The USGA Museum is full of famous mementos, but the most exclusive room is hidden beneath

May 28, 2019

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The USGA Museum, situated next to the organization’s main headquarters in bucolic Far Hills, N.J., houses more than 70,000 keepsakes, plus 100,000 books and half a million photographs. Among the showstoppers on display: Arnie’s visor from his Cherry Hills charge in 1960, astronaut Alan Shepard’s moon club, and Tiger Woods’s wedge from Pebble Beach in 2000. But there isn’t a museum in the world large enough to display everything contained here. Only about five percent of the museum’s inventory is on the floor. The rest? Just head downstairs.

It’s called the Collections Storage Room, and it’s the first stop — and often the last — that a new item makes once the museum receives it via donation or purchases it from an owner or at auction. The climate-controlled room is as exclusive as it gets — the public never gets close, and just a few USGA employees possess keycard access. A sturdy table near the room’s center serves as a processing area, where new items are measured, photographed and catalogued in a first step toward preservation. “Once we receive something here, it’s no longer a golf object — it’s an artifact,” says Rosemary Maravetz, the museum’s collections registrar.

Among the items tucked away: golf-themed Peanuts comic strips, sketches by Rembrandt, a hockey-putter from the set of a certain Adam Sandler film, and a tome believed to contain the first-ever printed reference to golf. The date on that one? 1457—about what you’d shoot with item No. 2 in the bag (below).

For an up-close look at all of the goodies in the main photo, scroll down.

Above: 1. GOP-themed headcover used by George W. Bush (ca. 2005); 2. Bing Crosby’s treacherous 1-wood shillelagh (ca. 1940); 3. St. Andrews membership ballot box (ca. 1750); 4. Pants worn by Justin Thomas during round three of the 2017 U.S. Open, when he shot a record-tying 63; 5. Amelia Earhart’s golf bag (ca. 1930).
Yunhee Kim

Above: 6. Sectional driver designed by trick-shot maestro Joe Kirkwood; 7. Modified putter from Happy Gilmore; 8. Club used on Mt. Everest by Robert C. Vaughn to break the record for a golf shot hit from the highest elevation; 9. LPGA Tour winner Barbara Romack’s Ralph Lauren cowboy boots; 10. Gibbs Golf board game (ca. 1930); 11. Prohibition-era figurine used to hide liquor bottles (ca. 1920); 12. Sock used by Alan Shepard in 1971 to hold the golf club head used for his Apollo 14 moon shot.
Yunhee Kim

Above: 13. Wood used by FDR (ca. 1915); 14. Vintage sand iron (ca. 1780); 15. Final-round scorecard from Tiger Woods’s record-shattering 2000 U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach.
Yunhee Kim