Golf has been a part of space exploration from the very beginning. Alan Shepard was the first American in space in 1961, but it was in 1971 when he used a specially made 6-iron to hit a golf ball on the surface of the moon. Sure, Alan Shepard, a member of the famous Apollo 14 mission, went down in history for more than hitting a golf ball 200 yards (182.9 meters) in zero-gravity, but his idea launched a legacy [source: Driscoll].
Sending a golf ball (or anything, actually) hurtling into space isn't always such sporting fun, although the outcome may be. As early as 1976, composite materials initially tested in the space shuttle program were used to make golf clubs that had just the right balance of strength and flexibility, leading to a new era of power swings [source: NASA]. As for the makeshift club that started it all? Shepard gave the storied club to the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J.