Did you realize that all golf clubs are made of three components. The head, the grip, and the shaft. Not exactly earth shaking news. All manufacturers build clubs from these three components. Once again, nothing earth shaking. But where do the components come from?
Taylor Made and Nike and all the other brands don’t actually manufacturer any of the golf club components themselves (except for Ping). They do design the clubheads and select the shafts and grips they want to use but actual manufacturing is done in China.
Let’s take a look at each type of golf club component and see how each effects the overall playability of a club for each golfer.
The face of the clubhead is obviously the part that impacts the ball (or at least we hope it is). The features and design of the clubhead effects how the club works for us. Variables like the size of the hitting area, the hardness and rebound of the face, how solid the contact feels, high or low ball flight, are all impacted by the clubhead.
For an average golfer the clubhead plays a big part in how easy the club is to hit and for an advanced golfer it plays a big part in feel and control. Certain features effect what happens when the ball is hit off the toe or the heel. They can even effect how the impact sounds.
Other features effect how the clubhead interacts with varying lies and terrain, how easily the club moves through long grass and sand. Yes, there’s lots of things a designer can do to make the clubhead do what we need it to.
The Clubhead Over The Years
For hundreds of years the clubhead was relatively unchanged. The hand forging process was limited in terms of how much could be changed on an iron’s head. Woods were made of …well wood. There wasn’t a lot that could be done except to try and find the hardest wood possible.
When Karsten Solheim of Ping used his aeronautical engineering background to design the first perimeter weighted, offset putters and later irons he changed the course of golf and made the game a lot easier for the average golfer. Since then his design concepts have evolved and improved and now we have the category of Super Game Improvement irons that offer maximum forgiveness to the average golfer.
Perimeter weighting, cavity backs, wide soles, thick toplines and low-back centers of gravity are all concepts that have become the standards of how to build clubs that make the game easier. We have Karsten to thank for that.
On the other hand, a better golfer who has fine tuned hand-eye coordination, a superior clubhead feel in his hands, and the skill to make the clubhead perform tricks, may find the forgiveness offered by these features detrimental. Clubs that are designed to go straight and high may not offer the flexibility required to make the ball move in all directions and at different trajectories. They need the feel and workability that a club with no offset, thin toplines and minimal cavity back offers.
Better golfers prefer clubs that have classic shapes, simple back weighting and minimal game improvement features. They prefer forged clubs rather than investment cast clubs. They like the softer feel of forged carbon steel (compared to the typical stainless steel) and the head shapes they may have been using all their lives.
Still another golfer may want something in between the Super Game Improvement club type and the Players club type. Thankfully, with the wide variety of clubheads available all three golfers can have the best clubs for them.