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On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. But for golf fans, a way more important moon landing happened on February 6, 1971.

It was when astronaut Alan B. Shepard Jr stepped onto the surface with a make-shift Wilson Staff 6-iron, which he’d stashed aboard Apollo 14, and hit two balls that he’d hidden in his spacesuit.

The story behind the club is a funny one. Determined to do something special when he was on the moon, Shepard – who was the first American in space in 1961 – got in touch with his local club pro in Houston, who connected the 6-iron’s head with the shaft of a piece of rock collecting equipment.

The idea largely remained a secret, with only a small amount of staff at NASA being aware of what Shepard was attempting to do. He made sure the club was kept under wraps by covering it with a sock.

Read more – 32 courses as seen from space

Ahead of hitting the balls, Shepard said: “In my left hand I have a little white pellet familiar to millions of Americans. I’m going to try a little sand-trap shot.”

That he did. The second shot, as Shepard remarked at the time, went ‘miles and miles and miles’. It went approximately 300 yards with 35 seconds of hang time. Yes, that’s with a 6-iron.

The first one, as all of us club golfers can sympathise, was whiffed, then shanked!

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But this wasn’t just done for a bit of fun. There was some science behind it, with the astronaut keen to prove that with little atmosphere and much lower levels of gravity, golf balls should travel much further on the moon than on earth.

Shepard died at the age of 74 in 1998 but he donated the club to the USGA Museum in New Jersey, meaning generations to come can hear the story behind the golf club that went to the moon.

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