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Early Anti-Shank Iron

The Face Club Antishank
smlantishank iron - full15


The Anti-Shank design is quit a concept! ... and it's a Collector's Must!  This one however, has baffled me a bit.  It appears to be an early example of this patented design; it has no visible maker marks, it's smooth faced and fairly heavish construction comparing to early examples.  The design of the head (head's shape and sight lines) seem to match closest in look and feel to a club sold as a "Gourlay c. 1890" which sold a couple of years ago, however that club was stamped with his marks.  The shaft appears to have been changed, certainly a regrip is evident from the shaft which shows a very subtle longer grip of 14 inches was once on this shaft.

Another close example, except that this example club's top sightline appearing a bit more rounded, and a rounder toe as well, but otherwise some close likeness to the photos for steweart antishank image2steweart antishank imagethis Early Tom Stewart:

Background on the Anti-Shank: The iron club had developed with the introduction of the harder gutta-percha ball in the 1850s and soon there were available specific clubs for certain shots. Those of us who have a tendency to shank may take some solace from the fact that golfers have been cursed with that shot since the early days of the game. And in the early 1890s, two inventors decided to do something about it! Francis Archibald Fairlie patented the first of the so-called ‘anti-shank’ iron clubs (#6,681) in 1891. In 1894, a second was marketed as the ‘G.F. Smith Patent’.

george low sr antishankThe idea behind the club was to produce an iron with no neck area between the blade and hosel (a miss-struck shot can come off the shank or neck of the hosel). Smith's hosel was bent in goose-neck fashion so the blade edge was lined up under the shaft.

Be aware that the face of this Smith Niblick is smooth; it was only in the early 1900s that the club maker or club professional (in this case William Marshall of Onwentsia, Chicago) would make markings on the face to help to get the ball into the air. A clover mark denotes the maker of Spence & Gourlay, a club making firm that operated out of St. Andrews. (Source: http://www.golftoday.co.uk)


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