The Brassie (or 'Brassy') Golf Club

Chick Evans plays a brassie shot
What was the golf club called a "brassie"? It was the equivalent of a modern fairway wood (most often associated with a 2-wood) that was used by golfers starting in the late 1800s. Brassie clubs are no more in golf, but the term lived on and is sometimes still heard today as a kind of throwback reference to a fairway wood.

To put it another way, the brassie golf club is an obsolete golf club — an antique golf club — and the term "brassie" is mostly archaic today, too.

Brassies began showing up in golf in the late 1800s, definitely by the 1880s, when some golf-club makers started fitting the soles of wooden-headed clubs with brass plates. Those plates made it safer to use such a club off of rougher surfaces, such as a road or some pebbly area, without fear of damaging the club's head.

In its earliest usages, brassie (which was often spelled "brassy" back in the 19th and early 20th centuries) was more an adjective than a reference to a specific golf club. There were brassie spoons, brassie jiggers, brassie niblicks and so on — all terms meaning that type of club but with a brass sole plate affixed.

As time went on, brassie came more to mean a specific golf club: a wood-headed club with more loft than a driver but less than a spoon (which was a club more equivalent to a 3-wood or 5-wood). Hence, brassie, to later golfers, came to mean 2-wood.

We can cite a couple old references to the brassie (taken from The Historical Dictionary of Golfing Terms — affiliate links here and following). In a 1915 book named Pro & Con of Golf, author Alexander Revell wrote that "the brassie is a near-driver." Abe Mitchell in Essentials of Golf (1937) wrote that "many players use their brassie off the tee."

By 1967, George Plimpton was writing in The Bogey Man that "brassie and spoon for the 2- and 3-woods are fast disappearing" from the golf lexicon.

These old names for what we now called antique golf clubs occasionally make comebacks, however, when a modern golf club company decides to inject a little nostalgia into one of its new club releases.

Brass sole plates themselves have been gone from golf since wooden-headed "woods" disappeared in the early part of the 21st century, replaced by metal "woods."

More old golf equipment:

Photo credit: Chick Evans playing a brassie shot/Public Domain via The Library of Congress

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