A player usually carries several clubs during the game (but no more than fourteen, the limit defined by the rules). There are three major types of clubs, known as woods, irons, and putters.
Originally, golf balls were made of a hardwood, such as beech. Beginning between the 14th and 16th centuries, more expensive golf balls were made of a leather skin stuffed with down feathers.
Originally, golf balls were made of a hardwood, such as beech. Beginning between the 14th and 16th centuries, more expensive golf balls were made of a leather skin stuffed with down feathers; these were called “featheries”. Around the mid-1800s, a new material called gutta-percha, made from the latex of the East Asian sapodilla tree, started to be used to create more inexpensive golf balls nicknamed “gutties”, which had similar flight characteristics as featheries.
These then progressed to “brambles” in the later 1800s, using a raised dimple pattern and resembling bramble fruit, and then to “meshies” beginning in the early 1900s, where ball manufacturers started experimenting with latex rubber cores and wound mesh skins that created recessed patterns over the ball’s surface. Recessed circular dimples were patented in 1910, but didn’t become popular until the 1940s after the patents expired.
A player usually carries several clubs during the game (but no more than fourteen, the limit defined by the rules). There are three major types of clubs, known as woods, irons, and putters. Woods are played for long shots from the tee or fairway, and occasionally rough, while irons are for precision shots from fairways as well as from the rough. A new type of club called a hybrid combines the straight-hitting characteristics of irons with the easy-to-hit characteristics of higher-lofted woods.
A hybrid is often used for long shots from difficult rough. Hybrids are also used by players who have a difficult time getting the ball airborne with long irons. Wedges are irons used to play shorter shots. Wedges are played from difficult ground such as sand or the rough and for approach shots to the green. Putters are mostly played on the green, but can also be useful when playing some approach shots. Putters have minimal loft, meaning the ball stays close to the ground when struck.
The most common clubs to make up a set used to be a driver, 3 and 5-woods, irons numbered from 3 to 9, pitching wedge, sand wedge, and putter. Modern sets commonly include hybrids, often replacing the longer irons and 5-wood, and/or additional wedges such as a gap or lob wedge. Players may choose to play with any combination of clubs, limited by the rules to a maximum of 14.
A golfer typically transports golf clubs in a golf bag. Modern golf bags are made of nylon, canvas and/or leather, with plastic or metal reinforcement and framing, but historically bags have been made from other materials. Golf bags have several pockets designed for carrying various equipment and supplies required over the course of a round of golf.
Virtually all bags are sectioned off with rigid supports at the top opening, both for rigidity and to separate clubs of various types for easier selection. More expensive bags have sleeves or pockets within the main compartment for each individual club, allowing for the desired club to be more easily removed from the bag and then returned without interference from the grips of the other clubs or internal hardware of the bag.
Golfers also often wear gloves that help grip the club and prevent blistering. Gloves are sold individually and normally worn only on the players’ non-dominant hand, but it is not unheard-of for a player to wear gloves on both hands to reduce chafing. The increased grip and control allows for harder swings to be made with more control, increasing distance.
Most golf bags have a ring to which a player can tie or clip a golf towel, used to wipe hands and clean or dry balls and club faces. Some of these towels can be quite specialized, with a carabiner or other clip to attach it to the bag with a grommet used on the towel for durability, and incorporating rougher materials in certain sections of the towel for club and ball cleaning with softer weaves elsewhere for drying. Other cleaning products abound, from motorized ball cleaners to an array of brushes for various types of clubs as well as balls and shoes.