Sotheby’s Antique Golf Club Auction

1 of 8 Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Last week, the Jeffery B. Ellis Antique Golf Club Collection was sold at auction by Sotheby's for $2,166,210, the highest total for a golf memorabilia collection. Ellis, 55, a golf historian from Oak Harbor, Wash., and runner up in the 1982 U.S. Mid-Amateur, was a full-time collector for 30 years and gathered almost 800 items spanning four centuries, from the 1600s to the end of the hickory shaft era in the 1930s. Why sell? "It's been so much stress to maintain," he says. "When I'd leave home, I used to wonder if there'd be a fire." Ellis described seven of his favorite items.
2 of 8 SI
Club: Square toe light iron Built: Circa 1600s Maker: Unknown Sale Price: $151,000 Ellis: The oldest club in the sale and one of the dozen surviving iron heads from the 17th century. The second-most-expensive item in the auction, behind the 18th-century Andrew Dickson long-nosed putter ($181,000).
3 of 8 SI
Club: Grant patent center-shafted approach club Built: Circa 1892 Maker: George Grant Sale Price: $11,250 Ellis: The only one of its kind that I've ever seen. Designed to play out of trouble spots, like from rocks or a wall. If the head didn't have a shaft, you wouldn't know it's part of a club.
4 of 8 SI
Club: Bromley & Brickley Golf Club trophy club Built: 1903 Maker: Unknown Sale Price: $43,000 Ellis: Visually stunning because it's all gleaming sterling silver except for the wooden shaft. Only 10 or so of the trophy clubs that were built in the U.K. around the turn of the century still exist, and this is one of two that are privately held.
5 of 8 SI
Club: Cochrane super-giant niblick Built: Early 1920s Maker: Cochrane's Ltd. Sale Price: $11,250 Ellis: The head is a monstrosity — it weighs more than two pounds and is six inches wide. When you stare down at the head, it looks as if you could cook a pancake on it. Probably never intended to be used, but rather to show off the clubmaker's skill.
6 of 8 SI
Club: Roy Water iron Built: 1880s Maker: James Anderson Sale Price: $25,000 Ellis: The first club designed to play out of casual water, which was a key skill because back then the rules didn't allow free drops from casual water.
7 of 8 SI
Club: Tom Stewart backwards putter Built: Late 1920s Maker: Tom Stewart Sale Price: $3,438 Ellis: Simply looking at the wand makes you feel the passion and frustration Stewart must have felt on the greens to have created something as wacky as this.
8 of 8 SI
Club: Hugh Philp presentation/prize putter Built: Circa 1840 Maker: Hugh Philp Sale Price: $37,000 Ellis: Philp was known as the Stradivarius of clubmakers. The engraving includes a Celtic cross, the symbol the Scots carried into battles, and crossed clubs and balls, symbolizing war of a different sort. Most likely the club was an award at a golf tournament. Click here to see how the new owners of these clubs can put them to good use