While Willie Park Jr was not the first person to produce a compressed wood club, he was the first person to patent it. According to his patent (obtained November 7, 1894), Park sought to construct better clubs by bending the wood head to shape. He wrote, "I use a piece of wood (preferably hickory) which is bent from the straight form...to a curved shape...The wood is compressed either before or after being bent so as to give it additional solidity and strength. The head is cut or shaped out of the bent piece..." The wood was bent so that the grain would run straight across the bend and straight up the neck. Park, using steam and pressure to bend and compress the wood, believed his club would be extremely durable, and even warrantied them against breakage.
This driver has it's original 43 1/2" shaft stamped "WM Park". The head is stamped "Wm Park's Compressed Patent."
Somebody back in the day really liked this club. It obviously suffered quite a bit of damage, but was dutifully made anew- ready for the battle. The face has a leather insert which is seen from time to time, but the sole has had extensive repairs. The horn was removed and the sole cut out to accept a wider and thicker piece of horn. Furthermore, to patch up the heel on the sole, wood was removed and a sizeable piece of leather was glued and nailed in place, just like with the face insert. Such a leather repair to the sole is quite unusual. The lead backweight has shifted out of the head a short distance. No
need to fix that as it is immovable as it currently positioned
While this club is a long way from original, to the auctioneer that very fact is a good thing in its own right. All the repairs show the fragile nature of wooden clubs over 120 years ago, the skill and methods of the clubmaker to mend such damage, and the desire of the golfer to rescue and continue using what was obviously a valued friend.
See TCA2 V1 p360-361 for more information on Willie Park Jr's Compressed Wood Driver.
This club is second from the right in the accompanying group image.