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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Golf Clubs and Cleek Marks

In 1991 I started collecting old golf clubs—the hand forged, wood-shafted kind that predate1935. I cut my golf teeth on wood-shafted clubs, so I feel kind of sentimental about my hobby. Finding a club at a flea market or garage sale is like discovering a lost relative.

Before 1890 blacksmiths made club heads by heating iron bars in forges and then pounding them into shape by hand, By the turn of the century steam-powered hammers lightened the work, but the manufacturing process still required patience and skill. The British iron makers in the 1880s–19290s era became known as cleek makers, and stamped their identifying mark, called “cleek mark,” on their club heads.

I doubt that anyone today would try to make a living by making clubs the old-fashioned way. He would go broke faster than a new golf ball goes out of bounds. Nevertheless, the old-time club makers managed to put bread on their table and pride into their work. Their cleek marks represent their good name.

Many collectors try to obtain clubs with different cleek marks, and the fun of doing so is as endless as the range of cleek marks seems to be. A shepherd’s crook identifies Alex Shepherd as a club maker around 1915. Alex Patrick put the spur mark on his work between 1905 and 1915. Andrew Herd Scott, club maker for England’s George V, used a crown and a lion from 1911 to1925. St. Andrew Golf Company used the stag mark from 1910 until 1925 and then introduced a sun mark. Gene Sarazen used St. Andrew clubs in the1930s.

The list of cleeks could go on, but I will mention only a few more: a pipe, a serpent, a robin, a flag, an anvil, a hammer, a bear, a thistle, and a Scottish bluebell.

According to Ephesians 2:10, Christians are God’s workmanship. We were like scrap iron before God reached down to salvage us. When He put His hands on us, He purged us from our sins and began to forge and polish us into the image of His Son Rom. 8:29). Someday the forging and polishing will end, and we will be like Christ (1 John 3:2). However, God has already stamped His “cleek mark” on us. He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). This seal identifies us as His workmanship and guarantees that He will perfect His work in us.

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