Among the most visual and storied antique golf clubs are Francis Brewster's Simplex clubs. Brewster's first patent for his center-shafted crosshead creations was dated April 14, 1897. He described his clubhead as boat-like, with a sole cambered both heel to toe and front to back, and made from wood. In 1897 he produced a booklet that described how to golf with his clubs, and how his clubs superseded irons. Brewster even played in the 1899 British Open using his Simplex clubs. In 1904 he formed the Simplex Golf Association, hoping to incorporate new users to his clubs and method of play. His 1906 patent called for making simplex clubs from aluminum, as it required great quantities of time and highly skilled craftsmanship to produced simplex clubheads from wood. Despite all of Brewster's efforts, Simplex clubs never caught on. But they do strike a great pose!
This aluminum Simplex wood was produced under his 1906 British patent No. 20614 and is a fine example in all respects. Despite Brewster's claim that making wooden simplex clubs was harder to accomplish, this aluminum head club incorporates a great deal of craftsmanship. Their is inlaid brass along the leading edge, and there are two blocks of wood that are inserted into the head, from the side, and the two block fit together tongue in groove, to provide a solid base in which to seat the shaft, the tip of which is visible on the sole. There is a 1/2-inch-long crack that runs across the tip of the aluminum sole, but the aluminum is perfectly stable and the crack cannot advance any further. The 38" shaft is original and the leather-wrapped grip is a period replacement.
Aluminum clubs were made in nine different models, from driver to putter. Brewster had hoped that the hammer-like design of his crosshead clubs would make irons obsolete. Some aluminum clubs are marked with a number to identify which club of the nine it is. This example is not marked with number, but judging from its 38" length and the high degree of face loft, this is clearly an approach club. The top of the head was marked "Brewster's Patent Simplex No. 20614 - 06," although much of the lettering is faint to non-existent.
Looking for a club with great eye appeal? When hanging on a wall, the most collectible/valuable patent clubs can usually be spotted with ease from 10 feet away, with no need to squint and look close or wait for a story. With this center-shafted-like-a-hammer club, a person can see that it is unique from clear across a large room! The 1897 wood Simplex putter in this auction and this 1906 aluminum Simplex approach club make a great pair!
TCA2 Vol 1, p 240-242