The First Senior Golf Clubs

The design and manufacture of golf clubs has become very specialized and personalized in recent years. The major companies now take into consideration a great many factors – age, gender, height, weight, athletic ability, strength,and playing ability. These developments enable everyone to maximize their ability to play golf, but this was not always the case. Prior to the mid 80’s Mens Golf Clubs were available in two forms, stiff shafts (S) for better players and regular shafts for the rest of us. Ladies golf clubs were shorter and made with a more flexible shaft (L). That was it and who ever you were you had to fir into one of these styles. It didn’t matter who the manufacturer was they all built golf clubs into these three categories.

By 1985 the development of metal woods, caste iron heads and the ever improving quality of graphite shafts gave manufacturers the opportunity to be much more creative. I had the privilege to be involved in the development of the first set of golf clubs designed for seniors. A good friend and highly respected Club Professional, Jack McLaughlin approached me with what he considered a need. Golfers, as they age, lose flexibility and the ability to make a full turn. This results in an abreviated swing, reduced club speed  and corresponding shorter distance. Jack believed that a club could be designed to compensate for this loss.

 Through a series of meetings between Jack, Tom Crow, the founder and principal of Cobra Golf and Tom McGeachie, my very talented club maker, a prototype Seniors Golf Club evolved. The idea was to create a club with a longer more flexible shaft and a corresponding lighter head. The lighter head enabled the player to swing the club more easily. The longer shaft enabled the player to create more head speed because of the larger arc. The increased flexibility of the shaft created a whip at impact which further increased head speed. Initially, this club was produced by using a Ladies graphite shaft, cutting it only from the butt endto maximize flexibility and combining it with a Ladies head which although marginally smaller produced the lighter weight, which was needed. The test set was made up as a 12 degree Driver and a 4 wood and a 7 wood. The irons were 4-9 plus PW and SW. This produced an 11 piece set which was the standard of the day but the configuration was considered very radical.

This prootype set was field tested throughout a full golf season. Over 100 golfers, both men and women, all of whom fit the general demographic we were targeting used the clubs and gave detailed comments. As a result, some adjustments were made but the overwhelming general comment was favourable. The most common remark was -“these clubs give me back the twenty five yards that I have lost over the years.”

As a result we introduced the “Cobra Super Senior” clubs the following season. “Super” implied very good and “Senior” implied the market segment, not “Super Senior” implying very old. This initiated the beginning of a whole new segment of the market and it was not long before the other companies jumped on the band wagon with their own versions.

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