Golfing enthusiasts and connoisseurs often delve into the history of golf to educate themselves on the origins of our beloved game and its intricacies and old golf club names.
Antique golf club names have changed considerably over the decades to the current bland names that you can associate with the number stamped on the bottom of the club.
According to Wikipedia, modern-day golf originated in Scotland in the 15th century.
The first 18-hole round was played at the St Andrews Old Course in 1764.
This necessitated golfers to become creative and develop some terminology keeping the game easily understandable.
Over the centuries terminology was refined and the names allocated to clubs in the earlier years have changed to our modern-day descriptions.
Today’s Comparison of the Old and the New Sets
Modern Day Name
- 1-Wood / Driver
- 7-wood, 8-wood, or 9-wood
Grass Club, Long Club, Play Club
Brassie, Long Spoon
Baffie, Baffing Spoon, WoodenCleek
Cleek, Driving Iron
Ancient golf clubs are now known by a blander description making them easier to understand but less creative.
Grass Club, Long Club, Play Club, Hickory Shafted Driver
These are many of the ancient names used for what we know today as the longest club that hits the ball the farthest, the golf driver.
Scraper, Brassie, Long Spoon
A brass plate on the sole of a 2-wood and 3-wood made the use of brassie popular for the 3-wood while the term Scraper was more associated with, what is extremely rare today, a 2-wood. You won’t find too many golfers that still use a 2-wood.
A 3-wood was also better known as a Long Spoon.
Baffie, Baffing Spoon
These were popular terms for fairway woods that had more loft than the 3-wood.
The term Spoon was used for the equivalent to a 4 or 5-wood while Baffing-Spoon or Baffie was related to a 7-wood.
The use of Spoon terminology stemmed from the clubhead that was shaped in the same manner as a spoon.
Middle Spoon, Wooden Cleek
The 4-wood clubs were also known as a middle Spoon or Wooden Cleek.
Another term bestowed on the 5-wood was the Short Spoon.
The clubface of these 5-wood predecessors varied in concavity since it was hand-made and not milled by precision tools as is the case today.
Although still available few golfers use a 7-wood, 8-wood, or even a 9-wood.
Early examples of these woods were called Wooden Head in the early days of golf.
The term Cleek goes back to the early days of golf and can be traced back to the mid-15th century.
Cleeks had an elongated blade-like metal clubhead with little loft in the same vein as the later 1-iron and 2-irons.
Although few golfers use a 1-iron it was popular then. Some golfers have now resorted to a 2-iron as a driving iron keeping in line with the term Cleek.
This term is often used for a 2-iron today but was designated to the 1-iron in the early days of golf until the 19th century.
Massie originates from the French word for a club, “Massue”.
A Mid-mashie was often used to describe what we know today as a 3-iron.
A golf club with the approximate loft found on today’s 4-iron was called a mashie iron until the 19th century.
This is the equivalent of a 5-iron in modern golf. A Mashie club was often used for approach shots and par 3s.
Its high loft made it ideal for a short course.
The use of the antique golf clubs’ names for clubs that could easily be used on a par 3 course led to these short courses becoming known as Mashie Courses.
Keeping in line with the Mashie term used for long-irons and mid-irons, a Spade Mashie is the equivalent of a modern 6-iron.
A mashie niblick golf club was used as a term for the equivalent of a modern 7-iron. Some golfers still use this nickname for one of the most popular clubs in your bag.
This was also the turning point for clubs changing over from a Mashie to a Niblick club.
Moving from the Mashie name into the Niblick moniker, this is similar in loft to the modern-day 8-iron.
The use of Niblick to describe the short iron led to the equivalent of a modern-day 9-iron being called a Niblick until the 19th century.
These clubs were often used to escape trouble or a rut in the field and were also called a Rut Niblick.
This was also the most lofted club available in the 19th century with the smallest rounded club head.
Niblick has its origins from the word neb or nib and refers to the description for “a little nose” which is quite appropriate for the small clubhead.
Before the invention of the modern-day wedges by Gene Sarazen, there was an iron aptly known as a Sand Iron due to its ability to get the golf ball out of the bunkers.
Today your sand Wedge is the heaviest club in your set of irons.
Track Iron, Rut Iron, Rutter
These are the forerunners to the current day small-headed wedges.
Few golfers readily admit to having a chipper in their bag. The Jigger was a low-lofted club with a short shaft in the same vein as today’s chippers.
Before putters developed into the distinctive style of putters available now, blade or mallet style, the old school golf clubs used for putting the golf ball into the cup was called a Putting Cleek.
I’m sure the putting part of the name gave that away before you started reading the explanation.
This referred to a range of clubs with lofts ranging from a modern-day 5-iron through 8-iron.
Few golf clubs had iron heads from the start, but these clubs had the archaic name of, surprisingly, heavy iron.
Sabbath Stick or Sunday Stick
The Church of Scotland frowned upon people that wanted to play golf on the Sabbath.
Improvising golfers disguised their club as a walking stick with the clubhead used as the part of the hand portion of the stick placed in the palm of their hand.
When no one else could see what they were up to, these golfers would continue to play golf.
The Editorial Staff at Golfible is a team of golfing geeks and enthusiasts led by founder Alec Rose. All have the same obsession with golf tech, equipment updates and avoiding rain on the course.