Tom Morris golf shop, c. 1888

Grant Payne and 3D printed gold clubsIf you're a fan of the United States 2014 Ryder Cup team, you had a rather disappointing weekend. But fear not, this might provide you a little cheer from Scotland, the birthplace of golf.

The Scots once produced golf clubs in their pro shop designed specifically for nearly every eventuality a player might face on the links. Golfers could choose from a bewildering array of baffies, spoons, mashies and specialty clubs of all stripe and shape. The work was done by the hands of some of the greatest players and teachers in the history of the game, and it is now prized by collectors and historians.

The great players of the day, along with their work as green keepers, ball makers, golf instructors and course designers, were club makers as well. Between their duties they played matches and tournament golf.

Now a team of researchers at the University of Dundee have used 3D printing to reproduce replicas of the world's first metal clubheads.

The driving force behind the project, Grant Payne, a graduate of Dundee in product design, digitized the original set of clubs via 3D scanning to preserve the various elements from more than 125 years ago.

3D printed rake ironTaking a set of irons from the British Golf Museum in St Andrews, Scotland, the division of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the university enlisted the help of St Andrews Golf Co. to create the historic irons, woods and putters.

St Andrews Golf Co. was the ideal choice to take part in the project as they're one of very few firms who produce golf clubs by hand in the manner of Old Tom Morris.

The clubs in question, a 'President Water Iron' circa 1885 by James Anderson of Anstruther, and a 'Rake Iron' of unknown origin, were sent to EOS in Germany to be printed in cobalt chrome. The printing took some 29 hours.

"The avenues opened up by combining the latest in manufacturing technology with the traditional craftsmanship practiced by St Andrews Golf Co Ltd are exciting," Grant says. "It was only made possible through our industrial partnership with the University, and we hope it will demonstrate to people we're thinking about the future, whilst being considerate of the past."