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Lot
81174

1929 Walter Hagen British Open & Ryder Cup Tournament Used Golf Bag....

2011 November 10-11 Vintage Sports Collectibles Signature Auction- Dallas #7041

 
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Auction Ended On: Nov 11, 2011
Item Activity: 5 Internet/mail/phone bidders
1,203 page views
Location: Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

Description:
1929 Walter Hagen British Open & Ryder Cup Tournament Used Golf Bag. One of the most extraordinary Golden Age golfing relics ever to surface in the collecting hobby, this brown leather bag accompanied Hagen during his storied 1929 exploits in the United Kingdom as he claimed his fourth and final Open Championship and as he captained an American team that fell to the Brits in the Ryder Cup. The enormous historical relevance of the bag is matched only by its ironclad provenance, supplied in the form of photographs of Hagen engaged in the tournaments in question, and a letter from renowned golf collector Mark Emerson that traces each step of the bag's ownership from Hagen to present. In its entirely, Emerson's letter reads:

Walter Hagen's golf bag from the 1929 Ryder Cup Matches

This golf bag was the property of Walter Hagen when he played in the 1929 Ryder Cup Golf Matches at Moortown, the British Open at Muirfield and other events in and around that time period. It is hand-made, hand-tooled all leather with remnants of "USA" and the American flag on the side of the bag and the golf ball pouch. His imprinted name is still easily readable and very faintly "Ryder Cup Team" is embossed around the circular bottom band of the bag.

As to provenance, Hagen gave this bag to his friend Dick Stranahan, a longtime PGA Tour member and eventual curator of the PGA Hall of Fame when it was located in Pinehurst. When Mr. Stranahan decided to part with some of his accumulated golf memorabilia, I acquired this bag and a handful of his major championship badges in February of 2001. The transaction was arranged by golf memorabilia dealer Mort Olman of Cincinnati, Ohio. I sold the bag to Connor Lewis in November 2008.

Mr. Lewis is the consignor of the bag to this Signature auction. Lewis supplies as further documentation a 2009 letter from Bob Lilac, who worked with his brothers at the L.A. Young factory that made Hagen's clubs. His letter states, in part:

The photos you sent of Walter Hagen's 1929 Ryder Cup bag were fascinating. I only saw that bag one time and it was before I started working with my brothers at LA Young. That bag has seen a lot of action, and it seems it shows. As far as I know Walter used that bag for his entire 1929 trip to Europe. I'm afraid I cannot answer how much he used the bag once he came back to the States.

While several photos of Hagen with the bag are included in the lot, the photography is such that only a couple provide definitive views. Best is an image of Hagen chipping to the green in the Ryder Cup, his caddy holding the bag to his right. The distinctive diamond-shaped tooling below the rim of the bag is apparent, as is the zipper that runs the length of the bag and the octagonal combination lock plate attached to the zipper of the golf ball compartment. We can also spot the diamond tooling in the image of Hagen dressed as an aviator in front of an airplane, snapped just prior to the Open. The bag is at his feet. Note that these photographs are high-quality second generation prints.

Wear and age have claimed the bulk of the decorations recounted in Emerson's letter of provenance, but the remnants are still visible to the eye. Much more apparent is the "Walter Hagen USA" lettering on the lid of the ball bag, imprinted in silver. One must not mistake this wear as damage, however, as the bag remains remarkably solid and complete, with some separation at the zipper areas and a loose lower handle (beneath which the year "1929" is stamped into the leather) the only issues more serious than general surface abrasion. Certainly the condition concerns fall far short of compromising the enormous aesthetic appeal, and have no bearing whatsoever upon its unmatched historical importance. Letter of provenance from Mark Emerson. Letter of provenance from Bill Lilac. Pair of photo matches and numerous other images of bag in tournament use.

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