This legendary Bobby Jones ‘Calamity Jane’ putter is up for big money at auction

August 2, 2019
Bobby Jones gave this Calamity Jane putter to a golf collector. Now it's on the auction block.

What would you pay for arguably the most famous club in golf history? We’re about to find, after a Calamity Jane putter belonging to Bobby Jones went up for auction on Green Jacket Auctions’ website. With the exception of Tiger Woods’ Scotty Cameron Newport 2 and Jack Nicklaus’ George Low Wizard 600 — two putters that played a part in a combined 29 major victories — it’s difficult to find a club with more history than Jones’ famed Calamity Jane putter.

Jones used Calamity Jane to win 13 major championships, including the Grand Slam in 1930. During the course of his career, Jones used two versions of the Condi rose model. The original version was actually made for William Winton, a golf club dealer from the Acton area of London, but made its way to the U.S. via Jim Maiden, a Scotsman who emigrated to the country and eventually became head golf professional at Nassau Country Club on Long Island.

It was Maiden who placed the Calamity Jane name on the putter after learning about American frontierswoman Martha “Calamity Jane” Canary, who was a notorious character during the mid to late 1800s.

Maiden kept the putter in his possession for years until the 1920 U.S. Amateur when he offered Jones the chance to try it out following a defeat to Francis Ouimet. As the story goes, Jones buried no less than eight consecutive putts with Calamity Jones and left the course with the putter in his possession.

Jones would go on to win his first three major championships with the original Calamity Jane before clubmaker J. Victor East noticed the club had become defective. The emery cloth caddies used in the 1920s to buff the head had put a twist in the sweet spot, wearing out the face of Jones’ putter.

East took Jones to a Snooker table to verify his findings and used a swinging pendulum device with a new putter to produce a putt that did not move off-line. When East tried the same test with Jones’ Calamity Jane, the ball went to the right pocket.

East would go on to make six copies of Calamity Jane — called Calamity Jane II — with one of the putters going into Jones’ bag. He would go on to win his last 10 majors with the second version.

As you’d expect, the two Calamity Jane putters Jones used during his career are currently on display in locations of prominence. The original resides in a trophy case at Augusta National Golf Club, while Calamity Jane II can be found at the USGA’s museum in Far Hills, New Jersey.

Which brings us to the putter in question being offered up by Green Jacket Auctions. Similar to a backup putter Newport 2 GSS made for Tiger Woods, this particular Calamity Jane is the closest anyone will ever get to owning the original.

According to the auction house’s website, Spalding partnered with Jones to produce a replica of Calamity Jane from 1932-1935, including one version with a registration number that was reserved for custom orders built to a player’s specifications.

Jones would go on to give one of his personal Calamity Jane putters, with the registration number, to club collector Fred X Fry. It’s unclear if Jones ever used the putter, but the simple fact it was in Jones’ possession makes it one of the most coveted clubs to ever hit the market.

To put things into perspective, a backup version of Tiger Woods’ Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS sold last year for nearly $90,000. Considering this putter was sent by Jones, and comes with a personal letter from the 13-time major winner, it’s very likely the Calamity Jane replica could fetch significantly more than a Woods backup on the open market.

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