The industrial revolution of the 18th century brought large changes to the population of the the United kingdom. People swarmed into the towns and cities, and they prospered as national and international trade grew. The average middle-class man also had Saturday afternoon's off which many Scots used for playing the fast growing pastime of golf.
The game of golf spread to the outer edges of the British Empire with clubs being formed at Bangalore in 1820 and Calcutta in 1829.
Hickory imported from North America became favoured over Ash as the wood of choice for many hand tools and golf club club makers began to adopt it for shaft making.
With more players flocking to the links several general carpenters and trading companies local to the dozen or so clubs that existed in Scotland began advertising themselves as specialist golf club or golf ball makers. The more well known include:
The McEwan Family
Hugh Philp started as a general joiner, but his skill and reputation grew rapidly and in 1819 he was appointed Official Clubmaker to the Society of Golfers of St.Andrews (later renamed the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St.Andrews in 1834 ). Philp opened a small shop near the Union Parlour public house and took as his apprentices both James Wilson and his nephew through marriage Robert Forgan ( who later established the largest golf club making business in the world ). Philp's clubs were so coveted that other makers were known to stamp their clubs with his name, and it is said that three times as many clubs were stamped with his name than were actually made in his workshops.
Allan Robertson was a club maker also, of which only a few specimens still exist, but he is mostly known for his skill in making feathery golf balls. He took as his apprentices Tom Morris ( who in his lifetime became celebrated as the architypal golf professional the world over ) and Lang Willie and the three of them worked from Allan kitchen, with balls being sold through an open window. Allan's business records show that he sold 1021 balls in 1840, 1392 balls in 1841 and by 1842 teh number had grew to 2456 balls. Legend has it that one day in the late 1840's Tom ran out of featheries whilst playing golf on a particular nasty day on the links and was loaned a new type of gutta-percha golf ball by his playing partner to complete the round. When Allan heard of this so called betrayal he promptly terminated Tom's employment. However, within a few months Allan was known to be producing gutta-percha balls himself after realising the new balls were more robust and cheaper.
Developments in golf
1806 – The selected Captain of St. Andrews Golf Club drives himself into office being the only competitor in the monthly meeting. Prior to this it was an open competition, but the elder memebrs voted for a change in the rules having been outplayed by talented youths!
1834 - The King grants the title of "Royal & Ancient" to the Society of St.Andrews Golfers.
1836 – The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers moves from Leith Links to Musselburgh.
A typical set of clubs of this period was very much like that used for the preceding 400 years, although many players had adopted small headed irons for playing from troublesome spots ( usually called Rut or Track irons ), and irons with very little loft ( called cleeks ) were becoming popular as fairway conditions improved. Additionally a few players began using very heavy iron headed putters. However, wooden clubs were still very much in the majority due to the continued use of the feathery ball.
Wooden Playclub or Driver ( Driver )
Wooden Grassed Driver or Long Spoon( 3 wood )
Wooden Middle Spoon ( 5 wood )
Wooden Short Spoon ( 7 wood )
Wooden Baffing Spoon ( 9 wood )
Cleek ( Iron headed club with little loft- 2 or 3 iron )
Rut or Track Iron ( very small headed lofted Wedge )
Wooden or Iron Bladed Putter