Which golfer invented the modern sand wedge?

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the golfer who invented the golf club known as the sand wedge, or sand iron, as he called it, was Gene Sarazen. Born Eugenio Saraceni in Harrison, New York in 1902, Sarazen was a leading exponent of the game of golf in the early twentieth century and the first player in history to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship.

However, far be it from me to argue with the fact-checked online encyclopedia, but to say that Sarazen ‘invented’ the sand wedge is an overstatement. History records that a patent for a not dissimilar club – based, like the Sarazen version, on the construction of an ordinary niblick, or 9-iron – was granted to Edwin Kerr MacClain, a member at Houston Country Club, in 1928; that was four years earlier than Sarazen unveiled his design at the Open Championship, at Prince’s Golf Club, Sandwich, Kent, in 1932.

MacClain added a protusion, beneath and behind the clubface, to prevent the already-hefty clubhead from sinking too deeply into the sand and promote an upward trajectory of the ball on impact. Whether or not Sarazen had previous experience of this design is unclear, but he experimented with the ‘flange’ idea, by applying varying amounts of solder to the back and sole of the clubhead of a standard, off-the-shelf niblick until he produced a club to his liking.

According to the United States Golf Association (USGA), the specifications of his brainchild were a loft angle of 58.5°, a lie angle of 63° and a bounce angle of 13.5°, making it, to all intents and purposes, a standard modern sand wedge. Thus, while Sarazen may not have truly invented the club, he can, at least, be credited with making a massive contribution towards its development.

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