St Andrews, Prestwick, Leith or the Bruntsfield links is where golf all started with records dating back to the 16th century. Although many other forms can be found with Dutch kolf played in the 13th century or the Roman equivalent called Paganica played 2000 years ago it is only in Scotland that we can find the game of golf that we play today.
The equipment is an important aspect of the games history with clubs made by Philp McEwan or Anderson as three examples of the more famous clubmakers of their day. Materials such as beech, limewood and various fruit woods were used to produce the longnose clubs made to play on the links. The wooden heads were ideal for striking the soft featherie balls which were so named because of goose or chicken feathers being tightly stuffed into a stitched leather sack. Further big changes happend as a result of the Gutty ball being introduced - much harder and therefore damaging to the old woods meant the development of cleeks or iron clubs.
The early successful players were normally the same men who made the equipment to be played with or the caddies that carried the clubs (bags were not invented until the late 19th century). The most famous name of the early period is Tom Morris who became the keeper of the St Andrews green. Morris was followed by the Englishman Harry Vardon who formed part of the great Triumvirate of the early 1900`s, the other two were James Braid and J.H. Taylor who won 16 British opens between them.
Continuing on further into the new century equipment returned as the major issue with the Haskell ball and its inner core adding a new element of length to the game. Players of the period emerging included Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and most importantly Bobby Jones.
With the thirties came the last real equipment improvement for the next fifty years with the popularity of steel shafts. Based on the now stronger shafts a more efficient golf swing using less hand activity and greater power developed. By the time the second world war arrived the major players were led by Ben Hogan with his main challengers being Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Jimmy Demaret.
The sixties saw a new interest in golf boosted by the new television media and Arnold Palmer. Marketing with Mark McCormac was the face of the furture. Jack Nicklaus took the mantle of the king from Palmer and continued his dominance into the mid-seventies when Tom Watson won a series of battles with the Golden Bear (as Nicklaus was known) and ended the reign of the greatest player of all time.
With the eighties and nineties equipment was beginning to influence the swings again. Lighter materials were being introduced and the head sizes of drivers were increasing as metal woods (Pittsburgh persimmon) eliminated the five hundred year usage of wooden heads. New two piece balls were flying up to twenty yards further than only recently used equivalents with far more efficiency.
The end of the century saw the culminating effect of all the more recent developing factors combined. Tiger Woods, with multi-million dollar marketing contracts, a new age swing based on core power and vetted since he was two years old Tiger represented modern golf and stood an age and more away from all his contemporaries - Now let`s see what the 21th century brings.