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Lot
80054

Circa 1930 Bobby Jones Match Used Club with Exceptional Provenance....

2011 August Chicago Signature Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Auction #7037

 
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Auction Ended On: Aug 4, 2011
Item Activity: 5 Internet/mail/phone bidders Number of Bidders
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Location: Muvico
9701 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018

Description:
Circa 1930 Bobby Jones Match Used Club with Exceptional Provenance. The definitive text on the topic of Bobby Jones match used clubs was written by golf historian Sidney Matthew, the 1992 title "The History of Bobby Jones' Clubs." Matthews used his skills as a trial attorney to piece together all the evidence pertaining to the whereabouts and identification of Jones' authentic clubs. His research ferreted out the facts from the legends and the real from the alleged. In the end, Matthews was able to identify and certify only a couple of dozen authentic Bobby Jones golf clubs. Of course, all of them are fitted with hickory wood shafts, still the standard of excellence at that time.

Matthews accounted for fourteen of the sixteen clubs that Jones used during his final year of competition in 1930, the year Jones captured the "Grand Slam," winning the British Open, the British Amateur, the U.S. Amateur, and the U.S. Open all in the same year - a feat never accomplished by anyone before or since. Jones gave twelve of his sixteen Grand Slam clubs to Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters, in 1948, where they remain to this day. He gave his driver (he named it "Jeanie Deans") made by club professional Jack White to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews, Scotland, where it resides today in the British Golf Museum not far from the R & A clubhouse. And he gave his putter, Calamity Jane II, to the United States Golf Association where it is on display in "Golf House," their great museum. Only a Hagen concave sand wedge (used for only two shots that year) and Jones' coveted Run-Up chipping club remained unaccounted for.

It is particularly exciting, therefore, that the presented club (36" in length) happens to be a Run-Up, a flawlessly provenanced relic gifted to Jones' close friend O.B. Keeler. In Jones' 1926 book Down the Fairway (co-authored with Keeler), Jones described his use of a Run-Up club, "There is another kind of shot from just off the putting surface to which I am partial...with a little old cleek... The shaft is rather soft and of putter length, and the stroke is only a big putt, and I have found it pretty reliable in getting the ball at least decently near the hole."

Matthew documents the Keeler connection on page twenty-seven of his book: "O.B. Keeler subsequently expanded on this unique club: 'The first club I purchased was a second hand cleek, designed to handle the gutta percha ball. It was long, narrow, and graceful in the blade... I have the original today. I had two copies made, cut down to putter length in the shaft; and a few years before when Bobby was worrying about his short club shots, I asked him to try this little club. He played tiny approach shots from just off the green with such success with it, that he had Tom Stewart make up a dozen copies for him, all marked with his autograph.'"

Mathews goes on to say, "Of the 12 copies made by Tom Stewart, one has come to light recently. The provenance of the club runs from Jones to his beloved 'Boswell,' O.B. Keeler, and is stamped with the initials 'O.B.K.' on the back of the club. It bears the 'pipe' cleekmark and the unusual and distinguishable signature of 'Rob't T. Jones Jr.' It is putter length and has 'cleek' on the toe with a single 'punch dot' (signifying that Tom Stewart himself finished the club and not one of his hired workers) and 'HAND FORGED MADE IN SCOTLAND' all on the toe. Above the Jones signature is "SPECIAL" and below the 'pipe' is 'T.S. ST.A. REG. TRADEMARK.' It has a lined face. A plausible hypothesis is that Jones gave his run-up-club to O.B. Keeler and thereafter Keeler stamped his own initials on it."

Whether or not this Run-Up club is one of the two missing members of Bobby Jones' Grand Slam playing set is not certain, but it is clear that if there were twelve of them at one time it remains the only Run-Up club to turn up so far. And its provenance is impeccable, having been consigned in 1992 to Sporting Antiquities Auction House, where Dr. Barry Glaser purchased it for his collection. In the accompanying 1992 letter of consignment to Sporting Antiquities, the former owner of the club, Dr. William W. Hedrick, explains how his great aunt, the widow of O.B. Keeler, gave him the club in the early 1960's. As one of just a tiny handful of documented Jones club in private hands, the appeal of this lot is impossible to quantify. And as perhaps the only available club from Jones' fabled Grand Slam masterpiece, the value borders on priceless. Letter of provenance from gentleman who received club from Keeler's widow.

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