Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Golf club (equipment)
Golf is played with golf clubs of various types. There are four major categories of clubs, known as woods, "hybrids," irons, and putters. Wedges resemble irons and may also be counted among these. A golfer is allowed to carry up to fourteen clubs during a round.
While it is possible to play a range of different shots using only one club, modifying only the speed and direction of swing, this is not a particularly successful technique. Far easier is it to keep the swing as constant as possible and achieve different lengths and characteristics of ball flight using a different club for each shot. To facilitate the choice of a club for any particular situation, all irons (and many woods and wedges) come in sets of similar clubs graded by loft (see below), shaft length, and weight. Clubs are numbered for identification with the smallest numbers indicating the lowest loft.
Various clubs are designed with the face having differing loft (the angle between a vertical plane and the clubface when the club is at rest). Perhaps with the exception of tee shots, it is loft that makes a golf ball leave the ground, not an upward direction of swing: for some shots with a particularly high trajectory such as pitches, the club actually hits the ball in a downward motion, and with most other shots the motion is more or less horizontal. Typically, the greater the loft, the higher and shorter the resulting ball trajectory.
A typical set of clubs may consist of irons 3 to 9, three wedges, woods 1, 3, and 5, and a putter.
- Woods are long clubs for long shots, with a shaft length about 40-45 inches or 100-115 cm. They have large heads that are somewhat spherical in shape with a slightly bulging clubface and a flattened bottom that slides over the ground without digging in during the stroke. Originally the "wood" heads were made of wood but modern club heads are usually made of hollow steel or titanium, sometimes filled with foam. The shaft enters the wood off-center, in such a way that the face of the wood is roughly at a right angle to one side of the shaft. Woods are used for the longest shots, ranging from 200 to 300 yards (180-275 m). The typical loft for wood faces ranges from 6 to 26 degrees. The 1 wood is usually referred to as a driver.
- Irons are used for shorter shots than woods, especially including shots approaching the greens. Irons typically range from 36 to 40 inches (90-100 cm) in length. Iron heads are typically solid with a flat clubface. The typical lofts for irons range from 16 to 60 degrees. "Long" and intermediate irons (i.e. those with a lower loft) are usually played from fairway or other easy ground. "Short" irons (with a higher loft) are played from difficult ground and especially for approach shots to the green.
- Wedges are irons with a loft of more than approximately 50 degrees. Pitching wedges are rather similar to other irons. Sand wedges have specially designed undersides that make them suitable for shots from bunkers or from the rough. Lob Wedges have a very high loft and are used for approach shots or from sand.
- Putters come in a variety of head shapes and have a very low loft and often a short shaft. They are used to play the ball on the green, but may occasionally be useful for playing from bunkers or for some approach shots.
The parts of a club are the shaft (with grip) and the head. The shaft is a tapered tube made of metal, or graphite fiber. The shaft is roughly 1/2 inch in diameter (12 mm) near the grip and between 35 to 45 inches (89-115 cm) in length. The end of the shaft opposite the head is covered with a rubber or leather grip for the player to hold. The head is the part that hits the ball. Each head has a face which contacts the ball during the stroke (but the head of a putter may have two faces).
Traditionally, most metal golf club heads were made by forging, which involves the careful shaping of the club head through hammering and pressing of heated steel. Today, most modern golf club heads are cast. Forged clubs are still prized for feel while cast clubs often have modern game improvement characteristics.
The ruling authorities of golf, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) reserve the right to define what shapes and physical characteristics of clubs are permissible in tournament play. Several recently developed woods have a marked "spring-like effect" (i.e. a strong rebound of the ball from the clubface) resulting in very high ball speeds and great lengths of tee shots. Current USGA and R&A regulations differ with respect to acceptable limits of the "spring-like effect". Therefore, a few club types may not be played in tournament or professional play under USGA jurisdiction, but are allowed elsewhere.
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