Sand wedges, bunkers, ball history, and characters from the history of golf.
The club we know as a sand wedge today owes its relatively short history to a number of influencing factors. One of the biggest influencers was the bunker.
Not many facts are known about when and where the bunker really came from, but it would seem our forefathers were not especially aware of the difficulties the holes in the ground with sandy surroundings caused them.
They took little time to create a specialized club to overcome their problems. The likely reason for this was firstly the ball that was in use until the middle of the nineteenth, the feathery, and secondly the different technique required if using iron clubs.
Perfect land for a links course. Ancient "lawnmowers" strolling on the sandy soil in the foreground.
The struggling golfers with their poor swings could not risk using implements that would destroy an expensive (and sometimes difficult to obtain) golf ball with one bad shot.
For this reason, wooden-headed clubs with their limited play possibilities dominated the game (sets of clubs did not appear until later) into the second half of the nineteenth century.
Although the first iron club to appear had a spurred toe, it was the rut iron that started the iron club evolvement. An implement used to extract the ball out of the many cart tracks and mud pits to be found on most courses.
The first big evolutionary step in equipment was the rapid popularity of the Gutty ball. Replacing the feathery in the mid-nineteenth century, it was, amongst other improved qualities, far more durable than its fragile predecessor.
The number of iron clubs was increased and the golf set was established over the next twenty years. One of the great artists of this transition period was Jamie Anderson, winner of the Open Championship for three consecutive years. Jamie developed his own technique for lofting the ball out of difficult lies.
The animation of Jamie Anderson demonstrates the creative genius the players of the past were required to possess.
Almost as if the great players of this time wanted to preserve their elite status the lofts of the play clubs never went beyond that of an eight iron (comparing with modern equipment). The status remained in place into the twentieth century.
John Ball played an impressive shot from the bunker using his Mashie club (8 iron loft).
He called it his "Dunch" shot.
The "Dunch" shot- whose origin comes from the Scottish vocabulary=To knock, bump, nudge.
Even Seve would have been proud of this!
Ball successfully plays the `Dunch` shot. Using a straight-faced iron to negotiate a high-banked bunker.
The method involved a full backswing and a short through swing. Clearly, he is using the deceleration to add loft to the club-genius
John Ball belonged to a time in the past where the amateurs could compete with the best professionals
The sand wedge was invented and patented in 1928, by Edwin Kerr MacClain.
A struggling amateur had finally started the increased loft proceedings.
"It is an object of my invention to provide a club equipped with a wing or guide so shaped as to impart an upward flight to the .ball'when struck to prevent the clubhead from sinking too deeply into the material below the ball, thus deflecting the blade of the club upwardly and increasing the ease and accuracy with which the
ball may be moved from the sand or any other given spot."
MacClain wrote on his application
MacClain was an extremely poor bunker player and invented the club to reduce his suffering.
Perhaps ironically, it was one of the best players of this time, Walter Hagen who was given credit for the invention. The club was sold by Wilson who stamped the Hagen logo on it.