To celebrate the Fourth of July, I thought I'd pass along a little bit of golf Americana that I ran across recently.
On June 27, the Project X division of shaftmaker True Temper tweeted out the photo posted above. It's a schematic of a steel shaft from 1941 – ''here's what we looked like without computers,'' the tweet said.
My favorite part, though, is at the top of the drawing – at the time, True Temper was a division of the American Fork & Hoe Co., whose roots can be traced back to the early days of the United States.
True Temper was formed in 1800 when several small companies that specialized in forging got together. In 1902, True Temper and several other toolmakers merged to create American Fork & Hoe in Cleveland. By the 1930s, it had become the largest hand-tool company in America, supplying about 90 percent of the hand tools used on American farms.
Along with rakes and pitchforks, the AF&H plant in Geneva, Ohio, began making fishing rods, ski poles and golf shafts. As early as 1931, True Temper was displaying its steel shafts at tournaments and other events as golfers began switching from hickory shafts to steel.
True Temper got a big boost in 1940, when an up-and coming professional named Byron Nelson began using its shafts, and AF&H changed its name to True Temper in 1949. In 1967, True Temper created the first mechanical club-swinging robot for testing – its name, of course, was Iron Byron. And in 2010, True Temper's plant in Amory, Miss., built its billionth shaft as the company remains the all-time leader among shaftmakers in wins around the globe.
True Temper isn't the only American golf company that's been around so long – Wilson Sporting Goods has created in the 1920s, for example, and Titleist was founded in 1932. But it certainly played a unique and crucial role in the growth and development of both American agriculture and American golf.