Grass Club, An Early Term for the Driver

Sometimes golfers who are interested in the game's history or the origins of the game's clubs run across the term "grass club." Grass club was an early term for the earliest versions of the clubs that we now call drivers.

Sometimes the antique golf drivers are today called grass clubs, sometimes they are called "play clubs." Both terms were used by golfers, in the case of "grass club" probably beginning in the 1700s but definitely by the 1800s.

Other terms for the grass club were "grassed club" or "grassed driver." You might be thinking that the "grass" in this club's name referred to the golf course grass, to the turf. But it didn't.

This early driver name derived from the adjective "grassed," which, when used by golfers of long-ago eras, meant a golf club whose face was laid back at an angle. In other words, the club had more loft. Early drivers called "play clubs" had straighter faces (very low loft). But "grass clubs" had more loft — their heads were sloped back more.

Such drivers were grassed, in other words, using the adjective of the time. (And the term "grassed" meaning more-lofted? Golfers like to hit golf balls that are sitting up on a tuft of grass. It allows us to get the clubhead under the ball and better achieve lift. A grassed club, having more loft, got the ball up in the air as if it had been sitting up nicely on some grass.)

The term "grassed club" was also used more generally to mean any golf club with more loft than typical. But "grass club" also came to specifically mean the club we now call the driver.

The term "grass club" had died out by the late 1800s. There are uses in the early 1900s in which the writers employing the term are already looking backward, talking about clubs or terms no longer in use.

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