Welcome to the St Andrews Golf Co the worlds oldest golf club maker. Here you will see how clubs have been made for over 200 years. Our artisans have a combined 150 years of clubmaking experience. Nowehere else in the world can you see a club being made by hand from start to finish.
St Andrews Golf Co’s roots date back as early as 1881. It is the last remaining Scottish golf club manufacturer, a result of the major consolidation that has gone on in the industry in Scotland. The company is home to 3 of Scotland’s most famous club making brands; George Nicoll; Tom Stewart and of course St Andrews Golf Co. itself.
We are the only golf club manufacturer in the ‘home of golf’ and the last club maker in the world retaining the traditional skills to hand craft fully playable sets of hickory golf clubs
George Nicoll a blacksmith by trade began the manufacture of hand forged iron heads or cleeks. Nicoll’s designs were innovative and included in 1895 a swan neck putting cleek which created the same effects a modern centre shaft putter. The designs attracted some very large orders one being placed in 1898 by the Forth Rubber Company for 10,000 clubs. Amongst Nicoll’s many staff players were 3 times winner of The Open Championship Henry Cotton, Brian Huggett, Dai Rees and Vivian Saunders. The company remained in the same family until 1982 and had distribution throughout the golfing World. The famous hand cleek mark first appeared in 1905 and is still used today at St Andrews Golf Co (who now own George Nicoll) during the production of George Nicoll clubs both ancient and modern.
Tom Stewart Jnr opens his cleekworks in Argyle Street St Andrews. Tom Stewart had learnt his trade as a blacksmith with his father in Carnoustie where cleeks were sometimes made, (George Morris, older brother of Tom was a client of renown). In 1890 Stewart went to work in St Andrews with the well-known clubmaker Robert White and in 1893 started business for himself using the famous pipe brand cleek mark previously used by his father in Carnoustie. The cleeks found favour with many famous golfers including US Open winner Francis Ouimet and Grand Slam winner Robert T Jones Jnr. Over the years millions of pipe brand clubs have been produced. Out of respect to Bobby Jones St Andrews Golf Co. reproduce exact copies of the clubs supplied to him during his ‘Grand Slam’ year of 1930. The pipe brand and Tom Stewart Company are now owned by St Andrews Golf Co.
St Andrew Golf Co, Dunfermline and Glasgow, began production. The company was responsible, through one of its designers Willie Ogg, for its Oggmented clubs being a very early method of producing a balanced set. Notable players to use these clubs were Densmore (Denny) Shute 1933 Open Champion, Gene Sarazen and Johnny Farrell.
George Nicoll produces the revolutionary new set of clubs called the “Indicator” series. This set was to radically change the market for clubs. They were the first matching set of irons, each was stamped on the back with the approximate distance the club should achieve thereby helping golfers with their club selection, hence the name Indicator. Each club was made with the same weight of shaft and flex something we take for granted today, but this was breakthrough thinking at the time.
Champions who have played with St Andrews Golf Co clubs
Robert Tyre Jones Jr. completes the holy grail of golf, winning the Open and Amateur championships of Britain and the USA in the same calendar year. A feat never achieved before or since. Bobby Jones as he was affectionately known was fanatical about his clubs. On his retirement from golf which followed soon after completing his grand slam he stated, I was very proud of my clubs. There were some eighteen of them which I considered to be on the active list. 7 of those clubs were made by the St Andrews club maker Tom Stewart a brand now owned by the St Andrews Golf Co.
From the middle of the pack American Densmore Shute returned his fourth round of 73 and found he was sharing the clubhouse lead with fellow Ryder Cup player Craig Wood.
It looked certain that they would be joined by a third member of the team when Diegel played a fine second shot to the last hole and needed two putts for a tie. He left the first putt virtually stone dead and crouched over the ball in his familiar style with elbows splayed wide, forearms parallel with the ground.
Renowned golf correspondent Bernard Darwin reported that he missed “by the widest possible margin.” He had, in fact, missed the ball completely. An air shot with the putter.
In the subsequent play-off Shute clinched the championship by five shots over 36 holes.Denny Shutte went on to win 2 consecutive US PGA titles later in the decade. Shute played with St Andrews Golf Co clubs.
The decade of American domination in the Open Championship was finally ended at Royal St George’s in 1934. Opening rounds of 67 and 65 by Henry Cotton left all opposition so far adrift that it was almost as if he was playing a lone exhibition.
The second round of 65 was seized on by the Dunlop company and their best-selling golf ball bore the magic number for many years.
A third round of 72 brought a little reality to Cotton’s situation, but with one round to play he still held a 10-shot lead over the field. Yet after the first 12 holes of his final round there was grave doubt that he could hang on for the title.
In common with Bobby Jones, Cotton suffered badly with nerves and found it difficult to cope with the pressures of tournament golf. Unable to eat properly before the last round he suffered stomach cramps and reached the turn in 40. Three more shots were spilled over the next three holes before he was able to stem the flow. Short of the green in two at the 13th he chipped to four feet and holed the putt, steadying his nerves sufficiently to get home in 79.
At the end of the drama it was still good enough to give him a five shot margin of victory and the first of his three Open titles.
Henry Cotton used George Nicoll clubs throughout his career right up to his retirement in the mid 70’s
The 1937 Open Championship was played at Carnoustie. Ed Dudley, one of the American Ryder Cup team members playing in The Open, was the first round leader with a score of 70. Reg Whitcombe moved into the lead after the second round, holding a two shot advantage over his brother Charles and Dudley. Henry Cotton was tied for 6th, five shots adrift.
The final two rounds of the Championship were played in a steady, cold, downpour. A third round score of 74 saw Reg Whitcombe maintain a two stroke lead over his brother Charles whilst Cotton moved up to third place, three shots behind.
Reg Whitcombe was out early in the fourth round and seemed very concerned about how wet the grips of his clubs were getting. At the 7th tee, his driver seemed to slip out of his hands in the middle of his down-swing and he topped the ball. It slithered all of about 40 yards and finished in the rough. He ended up taking a six at the hole, which would ultimately prove decisive. He finished the round on 76 for a total of 292.
Cotton, who was playing behind Whitcombe, was aware that he needed a 72 or better to take the lead. Playing excellent golf despite the conditions, Cotton made up the necessary ground and arrived at the 18th needing a six to win. His second shot found the bunker at the edge of the green, but he was down in five to post a total of 290. Only Charles Whitcombe could realistically catch Cotton if he shot a 72, but he could manage no better than a 76. As the afternoon wore on, the greatest danger to Cotton was that the course would be declared unplayable because of the amount of water lying on it and the round cancelled. The course remained playable – only just – and Cotton was declared The Open Champion.
When he won his first Open Championship at Royal St George’s in 1934, Henry Cotton set a new record 65 in the second round which was to give its name to a famous Dunlop golf ball. It also helped him on his way to a five-shot victory. At Muirfield in 1948 his second round score of 66 lacked the resonance of his earlier record, but it propelled him towards another five-shot winning margin and his third Open title.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the history of the St Andrews Golf Co and please come and visit us the next time you are in the St Andrews area.Tags: Artisans custom clubs factory Hand Made clubs Oldest clubmaker tour