The trials & tribulations of the worlds most frustated golfer.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Jiggers, cleeks, baffing spoons and niblicks

Yes. Jiggers, cleeks, baffing spoons and niblicks. Or should that be mashie niblicks ? To the golfing readers out there the word niblicks may have given the game away. The moniker of niblick was given to a nine iron in the not too distant past. Then there's the wonderfully named rutting iron, along with its cousins the tracking iron and the rake. The rake is a particularly bizzare golfing implemenet by todays exacting standards. It sort of resembles a large dinner fork, with the prongs pointing to the sky, on the end of a normal shaft. (pictured below this article) It was supposedly a device that enabled the poor golfer who had got hiself into a spot of bother, a la shallow water or wet sand (only wet sand mind you. for the dry stuff the normal sand iron would surfice. Unless you were playing a round before the mid 1930's, in which case you would be buggered. Because the sand wedge, was not invented by Gene Sarazen until 1932) Similar water clubs included the brilliantly named water iron and the president.

The lower edge of the sand wedge blade (called a "flange") is shaped with a very pronounced and long angle of bounce, so that the club is able to resist a trajectory that would take it deep into the sand. With a heavy weighted end at the bttom to help maintain a strong momentum through the sand. Exactly what, they did before Sarazens masterpiece of engineering, I shudder to think. I imagine it was something like a Laurel & Hardy movie, with several golfers all marroned in a bunker. Every now and then bashing wildly at their gutter percha's. (see next paragraph)

Prior to the 1840's all golf balls were individually made by stuffing goose feathers tightly.into a leather case. in fact so tightly did they need to be stuffed that the ribs of these early golfing artizans were ofen broken by the sheer effort needed. In the late 1840s, feathery balls were being replaced by spheres of gutta percha, a substance derived from the sap (latex) of certain Malaysian trees. The prototype had been molded by Robert Paterson in 1845. These balls, called "gutties", were less expensive to make and proved more durable than the feathery.

Er.. sorry about that. for a few paragraphs there I appeared to fall into historical text book mode. Anyway, back to the wierd and wonderfully named clubs of yesteryear. where were we ? Ah the Baffing spoons should be next methinks. In those days they really did call a spade a spade. The baffing spoon was a wood that was spoon shaped and they used it for baffing the ball. Yes it was actually concave like a spoon! There were also clubs specially made to do the job of nicking balls from in between tree roots and divots named jiggers.

I cant but feel that todays drivers, you cant drive. Woods that aren't made of wood and irons numbered 3 to 9, just dont evoke anything like the same images as those strangely named clubs of our great grandfathers day. Am i alone in this ?


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