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What’s A Golf Stick Called? (And Why)

If you are getting into golf, it can be easy to get confused by all the terminology. You know that you hit a ball with a stick, but there are several different kinds of sticks, and they all have their own names. So now you want to know what the specific golf sticks are called and why?

Golf sticks are called golf clubs. Golf clubs come in different types: woods, irons, hybrids that combine features of woods and irons, and putters. By the rules of golf, a set of golf clubs may contain a maximum of fourteen clubs. These may be a traditional or a custom combination.

Just knowing that a golf stick should be called a club is only the beginning of what you should know about these fascinating sporting tools. Understanding the different types and what to use them for is key to your advancing knowledge of how to play the game.

What Is A Golf Stick Called?

Golf Sticks Are Called Clubs Because Of The Dutch

Golf sticks are known as clubs, and in an exciting twist, the name ‘golf’ comes from the same Germanic root. This Germanic root gave rise to the Old Norse word klubba, the origin of the English word club, meaning a heavy stick for use as a weapon or plaything.

This root is the origin of the Middle High German Kolbe and Dutch kolf, which mean the same thing. If we look at the history of golf, the Dutch applied the word to a winter sport played on ice by skaters, who used a club to strike a ball.

Because of trade between the Dutch ports and the ports of eastern Scotland between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, sailors introduced the game to Scotland, where it was first known as gouff or goff, later entering English as golf.

The Scots transformed the game from a winter sport to a game played on grassy links, but the clubs remained, and so to this day, golf sticks are known as golf clubs.

The Different Types Of Golf Clubs

Because we play golf over considerable distances, a player cannot use only one club for all purposes. There are:

  • Clubs designed for long distances.
  • Clubs designed for middle distances.
  • Clubs designed for very short ranges.

All of these clubs have their specific design and names, and these names reflect the history of golf.

Woods Are Designed For Long Distance Golf Shots

Woods are clubs designed to hit the ball long distances down the fairway toward the hole. They have the largest head and the longest shafts of any golf club to maximize speed.

The largest wood, or number one wood, is known as a driver because it is designed to drive the ball down the fairway from the tee.

A 3 wood and a 5 wood are next. They have less distance than a driver but are considered easier to hit the ball straighter and are a must for a beginner off the tee. Do you want to know which woods the pros use? Check out this article, 5 Most Popular Fairway Woods on The PGA Tour.

Although some manufacturers later introduced composite wood construction, they traditionally made woods of persimmon or hickory wood. Nowadays, woods are no longer made of wood, but the name has remained to describe their general shape and function on the golf course.

These days, manufacturers make golf woods from metals such as steel or even titanium or composite materials such as carbon fiber. Most have a graphite shaft.

What’s A Golf Stick Called? Golf Driver
A Golf Driver

Woods have low loft, with the driver having the lowest loft and smaller woods having more loft. Loft is the angle of the golf club’s face from the vertical plane, which helps lift the ball into the air. Because woods are designed to send the ball a long distance, they have low loft.

Irons Are Designed For Tricky Situations In Golf

Irons are clubs designed for general fairway play and only used off the tee on short-yardage holes or when positioning the ball in a specific spot on the fairway is of more importance than the distance gained from a wood to allow better access to the green.

Also, in various tricky situations on the golf course, irons are good for getting a ball out of hazards or through trees, working a ball around a dogleg, or hitting on tight lies where a more compact swing is desirable.

Golfers call them irons because manufacturers originally made them of forged iron. These days, they are usually cast out of steel alloys, which produce a more forgiving design.

Forged designs are still sometimes seen among low-handicap golfers, as they allow a golfer who has enough skill to hit a curved shot around an obstacle or to follow the contours of the fairway. To learn more about the construction of golf clubs, check out this article, Are Golf Irons Made of Iron?

Irons generally have more loft than woods, with the different numbers of irons having different shaft lengths, weights of the head, and loft. They are pretty thin front-to-back, leading to one of their nicknames being ‘blades.’

Irons are numbered 1-9.

Long irons 1-4 have the lowest loft, most extended shafts, and lightest club heads and are used to hit the ball between 250-200 yards, while medium irons 5-7 and short irons 8-9 have progressively more loft, shorter shafts, and heavier club heads and are commonly used in approach play to the green.

5-7 irons usually cover between 190-140 yards, and 8-9 irons typically cover 130-110 yards. There can be considerable variation in exact specifications between clubs from different manufacturers.

So, what the heck is a wedge, you may wonder?

Wedges are a subclass of irons with heavier heads and greater loft. Their wedge-shaped heads give them their name. They are used in delicate short-distance approach play or getting out of green side bunkers.

They are usually named pitch, gap, sand, and lob, although they can also be known by the angle of wedge they have. For example, a sand wedge could also be called a 54-degree wedge!

Do you want to know which shafts the pros use? Check out this article, 7 Most Popular Shafts on The PGA Tour.

Hybrids Are Designed To Make Swings Easier In Golf

Because woods have such long shafts, swinging them can be difficult for beginners or players with less strength to master.

As a result, hybrid clubs have become popular for such players in recent decades. Golfers call them hybrids because they combine features of woods and irons. This name is adapted from the biological meaning of hybrid, which means a cross between two different species.

Hybrids typically have the swing mechanics of an iron but the forgiving nature and better distance of a wood. They achieve this by having heads similar to fairway woods, made from hollow steel or titanium, but the head is shallower and has an iron’s lie angle.

The length and weight of a hybrid are similar to an iron.

What’s A Golf Stick Called? Hybrid Driver
Hybrid Driver

Putters Are Designed To Roll The Ball In Golf

Putters are specialist clubs designed for rolling the golf ball only a short distance. They have loft of ten degrees or less (typically only about five degrees) and a low center of gravity. They are meant for golfers to hit the ball softly, sending it short distances along the putting green.

We call them putters because they are used for putting, which is this aspect of play, where a player is endeavoring to get the ball into the hole.

Putting, in turn, gets its name from putt, a Scots word meaning to push or shove, which golfers adopted into golfing vocabulary in 1743. The word may come from a Dutch word used in the sport of kolf.

The putter (there is virtually always only one in a golf bag) is a specialist tool designed for the most technical aspect of golfing. Putters can have features that other golf clubs may not, such as two striking surfaces, bent shafts, and attachments for improving a player’s aim.

Some golfers use a sub-type of putter known as a chipper. It is similar to a putter but with more loft. It’s called a chipper because it is designed to ‘chip’ the ball from the rough and drop it onto the green to roll like a putt.

But please be aware that this club is seen as a beginner’s tool to help players who are uncomfortable with wedge play, and they are usually banned from competition play.

What’s A Golf Stick Called? Golf Putter
Golf Putter

Let’s Wrap This Up!

As you can see, there are several different types of golf sticks known as golf clubs, and they all have fascinating origins.

The words ‘club’ and ‘golf’ go back to golf’s roots in the Netherlands, while woods and irons get their names from the material manufacturers initially used.

The modern class of hybrids gets their name from having a mixture of features from woods and irons, while putters ultimately derive their name from a Scots word meaning to push. Now that you know what to call the various golf sticks, you should also understand better the use of each type of club.

In competition play, I usually carry a driver, a 3 wood, 4 hybrid, 5-9 irons, 3 wedges, and a putter.

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