This GCMA club is famous for… SANDWELL PARK

This club, run by Angus Mackenzie, witnessed the birth of steel shafted golf clubs…

People aren’t always great fans of change. We often like things to stay just as they are, but progress and technology wait for no one. Steel shafted golf clubs were actually invented in the late 1890s but, in the following decades, golfers just couldn’t shake their love of hickory.

Then Sandwell Park came along. In the 1920s, the West Bromwich course was the first British club to sanction a local rule that permitted the use of steel. Depending on whom you listen to, there are two versions of how this epoch-making moment in British golf came about.

Walter Hackett was a prominent club member and the top dog at Accles and Pollock, a metal tube manufacturer based at Oldbury. Hackett was a globetrotter. He often made trips to the United States where steel had already surpassed hickory. Picking up a set and bringing them back to use on the course, his new fangled sticks proved popular and soon plenty of members were ditching their old clubs. But it was not a seamless transition.

While the club committee forged on, and allowed their use in competitions, some members called a meeting looking to banish the metal newcomers from their fairways. A crunch meeting came in 1928 but the traditionalists were voted down and steel ruled at Sandwell. Another version of the tale says that Sid Saunders, also a club member, adapted cycle frames into golf club shafts during his work at Accles and Pollock.

It is claimed he perfected the art in 1912 and that Sandwell members had changed over long before Hackett came onto the scene. Whichever is right, what can’t be questioned is that Sandwell Park were pioneers. The R&A legalised the shafts on November 26, 1929 and issued rules the following year that allowed them to be used by all players.

By Marie J. Taylor

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