A Tribute to MacGregor Golf - The Principal Inventor of Modern Golf Equipment
It can hardly be disputed that the MacGregor Golf Company had the greatest influence in shaping modern golf equipment with its constant innovation.
After a modest start in 1897, and steady growth in its formative years, it entered into three handshake deals with promising tour players - Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret. Hogan of course went on to form his own company in 1953.
Its manufacturing firsts include: Face inserts in woods; the mild steel forging of irons; vibration dampening shafts; all weather rubber grips; cavity back irons, and titanium wood heads!
In the 1940s and 50s more than half of the P.G.A. tour players were using MacGregor notwithstanding very little being spent on advertising or on massive players' sponsorship deals.
Just as Jack Nicklaus turned pro. in 1961 he was signed by MacGregor, later becoming chairman of the company in 1978.
Between 1973 and 1979 MacGregor clubs were used to win the U.S. Open, the Open Championship, and the P.G.A. Championship with such great names as Tom Watson and Tom Weiskopt regularly featuring.
Although the MacGregor name was in those golden years renowned for sheer excellence and innovation the company would eventually lose out to competitors offering their players massive cash sponsorship deals. .
Nowadays the MacGregor brand is owned by Golfsmith and - compared with its golden years - has sadly become very middle of the road even after taking its 'VIP' range into account.
Quality MacGregor players' irons from its golden era (pre-1985) rarely come onto the market and are treasured by their knowledgable owners! Ben Hogan's own MacGregor irons dating from 1953 recently sold for over $42,500. in auction.
Arguably the greatest MacGregor irons design was that of the 'Jack Nicklaus Champion 813.' A very short run limited edition made for talented golfers featuring a muscle back blade design with a high centre of gravity (for keeping the ball low) which possibly inspired the Ben Hogan 'PC' blade design in 1984.
What also makes these irons far superior to ANY modern irons (even those costing in excess of £1,000.) is how they were then manufactured. Processes which are now largely illegal or frowned upon worldwide including hard chroming which was then a three stage process, copper, nickel (or cadmium for the very expensive) and then chrome. The first two layers allowed the very brittle chrome layer to be more flexible and hence last longer when repeatedly hit with a golf ball and slung into bags. It is almost impossible to get that level of plating now, due to the fatal qualities of nickel and cadmium plate being frowned upon (even in China) so nowadays the plating is thinner and more prone to damage. **
Strange as it may seem many golf irons made decades ago ago are way superior to their modern shadows and MacGregor irons epitomise this.
** With sincere thanks to my engineer advisors, one of whom I have almost quoted verbatim / slightly paraphrased.