Although the earliest written reference to golf dates from 1457, the oldest clubs in existence are believed to date from the 16th or 17th century. Iron heads from this period were made by blacksmiths, whilst the woods with their long heads exhibit design features commonly used by bow makers. Wooden headed clubs were used more than irons due to the feathery ball in use at the time. Clubmakers only started to mark the clubs they made from the late 1700â€™s onwards so it impossible to attribute any of the early clubs with definitive makers. All this changed in the late 1700â€™s when clubmakers such as Andrew Dickson and Simon Cossar started stamping their names into the clubs they made, whilst the McEwan family used a thistle emblem. A reasonable number of these early clubs still survive within public and private collections. In the early 1800â€™s Hugh Philp became renowned as a master maker, as did John Jackson and Allan Robertson. It is testament to Philp that other lesser makers were known to stamp his name into their clubs in the hope of securing a sale. It is hard to say but possibly a hundred genuine Philp clubs still exist today. In the middle of the 1800â€™s a new generation of makers including Tom Morris, Willie Park Snr, Robert Forgan, the Dunn and Patrick families, served the Scottish populaceâ€™s golfing needs. Many of these men were also very skilled feather ball, and later gutta percha ball, makers. The Forgan and Park operations grew steadily over several decades and by 1890 they were supplying clubs to many parts of the world that were just discovering the game of golf. Between 1890 and 1910 the number of golfers worldwide increased by an astonishing factor of one hundred. Many more companies in Great Britain and the United States with mechanised production equipment quickly entered the hugely expanding market and the dominance of the old-school Scottish makers was rapidly eroded.
Distinguished Golf Club Makers
Anderson, David & Sons, St.Andrews 1893-1915
Son of old â€œOld Daâ€ Anderson who was a feathery ball maker and kept a ginger beer stall on the Old Course. The hole is still called Ginger Beer.
Anderson, James Snr, St.Andrews
Elder brother of David Anderson. Open Champion golfer 1877, 78, 79.
Anderson, James Jnr, St.Adrews
Son of James Anderson the champion golfer. Set up company with David Blythe called Anderson & Blythe of St.Andrews.
Anderson, Robert & Sons, Edinburgh.
A renowned company producing golf clubs and fishing rods.
Army & Navy Cooperative Stores Ltd, London.
This huge global mail order company entered the golf club market in the 1880â€™s and retailed sets made by existing makers under their own brand. Club heads and shafts are typically stamped A.N.C.S.L
Several generations of clubmakers based in St.Andrews where the shop still resides today close to the 18th green of the Old Course.
Ayres, F.H, London
A sporting equipment retailer.
Open Champion golfer in 1901, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1910.
He and his assistants made and sold clubs when he was the resident professional at Romford, and later Walton Heath, Golf Courseâ€™s.
Cossar, Simon, Leith Nr Edinburgh.
One of the first clubmakers to stamp his clubs. He was born in 1766 and died in 1811.
One of five golf club making brothers, and was Open Champion golfer in 1883. He was the resident professional at Troon Golf Club between 1896 and 1915.
George Forrester, Elie, Fife
Made clubs between 1889 and 1915
Although born in Scotland he was the resident professional at Royal North Devon Golf Club between 1888 and 1937.
Gibson & Company, William
One of the biggest golf club making companies of all time. Gibson was born in 1868.
A star was stamped on the iron heads of his clubs. Common lines of clubs include the "Star A", "The Maxwell" ( which has a series of holes in the hosel designed to transfer weight balance intot he head, the "Hugh Logan Genii" range, and the "Autograph" models named after famous players. He also produced some patent clubs including the rare Murray scare-neck iron.
Goudie & Co. Edinburgh, Glasgow.
Sold equipment between 1870 and 1920.
Started in 1893 and continued until the 1930's. The heads are stamped with half-moons, anchors and horseshoes.
Gray & Sons, Cambridge
One of the oldest sports retailors in the University city. The made golf clubs between 1880 and 1910.
Born in 1824 John Gray was perhaps the first cleek maker to stamp his clubs ( Jn.GRAY ). His clusb are very rare and valuable.
Halley, J.B. London
J.B.Halley was a very sports retailer and most of their clubs date from 1900 to 1930. Their marks included and pyramid, crossed swords, and letter H in a circle, and a sea-shell.
Hendry & Bishop, Edinburgh
A very large company produces clubs. Their most common mark is a Bishops hat called a Mitre. They also made the huge giant niblicks which are very rare. They were in business from 1900 to 1930.
Hiatt & Company, Birmingham
Made iron club heads for only a couple years 194/95.
Hutchinson, J.H North Berwick
Produced high quality clubs in the 1880's and 1890's.
Imperial Golf Company, Sunderland
Produced a range of aluminium headed clubs almost identical to hose produced by the Standard Goolf Company, also located in Sunderland.
Jackson, Andrew St.Andrews
Trained under Tom morris and produced long nose clubs of the highest quality. Many long nose clubs stamped "Tom Morris" are likely to have been actually made by Jackson.
Jackson, John. Perth
An early known club maker producing wooden long-nose clubs between 1830 and 1870.
Johnson, Frank. London
Produced clubs for ten years between 1901 and 1911. His mark was a key.
Patented the first golf club in 1876. This was a club head made of a hardened rubber type material christened vulcanite.
Leyland , Birmingham
The Leyland Corporation was huge and manufactured a huge number of items from bags to cars. Their most common mark is the letters L.L.M.B in a triangle.
London Golf Company
Produced clubs for a few years arounf 1905. They also produced the rare Cuirass steel faced wood.
One of the oldest families involved in making clubs. The earliest made by James McEwan date from the 1700's, have a thistle as an emblem, and are very rare. His son Peter took over in about 1800. His son Douglas took over in the 1830's and the firm grew in size. His son (another) Peter became involved in 1846. This Peter had five sons who all became club makers in different parts of the UK.
Sold many thousdands of clubs under his trade names of The Glasgow Golf Company and Thistle Golf Company dating 1910 to 1930.
Morris, John ( known as Jack )
Nephew of Old Tom Morris he was the professional at the Royal Liverpool Golf club (Hoylake) between 1869 and 1929.
Morris, Tom ( Old Tom Morris )
He started as an apprentice feathery ball maker to Alan Robertson in St.Andrews, and made his first clubs when he moved to become the "Keeper of the Green" at Prestwick in 1850. He returned to open a shop in Hugh Philp's old premises opposite the 18th green in St.Andrews in 1867 and started to grow his club making business. He was a friend to the upcoming cleek maker Tom Stewart. Tom died in 1908 aged 87. The company continued after his death under the guidance of Hugh Logan. Tom Morris's eldest son, Tommy died tragically young aged 24 in 1874 after having won the Open Championship three times in a row. His other son Jimie predeceased his father in 1906.
Nicoll, George. Leven, Fife
George started as a blacksmith in the 1880's and grew his firm into one of the largest and most reputable makers. His early clubs are just stamped G.Nicoll Leven. He introduced the vertical hand mark in 1898 and this was used for many decades in slightly different forms. The firm continued in one form or another until 1983.
"Old Willie" was born in 1834, won the first Open Championship in 1860 and made clubs at Musselburgh.
Park, William, Jnr
"Young Willie" was born in 1864 and won his first Open Championship in 1887. Willie Jnr was responsible for expanding the business hugely and he also became the most sought after golf course designer/ architect. In 1896 he published his book "The Game of Golf" which became a best-seller.
Known as the second oldest firm in clubmaking next to the McEwans, the business spanded several generations starting with John making clubs around 1840. His son Alex was born in 1845 was responsible for establishing the successful club and ball making company. Alex's four brothers and three sons also joined the family firm and its operations grew. The firms' fortunes changed sometime around the 1930's and it ceased trading.
Born in Musselburgh in 1857 Peter worked at different locations from 1880 to 1907 and was an inventive and much respected club maker and designer.
Philp, Hugh. St.Andrews
Born in 1782 Philp worked initially as a carpenter before being appointed as the official club maker to what was to become the R & A in 1819. His shop was opposite the 18th green at St.Andrews. His long nose clubs are perhaps the most sought after in the world and extremeley valuable. It is known that replicas were being made within a few years of his death in 1856.
Rodwell & Co. Charles. London
Born in 1887 he opened his first shop in 1904. He produced many thousands of high quality clubs.
St.Andrew Golf Company
Sherlock, Ray and Turner
Standard Golf Company
White, Robert St.Andrews
Winton & Company