The sport of golf has evolved tremendously from the days when people went out with nothing more than a crudely carved set of sticks and a leather ball stuffed with feathers. Today's golf equipment, from clubs to balls to clothing, is changing the game, making it more user-friendly. In some cases, the golf equipment of today has caused architects to rethink the layout and length of the courses they design.
With the exception of the rubber golf ball, nowhere has golf experienced such rapid transformation as in the manufacture of golf clubs. In the 1970s, Taylor Made was the first to take a tremendous leap forward in club technology with the introduction of metal woods, going away from the traditional wooden woods. Today, club manufacturers like Callaway, Adams, Nike, Cleveland and Taylor Made have all gone to, not only metal woods, but also driver and fairway wood heads made of titanium and other composite materials.
Golf balls also have changed, from the original wood balls to leather outers with feather stuffing to today's high-tech marvels--two-, three- and four-piece balls composed of soft inner core materials and typically covered with surlyn. Titleist is the No. 1 golf ball brand in the game and a subsidiary of the Acushnet Company, which started as a rubber manufacturer in the early 1900s. Achushnet started making golf balls in the 1930s. Other manufacturers in the golf ball business include titans such as Callaway, which makes its own brand of balls and also owns the Top Flight brand of golf balls.
The bag is perhaps the one area of golf manufacturing where you don't see as many of the same names--e.g. Nike, Callaway and Titleist--crossing over. Companies like Ogio and Mizuno don't make clubs or balls; their speciality allows them to fit naturally into the bag-making business. Ogio, a "Golf Digest" top bag brand for 2010, makes golf bags, but also luggage, duffle bags and back packs. Mizuno, like Nike, is a crossover brand that manufacturers a variety of sports equipment and apparel.
What a golfer wears on the course has always been the subject of conversation, and occasional ridicule (see Payne Stewart, Ian Poulter and John Daly). Today's apparel manufacturing is an open field with top names in the game, including Callaway and Nike, competing with general sporting goods manufacturers Adidas and Puma, and clothing manufacturers Tommy Bahama and Levi Strauss. Footwear and golf gloves are even more specialized, with the perennial leader being FootJoy, which has been around as a brand since the 1920s.
Given the assortment of clubs the typical weekend warrior carries in his golf bag, golf carts have become more of a necessity. Originally, most riding carts were gas-powered, but green thinking and modern technology have led to the rise of electric carts, which now outnumber their gas-powered cousins. The top names in golf carts include Club Car, which is a subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand (a large transportation equipment manufacturing company), EZ Go, PowerSports and multinational conglomerate Yamaha.