What Is the Ferrule on a Golf Club, and What Is Its Function?

A Titleist iron with its ferrule pointed out
The ferrule, a black, plastic ring or sheath, is noted on this image of Titleist iron. The Acushnet Company

A ferrule is a component of most golf irons and some golf woods: It is the small, usually black, usually plastic cover over the point where the shaft enters the hosel.

What's the Purpose of the Ferrule?

The ferrule is mostly just a cosmetic element on a golf club. The role of the ferrule is to provide a smooth transition from the shaft to the hosel. With a ferrule, a golfer doesn't see the (sometimes) sharp edges of the hosel where the shaft enters the clubhead. The ferrule covers that up.

There is a special type of ferrule, however, called a "counter-sunk ferrule" that is more than cosmetic—it provides some extra bracing for the shaft/clubhead connection point. But these are fairly rare. A golfer is more likely to encounter an iron that doesn't have a ferrule (some clubs are made without them) than one with a counter-sunk ferrule.

In the early days of golf, when irons had shafts made of hickory, placing a band around the point where the shaft entered the clubhead did serve a purpose: It helped prevent the wooden shaft from splintering or shattering. But when wooden shafts disappeared from golf, ferrules took on a mostly cosmetic role.

(Wooden-shafted drivers and other woods typically used something called "whipping" rather than ferrules. Whipping was a strong thread wrapped around the hosel area, about an inch above and below where the hosel and clubhead joined. With modern metal woods and steel and graphite shafts, however, whipping is gone from golf. A wood will either have a ferrule or no cover at all over the hosel/clubhead joint.)

Did the Word 'Ferrule' Originate in Golf?

No, ferrule does not come from golf. It's a word that was already in existence prior to golf clubmakers using it.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, the non-golf meanings of ferrule include "a ring or cap usually of metal put around a slender shaft (as a cane or a tool handle) to strengthen it or prevent splitting" and "a usually metal sleeve used especially for joining or binding one part to another (as pipe sections or the bristles and handle of a brush)."

It's easy to see from those definitions how the word made its way into golf in the days of wooden shafts.

What to Do If a Ferrule Comes Loose

Sometimes, those little plastic ferrules come lose. One might separate a little from the top of the hosel, creating a small gap. Or wobble or even spin around. Or slide up and down a bit on the shaft.

Don't worry: In most cases, a loose ferrule is not a sign of a major problem with the golf club. It's probably just a sign that the glue holding the ferrule in place has loosened over time. (Do you store your golf clubs in a hot garage or hot trunk of the car for extended periods? Or run them under hot water when cleaning? Those things can cause a ferrule to loosen.)

First, check to make sure the clubhead itself feels secure. If you detect any looseness in the clubhead, then, yes, you have a problem and should visit a club repair shop. If the clubhead feels solid (and feels the same when you hit golf shots as it did before you noticed the loose ferrule), then you almost certainly just need to re-secure the ferrule. And you can that with a small amount of epoxy glue.

Ferrules are sold by golf club components companies, and you can easily find ferrules for sale by such companies online. And they are cheap! Replacing a cracked or broken ferrule with a new one, however, does require removing the clubhead. So if that need arises, it is best left to a professional club repairer or clubfitter.