According to an article in the Dec 9, 1896 issue of The Golfer, George Forrester (1847-1930) began making clubs for his own use during the mid 1860s while working as an apprentice in the Scottish masonry business. After finishing his apprenticeship, he left for America to work as a stone-cutter. Once he arrived he wanted to golf, but at that time the game was utterly unknown in north america and there was no place to play. He eventually left the US and returned to Scotland.
In 1871, Forrester began to trade as a clubmaker for the public even though he was primarily self taught—which is a rarity. Many people predicted that his first year in the business would be his last. "Even in trade processes he was occasionally at fault. The mere matter of staining the heads was still a jealously guarded trade secret, and the same may be said of much else (ibid)."
George Forrester proved to be skilled craftsman who knew what he wanted. He endured and, over time, clubs made by Forrester of Elie came to be highly regarded. His business grew and he worked as a clubmaker well into the 20th century.
This circa 1875 Forrester play club was made during Forrester's early years. At 5 3/4" in length, the head is nicely elongated. Its face depth is only 1 1/16", a measurement usually found on those clubs made just after the end of the feather ball era. The width of the head is 2".
Overall, this is a fabulous club. The finish is all original, as is the shaft, whipping, and grip underlisting. Because the original sheepskin is gone, the extra bit of white underlisting used to build up the grip for just the left hand is visible. The lack of the sheepskin grip opens up a new world. The clubmakers work of installing the underlisting is front and center. It is interesting and informative in its own right. The club actually presents just as well with its underlisting only. Top to bottom, this club has a great look. Of note is that the original whipping on the base of the sheepskin grip is still in place.
The club itself shows only light use. The face is as clean as they come. In the images, there are a couple of light areas on the face. This is just the nature of the grain of the wood as it presents across the face. upon close inspection, the face is tight with no chips or cracks, and Forrester's original light file-edge scoring is still visible evenly across the face.
Forrester was also more than a clubmaker. He served many terms as an Elie Town Councilor, beginning at least by 1881, and he even served as the Provost (mayor) of Elie for three years, beginning in 1899.
By 1900, Forrester had grown to be a major player in the world of clubmaking. This beautiful club was made when he was a young struggling artist just trying to hone his craft. Truly, Forrester's story is one of "the little engine that could."
TCA2 v2 p569.