The Sand Wedge

 

When Bobby Jones hit a spectacular sand shot with his new fangled sand wedge, from a down hill side hill lie to 3 inches on the par 5 16th at Hoylake in the 1930 British Open it was determined that either the club was illegal or Jones should be burned at the stake as surely he was a witch. In January of 1931 the United States Golf Association rendered its decision and despite the rumblings from many of its members Jones was spared ( although he did retire from competitive golf ) and the club was banned from USGA play. 

Gene "The Squire" Sarazen, winner of 8 majors ( whose birth name was Eugenio Saraceni)  was so upset with the decision he decided to take matters into his own hands....and redesign the sand wedge.....what ?  You thought he was going to burn Jones at the stake ? Geeez.  Anyway, Sarazen finished his approved design in 1933 and  although he never patented his design he became known as the inventor of the modern sand wedge for which so many golfers are thankful.

Some interesting little facts don't you think ? But wait let's take a peek under just one more layer and see what we can see. In 1930 during the Southern Open at Augusta Country Club, Horton Smith gave a newly designed club called a sand wedge to Bobby Jones. Jones then uses this new club and pulls off a miracle shot that helps him win the British Open, the 2nd tournament in his quest for the grand slam. 



Horton Smith
1st Masters Champion
1934

 

Horton Smith is then invited to and wins the 1st Masters Tournament at Augusta National. You with me so far ? Well in the mean time the club that Smith gave Jones is banned in USGA sanctioned competition leading Gene Sarazen to redesign it to the satisfaction of the USGA club gurus. 

Sarazen is then invited to play in the 1935 Masters which he wins with a miracle shot of his own for a double eagle on the famed 15th par 5. ( More witch craft ? ) Had enough ? But wait.... just two more tid bits, Horton Smith won the third Masters held in 1936. Although Horton would win 30 PGA events over his long and storied career, his only 2 majors were the 1934 and 1936 Masters. Sarazen would go on to win 39 PGA events yet he is most remembered for his 1935 Masters double eagle. Did you get all that ?

A photo of the patent diagram of the 1st sand wedge.

Well I hope so, because at it turns out there is more. It seems sometime in 1932, the great golf writer and close friend of Bobby Jones, Grantland Rice introduced Babe Zaharias to the game of golf. She was later introduced  to Gene Sarazen with whom she ended up doing an exhibition tour. Sarazen among other things gifted Babe a sand wedge along with a few tips on how to use it, some suspect "magic" and all. 

You see in April of 1935 Babe Zaharias entered only her 2nd golf tournament, the Texas Women's Golf Championship at River Oaks Country Club in Houston Texas. As fate would have it she played herself into the finals where she was to face 3 time champion Peggy Chandler, who upon hearing of Mrs. Zaharias's entry remarked, "We really don't need any truck driver's daughter in our tournament. " (For the record Babe's father was a highly skilled furniture maker.)

The 36 hole final was vicious and it appeared that Mrs. Chandler had the match well in hand with a 3 hole lead after 26 holes. Babe managed to cut the lead to 1 hole on Mrs. Chandler by the 33rd hole where things would get "interesting" . Babe with the honors stripes her drive 250 yards dead center, into a ditch that crossed the fairway. Then in her attempt to reach the par 5 from this dreadful lie in two with her 3-iron, she blades her approach over the green into a muddy rut. Peggy Chandler in the meantime was on in 3 within tap in distance for am easy birdie four.

Mrs. Zaharias now faced with a "no chance" shot, in a do or die situation selects, you guessed it, her sand wedge and knocks it in the hole like it was "guided by remote control" for a match tying eagle 3. "Fans watching from the edge of the green ran forward to witness the impossible inadvertently collided with Babe, knocking her face down into the muddy puddle." As Babe was recovering her composure the now delirious spectators "exploded in ecstatic disbelief ." Babe went on to win the championship on the 36th hole.

So now you tell me, how important was this "magical" sand wedge to these larger than life golfing heroes ?


Babe Zaharias blasts out of a sand trap

A photo of  golfing legends Gene Sarazen, Babe Zaharias, Horton Smith.

A sand wedge trio, Gene Sarazen, Babe Zaharias, Horton Smith all carrying golf clubs. 
Wouldn't you love to know who the woman is that Sarazen appears to be smitten with.

 

A photo of a 1933 Wilson R90, Gene Sarazen sand wedge.A photo of a  Callaway sand wedge.A photo of a  Cobra sand wedge.A photo of a  Accuform sand wedge.A photo of a Taylormade sand wedge.A photo of a  Taylormade sand wedge.A photo of a  Titleist-Vokey sand wedge.

Sand Wedges have come along way since Edwin MacClain's finned beauty, with an endless selection of models and styles.

To learn more about your sand wedge options, continue your search here.......

 

1913 US Open

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