Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ramshorn Saves Your Sole

FTEN, people describe the horn along the leading edge of the sole of a pre-1900 long nose golf club as 'ramshorn'. Most of the clubs through the 19th century used a whitish translucent horn actually derived from cattle rather than the horns found on rams from Scotland.

Here are the steps to insert the horn with the accompanying steps described by J.H. Taylor from The Book of Golf and Golfers:

Tom Morris putter, left, circa 1870.
Replica putter, right, with beech head and approximately 1/8" thick horn

1/8" thick translucent horn cut with Plexiglas cutter. 
The horn behaves similar to Plexiglas except for an odor.
Mark out mortise for horn with a marking knife.
Make the lines deep. 
Also score a line with a marking gauge along the bottom of the face
 a bit less than the thickness of the horn.

Chisel out the waste. Go slowly. This process takes quite a bit of time.
You could also consider using a hand router or electric trim router with fence.

The horn is curved with heat prior to gluing to better conform to the slightly curved sole.
There is a slight inward taper of the wall to lock in the horn, which has a complimentary dovetail-like taper

Holes are bored through both the horn and clubhead.

Ensure that the peg holes are angled back toward the rear of the club. 
This will keep the horn better seated as the club contacts the ground.
On the first clubs I made, I had glued the horn first, then pegged the horn. But, it's probably better to create the pegholes first to prevent the horn from drifting while gluing and clamping. The horn is clamped on the ends and the middle hole is bored first. The middle peg then is tapped in slightly to stabilize the horn while the two end holes are bored. I use Old Brown hide glue.

 Clamps can be placed between the pegs.

The pegs are made of hickory or other hardwoods. I use the dowel plate seen in the background.

Play club made of pear wood.

John Whyte-Melville, Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews 1823 and 1883 at the 18th tee/17th green with the Swilcan bridge in the background. At first, when I saw this painting, it seemed strange that the caddie was teeing up the ball, yet Whyte-Melville has a putter in hand (based on length of shaft and fairly acute angle of the neck). I thought, perhaps, he was using a driving putter, but the shafts on those were longer. The putter does make sense because in those days, players would tee the ball six to eight club lengths from the prior hole and he has not yet switched clubs. This is confirmed by the fact that we see the driver on the ground behind the caddie.
Painting by Sir Francis Grant, 1874.

Illuminated letter "O" by Thomas Hodge from Golf, The Badminton Library

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