durable golf bags and equipment, and manufacturers were given specific instructions on how to design products that met the needs of both professional and amateur golfers.
Until 1970, golf bags remained bulky and heavy, until the creation of modern-day golf bags, which are much lighter, sleeker pieces of equipment.
What else has changed in golfing equipment?
The first critical change in golf technology was the material of the drivers and clubs. Both the USGA and the R&A (The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews) ruled in the mid-twentieth century that golf clubs with steel shafts could be used in tournaments. While steel was used for club shafts, until the 1970s, wooden heads were the standard for drivers and fairway woods.
Following that, we saw the emergence of new technology that aided the average golfer and professionals in changing the way they transport and use their equipment.
The first golf ball was known as the feathery, consisting of a leather sack filled with boiled goose feathers, which was stitched up and painted. These were invented in 1618, and typically only the wealthy could afford to use feathered golf balls due to them being expensive and easily damaged.
From 1848, the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree was used to make the Gutty golf ball. It had a rubbery feel to it and could be heated and shaped while still hot. The introduction of the gutta percha ball, or "gutty," revolutionised golf and allowed it to reach a wider audience.
In 1899, George Grant invented and patented the first golf tee. Prior to the invention of tees, golfers carried buckets of sand from hole to hole and built sand mounds from which to take their shot.
The primary reason for wearing a golf glove is to improve grip. A golf glove is tackier than skin, which helps to prevent the club from twisting in a player's hand, especially in hot weather. The first glove intended for golf was patented in 1885 - before then, wooden-shafted clubs with grips made of leather were a popular choice among golfers.
What do pros keep in their golf bags?
There is a range of technology available to golfers today, and while the conventional golf bag will contain clubs, golf balls, tees and gloves, golf bag essentials have changed over time.
A golf ball marker is a little instrument that is used to indicate a golf ball's position on the green. This is done to give other players the opportunity to putt while you pick up your own ball.
Distance measuring devices (DMD)/rangefinders
DMDs have been around since the turn of the twenty-first century, and they have been increasingly common in the recent decade. Almost every golfer had a DMD by the end of 2019, whether it was a GPS unit or a laser rangefinder. A laser rangefinder works by pointing at a target, bouncing a laser off of it, and measuring the distance.
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