Golfing Equipment

clubs set & bag.jpg
Outside of the UK and USA, where well-kept municipal courses abound and green fees are accessible, golf is still something of an elite sport because of the high costs of equipment, tuition and green fees.
The cheap solution is of course to beg and borrow a skeleton set of clubs from friends or relatives, or buy that beginner’s set second hand, allowing oneself the luxury of a new set once the handicap is attained. Still, even a basic equipment for golf is quite sophisticated, comprising azs it does:
§         A set of clubs of different types (woods, irons, putters)
§         Golf balls (in abundance when you begin!)
§         A golf bag and cart to carry the clubs around the course (just the bag is the macho option)
§         Tees to strike the ball from
§         Pencils for scoring, marking pins to mark the ball’s position on greens
§         Small towels to wipe debris off balls and clubs
§         Then there is golfing wear: spiked shoes for better grip are essential, and so is a leather glove (left-hand for right-handers and viceversa). The rest of the attire is down to individual taste, though most clubs have rules about (not) playing in shorts and tank tops, and to weather conditions. It is important that tops have ample arm and elbow room, to allow for a free swinging movement when hitting that n° 1 wood at the tee-off.
 
GOLF CLUBS
Golf clubs are composed of a shaft with a lance (grip) on the top end and a clubhead on the bottom. Woods are used for long-distance fairway shots; irons, the most versatile class, are used for a variety of shots, and putters, are used to roll the ball into the cup. Only 14 clubs are allowed in a player's bag at one time during a stipulated round.
A full set of clubs consists of a driver, two fairway woods (generally 3- and 5-woods), a set of irons from 3 to 9, a pitching wedge, a sand wedge, a putter, and one more club of the player's choice. Many players opt to avoid the long irons (that many find difficult to hit), and replace them with more forgiving clubs, like hybrids.
An important variation in different clubs is loft, or the angle between the club's face and the vertical plane. It is loft that makes a golf ball leave the tee on an ascending trajectory, not the angle of swing. The impact of the club compresses the ball, while grooves on the clubface give the ball backspin (a clockwise spin when viewed from a parallel standpoint to the left of the ball). The majority of woods and irons are labeled with a number; higher numbers indicate shorter shafts and higher lofts, which give the ball a higher and shorter trajectory.
 
CLUB TECHNOLOGY
The technology of manufacturing golf clubs has made leaps from the early days of all-wood clubs.
The key variables on which manufacturers work are construction materials and club engineering, distinguishing for the latter between the grip, the shaft and the face.
Construction materials for top level clubs are now increasingly composite in nature. For example, the US manufacturer Callaway makes use of carbon composite materials for some of its drivers in order to move weight from areas of the club head where it’s not needed to where it’s most needed.
This requires a high-tech production process that is specific to the materials used, and is known as compression molding.
Carbon composite begins as woven strands of fine, black carbon fibre – each fibre is approximately one tenth of the thickness of a human hair. Individual carbon fibres are combined and impregnated with epoxy resin to make carbon composite ‘pre-preg’.

Multiple layers of carbon composite pre-preg are laid into a tool which is the shape of the driver body. Each piece lays in a different direction from the one on top of it or below it, in order to create strength when the fibre hardens. At this point, internal weights are inserted to build draw, neutral, or fade biased clubheads.
Each tool has two sides—the sole and crown of the clubhead. The two sides are brought together then put into an oven. A bladder is inflated inside the tool pushing the carbon composite pre-preg against the wall of the tool.

At a certain temperature, the epoxy resin flows between layers of carbon fibre. When it’s cooled, the epoxy solidifies and all the layers of carbon fibre are fused into one very strong shell. The process is called compression moulding.
Another example of materials research from Callaway is the development of a new metal alloy called Tunite. Tunite is a new metal that weighs approximately 20 percent more than stainless steel and is twice the density of titanium. Tunite forms the cradle of the club (the contour of the club face) on many Callaway irons and is used for the weight inserts on hybrid irons too. It is made of a base of tungsten and nickel. A small amount of silicon softens the mixture, and ferro-chromium is added to allow it to be polished.
Here too the object of the exercise is to place more of the club’s weight where it works best for the golfer, in this case to the perimeter of the face.
Vibration control along the shaft and in the club head is another important engineering element: again manufacturers feature different methods to dampen vibrations and increase the club’s stability through the swing and the hit phases.
 
GOLF BALLS
Golf balls are famous for "dimples". These small dips in the surface of the golf ball decrease aerodynamic drag by increasing turbulence behind the ball in motion, which allows the ball to fly farther.
In golf balls, as with clubs, construction technology has improved over time in order to increase performance. Balls are now built with the aim of moving the ball’s weight to the perimeter, away from the core, thus reducing spin and allowing for greater distance. Dimple design can vary too, in order to provide a greater stabilty in flight, again with the objective of increasing distance. Finally, progress has been made on the ball’s outer shell material, to make it “cling” to the green once it’s there.
 
OTHER EQUIPMENT
A tee is used for resting the ball on top of for an easier shot; allowed only for the first stroke of each hole. Wood tees are inexpensive but plastic tees last longer. Long tees are suitable for woods and can position the ball higher off the ground. Short tees are suitable for irons and are less easily broken.
Many golfers wear golf shoes with metal or plastic spikes designed to increase traction thus allowing for more longer and more accurate shots. A golf bag is used to transport golf clubs. Golf bags have several pockets designed for carrying various equipment and supplies. Golf bags can be carried, pulled on a two-wheel pull cart or harnessed to a motorized golf cart during play. Golf bags have both a hand strap and shoulder strap for carrying, and sometimes have retractable legs that allow the bag to sit upright when at rest. Golf also uses flags, known as the "pin" to show the position of the hole to players when they are too far away from the hole to see it clearly. When all players in a group are within putting distance, the pin, is removed by a "caddy" or a fellow competitor to allow for easier access to the hole.