The first steel-shafted golf clubs appeared in the 1890s, but the forerunner to today’s models were patented by American Arthur Knight in 1910.
Hickory shafts remained the standard until 1926, when the USGA finally approved steel for competition. Steel’s ascension was completed with Billy Burke’s victory in the 1931 U.S. Open.
Steel offered numerous advantages over hickory. For starters, steel shafts could be mass produced, bringing down the cost of clubs. Steel was also more durable, produced longer shots and proved more consistent than their wood forebears. By the mid-1930s, steel was the shaft material of choice.
Around that time, a trio of U.S.-born golfers began dominating the professional game. Texans Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, along with Sam Snead of Virginia, set a new standard for shotmaking and played at a level seldom seen before or since.
Nelson’s 1945 records of 11 consecutive Tour victories and 18 total wins are almost certainly untouchable. Snead won 82 times, more than any male golfer in history. Hogan, a late bloomer, claimed nine major titles and carried a mystique that endures today.