Aluminum clubs seem to be growing in favor. Their increasing popularity is not merely a fad; it rests upon something more substantial than passing fancy or caprice - a recognition of the fact that they possess certain inherent qualities of superiority over the iron clubs now in use.
The first of these clubs that attracted attention was the Mills putter - a reproduction of an old Philp wooden putter. Its success was instantaneous. It may be said to combine all the merits of the wooden putter without any of its demerits. Being made of metal, it is not affected by weather conditions; it is impervious to rain or heat, and therefore the face never becomes spongy or cracks; there is no horn, and no lead to get out of place and affect the balance - and it is practically indestructible.
The chief objections which lie against the wooden putter may be summarized as follows: it imparts too much run to the ball commensurate with the force employed, and is therefore objectionable on a keen green, except to the naturally good putter; it is a very difficult matter to get the lead put in exactly right; the face is not homogeneous, by reason of the inset of horn on the sole, and it gets more or less spongy in wet weather, and wet also provokes cracks; and it does not last so long as its metal brethren.
The more salient countervailing advantages of its aluminum prototype have already been mentioned. To these may be added the fact that, being homogeneous throughout, it is much easier to get the centre of gravity positively fixed and determinate with absolute uniformity in each and every model; and this centre of gravity being right in the middle of the club, no long apprenticeship has to be served, as in the case of the wooden putter - and also to some extent with all iron clubs - to ascertain the particular point with which the ball should be struck to cause it to run straight. Then, again, the ball does not jump off the face, or run quite so far, as with the wooden weapon. Its shape, moreover, encourages a disposition to go through the ball with the stroke rather than hit it; and, having a wider sole than any iron putter, it finds, automatically, the natural and correct angle. In this respect it possesses a marked advantage over irons.
Copying the wooden putter having proved such a practical success, it was a natural and easy step to take up the manufacture of the old-time spoons, in aluminum. This reversion to first principles is somewhat interesting.
The limited longevity of the wooden spoons and the greater range of work of which irons - virtually indestructible - were capable in the hands of first - class players, notably young Tommy Morris, gradually led to the almost universal employment of the latter. There was not the care bestowed on courses then as at present, and poor lies were more frequently encountered. With the narrow sole of an iron it was easier to nip the ball out of a bad lie - as it is now, even with any kind of aluminum club, plentiful though the various models are. Nowadays, however, the lies on most courses are so generally good through the green, and spoons are so much easier to play with than irons - even out of long grass, if one should get off the course, as who does not? - that they are bound to come into favor again, slowly, perhaps, but surely. But they will not be made wholly of wood, as of yore.
Aluminum clubs may now be obtained to cover the entire set. Personally, I do not find any advantage in the driver or brassey, but for the rest I think there are certain points of merit. In the first place, as already remarked, the centre of gravity - unlike most irons - resides in the centre of the head, irrespective of the model; consequently there is less liability of slicing or pulling. Then, again, the broader sole admits of more margin for error and does not demand the same degree of accuracy, for if the ground be struck behind the ball the stroke is not robbed of any material power; the broader sole prevents the club sinking into the ground to far less extent than with an iron; it skids more along the surface, and does not dig up anything like the same amount of turf to come between the club head and the ball that an iron does in like circumstances.
Out of long grass an aluminum club is much better than an iron, both for distance and accuracy. With most irons- depending largely on the length of the socket or hose the actual centre of gravity lies more towards the heel; consequently the resistance offered by the grass before the ball is reached does not act uniformly on either side of the centre of the face. The toe is slightly pulled in and the ball does not rise so quickly, and is also more or less hooked. With aluminums it is different; the centre of gravity is right in the centre of the head; pressure is thereby exerted evenly, and there is not the same chance of a twist creeping in.
Another good feature of these clubs is that the degree of angle of the face, or the lie, may very easily be changed to suit individual tastes by the simple use of a file; or lead may be added to increase the weight, if desired another point that may perhaps be worthy of notice is that aluminums never rust, and, consequently, never require cleaning.
The Rules Of Golf As Approved By The Royal And Ancient Golf Club Of St. Andrews And as Amended by The United States Golf Association.