How Gene Sarazen invented the sand wedge

In 1932 Gene Sarazen arrived at Princes Golf Club in Kent to contest the Open Championship, which he was to go on and win.

He was to bring with him a new club which was to cause an explosion in golf. He had been working for a year on the problems of bunker play and at that Open he tested out his method of exploding the ball from the sand.

Sarazen came up with the idea when he began taking flying lessons with his friend Howard Hughes, A thought flashed through his mind as he pulled back the joystick and the aircraft’s tail went up and the nose went up. The idea was that his niblick club should be lowered at the back.

He got a bundle of niblicks from Wilson Sporting Goods and began to reshape the clubs with a solder, putting a flange on the back of the club so that the flange hit the sand first. Until this point players used to chip cleanly out of bunkers otherwise the sharp edge became buried in the sand. At the time too many shots were being lost playing out of bunkers as the shot was being played to get out of the hazard, not nearer the hole.

Sarazen was consistently getting up and down in two at Princes and he won by five shots. When the concave wedge that was fashionable to use in bunkers was banned when it was proved it caused a double hit, Sarazen’s wedge took over.In later years Byron Nelson called his sand wedge Half-Nelson, because, like a wrestler, he always strangled the opposition with it… Sarazen he got little financial reward out of his invention because his equipment company claimed the rights. He should have called the lawyers!

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