In golf, which was the first metal wood?

Once upon a time, the nomenclature of golf clubs was about as unambiguous as it could be. Irons were so-called because their club heads were made of iron – or, at least, iron combined with carbon to form carbon steel or stainless steel – and woods were so-called because their club heads were made from wood, predominantly persimmon. Of course, that was until the late seventies or, in fact, probably a decade or so later. By that stage, metal ‘wood’ technology had gained sufficient traction to become popular among the rank and file of golfers. For the record, the first golfer to win a major championship using a metal driver was Lee Trevino in the PGA Championship in 1984 and the last to do so using a traditional, wooden driver was Bernhard Langer in the Masters Tournament in 1993.

The paradoxical innovation that changed the face of modern golf forever was the brainchild of the late Gary Vale Adams, an American salesman and inventor, who finally succumbed to pancreatic cancer on January 2, 2000, at the age of 56, having originally being diagnosed with the disease nine years earlier. Immortalised as ‘The Father of the Metal Wood’, Adams founded TaylorMade Golf in 1979 and, in modest, rented premises in McHenry, Illinois, began production of the first 12° cast stainless steel driver.


Nicknamed the ‘Pittsburgh Persimmon’, after the erstwhile steel capital of the world, the club measured less than 200cc, in terms of club head volume – the maximum limit for modern drivers is 460cc – and, composition aside, was more akin to its persimmon predecessors. Nevertheless, the days of persimmon were numbered and metals woods have continued to evolve, from stainless steel, through titanium, to the latest, lightweight ‘carbonwood’ club face technology.

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