When Bobby Jones’s green jacket sold at auction for more than $300,000 last year, it was yet another reminder that golf collectors aren’t afraid to spend big on memorabilia. From the obscure (a driver made from a ram’s horn) to the familiar (Tiger’s irons), here are some of the priciest pieces of golf memorabilia ever sold. -- Brendan Mohler
This portrayal of Bobby Jones holing the winning putt at the 1927 British Open is signed by Jones with a fountain pen and is one of 999 published by Currier & Ives. Jones was one of only three players to finish the tournament under par, defeating Aubrey Boomer and Fred Robson by six shots. Jones had a special relationship with St. Andrews, and after winning the British Open in 1927, decided he wanted the trophy to remain with his friends at the R&A rather than return home with him to Georgia.
Jack Fleck’s victory at the 1955 U.S. Open was the definition of a Cinderella Story. Trailing Ben Hogan himself by three strokes entering the final round, Fleck was playing a set of Hogan irons than Bantam Ben personally gifted him. Fleck ended up the victor, due in large part to a well struck 3-wood on the lengthy 71st hole at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Fleck defeated Hogan in an 18-hole playoff the following day, completing one of the greatest upsets in sporting history.
By itself, this club is special—lead back weight with a piece of ram’s horn. But the inscription -- “West Point D.D. Eisenhower 1915” -- makes it unique. Designed by J.H. Dwight, the club likely belonged to President Eisenhower, an avid golfer even during his presidency. It was in the estate of John Arthur Brown, the president of Pine Valley from 1928 until he died in 1977.
The site of Jack Nicklaus’ 16th major victory, Baltusrol Golf Club holds a special place in history. It was on the 18th hole on June 15, 1980, that Nicklaus set the U.S. Open scoring record of 272 (which has since been matched, but not bested). Originally possessed by Angelo Argea, Nicklaus’ caddie, Argea sold it to his dentist, from whom The Golf Auction attained the item. The flag also represents Nicklaus’ record-tying fourth U.S. Open win, which allowed him to join Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan as the only men to accomplish the feat.
This item is one of a limited number of programs printed for the inaugural event due to monetary issues. The program is 44 pages long and includes a course map with descriptions of each hole. Also included is historical information, photographs of prominent members along with several advertisements. In 1934 the program served as a source of advertising for the fledgling -- and financially constrained -- golf club.
Possibly the highest honor in amateur golf, the British Open 1st Amateur Medal has been won by the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Hal Sutton, José María Olazábal and Justin Rose. Stranahan earned the honor in 1953 for the fourth time in five years, shooting 70-74-73-69 at Carnoustie to finish in a tie for second behind Ben Hogan. Stranahan finished his career as one of the most decorated amateurs in the history of the game, having won two British Amateurs and finished runner-up in the Masters, the British Open and the U.S. Amateur. He also played on three victorious Walker Cup teams.
The battle for low amateur at the 1953 Masters was a quite closer than the British Open later that year, when Stranahan was the only am to make the cut. At Augusta, Stranahan was dead even with rival Harvie Ward after three rounds, and the two would finish 72 holes tied. Augusta National members decided to award a trophy to both men in the first tie among low amateurs at the Masters.
Acquired through a family identified as close friends of Bobby Jones, this is one of only 15 original tickets known to exist. It’s the third, and first for a long time, sold by The Golf Auction. Artifacts from the first ever Masters tournament are extremely rare and valuable, especially a ticket that has retained its color and shape as this has. The blue string can be found on Masters tickets to this day.
Major championship medals are rare, especially ones that are in great shape. Mangrum’s medal from the ’46 US Open at Canterbury Golf Club in Ohio was sold with a letter from his grandson certifying authenticity. A decorated war veteran who served under General Patton, Mangrum won the 1946 US Open in a playoff over Byron Nelson and Vic Ghezzi. For his efforts, Mangrum earned $1500.
The golf ball that Rory McIlroy used on the 18th green of the 2014 British Open at Royal Liverpool, during his fourth major victory, fetched quite the sum. McIlroy threw the ball into the crowd after completing the two-shot victory over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler. Heritage Auctions reportedly had 22 different bidders trying to get their hands on the ball, a Nike RZN Black with “RORS” embossed on the side.
Sold by Green Jacket Auctions, the irons and wedges Tiger used to win the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and the 2001 Masters are among the most highly coveted sports memorabilia ever to hit auction. The set consists of Titleist Forged 2 iron through PW, each of which are 1° upright and lofted about 2° weak. The two wedges -- a 58° bent to 56° with 8° bounce and a 60° with 6° bounce -- are each hand stamped “TIGER” while the irons are stamped “T”. Woods gave the clubs to Titleist Vice President Steve Mata once he got a replacement set later in 2001.
Though Bobby Jones never won the Masters, he played an integral leadership role in the early years of the tournament and the development of Augusta National Golf Club. Rather than a trophy-like symbolism, the jacket is a sign of Jones’ value to the club to which he dedicated himself after retiring from competitive golf in 1930. The jacket—complete with an “RTJ” embroidery on the inside chest pocket—was part of Clifford Roberts’ original green jacket order, placed with Brooks Uniform Company in New York City. Jones later gifted the jacket to an artist who had painted a portrait of him.