The hickory shaft golf club used a light-weight hickory in lieu of steel.
Albert Goodwill (A.G.) Spalding, a pitcher for the Boston Red Stockings, was the first professional ever to win 200 games. Spalding led Boston to four consecutive National Association titles before coming to Chicago by contract in 1876. After he stopped pitching in the 1877 baseball season, Spalding became a full-time businessman, producing and promoting sporting goods. Hickory Golfers calls Spalding one of the all-time best American golf club makers to look for, especially for the driver.
In 1877, A.G. Spalding opened a sporting goods business using an $800 loan he got from his mother, and started manufacturing baseballs. Spalding paid the National League to use his balls, so that he might advertise them as the “official” league ball. Spalding and his company went on to create golf clubs, tennis rackets, and basketballs.
Steel golf clubs strengthened power and precision.
In 1900, Spalding opened golf club factories in London and in Fife, Scotland. The factories manufactured forged iron heads–clubs made of pounded steel and a small inset–which the company sold in the U.K. and the United States. Spalding clubs were sold widely across America, bringing in big profits.
Apart from forged steel clubs, Spalding launched several kinds of “hickory-shafted” models made of hickory wood in lieu of steel. This club and others experimented with how materials could improve distance and precision for both professional and novice players.
In 1910, the Spalding company introduced the aluminum fairway clubs series. From 1910 to 1919, the Gold Medal series, made of aluminum bronze, sold widely. The “Cran Cleek” club became a Spalding top seller. Cleek denotes a head shape with a shallow inset and little tapering from the club shaft to the head.
1920s and 30s
The A.G. Spalding & Brothers company used the process of “drop forging” to manufacture metal club heads. Other clubmakers, like the Scottish club maker Carruthers, used traditional methods to shape metal heads with an anvil and forge. Like Henry Ford’s assembly-line Model Ts, Spalding workers used mechanical hammers to create the heads, drill sockets, and fit the shaft into the head, and polish them en masse. The company experimented throughout the 1920s and 1930s with both hickory and steel shapes and weights.
According to the papers of Edwin L. Parker, the president of A.G. Spalding and Brothers, Inc. in the 1960s, Parker periodically provided fomer president Dwight Eisenhower with Spalding golf clubs and golf balls for the president’s personal use.
In February 1968, while using a golf ball manufactured by Spalding, Eisenhower hit a hole-in-one at the El Dorado Country Club in Palm Desert, California. Eisenhower’s staff later sent the ball to Parker as a souvenir.