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Golf balls dating back to 1840 create bidding war at auction

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Enthusiasts will pay for the chance to own and collect part of their love, and golf die-hards are no different.

Earlier this year, GolfWRX reported on an auction of clubs used at the ‘Tiger Slam’ and, at the end of August, Golf Digest covered the sale of “some of the rarest, most valuable and historic balls ever produced.”

So said golf historian Jeff Ellis about the auction of over 75 antique golf balls, in a bidding war open to anyone until September 17th.

Listed as part of the Desert Mountain Collection, notable collector and auctioneer Ellis told Golf Digest, “I’ve not seen a collection of historic golf balls like this come out to the market in one shot in a long time,” and with seven of the series already shooting past the $1000 opening bid, the publicity is sure to keep the price moving in one direction.

Currently, number one in the bidding is Lot #11, the ‘Globe Map of the World Ball’ from 1908. Listed as, “made as a miniature globe, complete with labeled continents, oceans, and a few other places such as the North Pole, New Zealand, Britain, and Japan.” Indeed, “when this ball was introduced by J. P. Cochrane in 1908, it was so creative that it was immediately seen as destined for museums.”

As I write, Lot #11 is at $5053, whilst just behind are Lot #3 and Lot #1, both illustrating the work and bearing the names of their legendary makers – Allan Robertson and Tom Morris.

The Robertson ‘Featherball’ dates from circa 1840, and has never been used, still bearing the maker’s stamp and reference number – 29 – the weight and size.

Ellis told the publication that, “To find a mint ball like this is a real treasure,” before adding that the owner “just had an appreciation of the game of golf and its equipment as it was played early in the 19th century and before.”

At just under $3800, Lot #1 may seem a relative bargain, especially given the circumstances in which it came into production.

The auction site state that, “After years of working with Allan Robertson and perfecting the intricate art of making feather balls, he [Morris] successfully navigated their eventual demise by embracing the gutta-percha ball in both work and play.”

The ball is hand-hammered with details from the pen of Morris himself and, “all things considered, this ball is dripping with history, in outstanding original condition with the name stamp clearly visible, and would be a cornerstone addition to any golf collection anywhere in the world. No name from the 19th century is bigger than that of Old Tom Morris, and Morris-stamped balls are far more rare than Morris-stamped clubs.”

Ellis added a human side to the obvious sales pitch.

“It’s dang rare,” he said. “Its imperfections are authentic. The imperfections are what makes it real. What’s remarkable about this ball is its condition. You can find others that might have that T.MORRIS stamping but some of the letters are missing. The character of the ball, everything about it, has great age.”To put the lot into context with its  market rival, Ellis explained:

“There are a lot more Allan Robertson feather balls out there than there are Tom Morris hand-hammered gutta percha balls. So that is going to be the defining motivation for the bids, its rarity.”

There is plenty more on offer, from putters to medals, from irons to tees, and currently there are 25 lots without a bid.

Get along to Jeff Ellis Auctions to grab yourself a piece of golf history.

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  1. Pingback: Tiger Woods 2005 tournament-used and signed Nike golf bag sells for record price – GolfWRX

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19th Hole

‘F*****g hell! That was a low point’ – Rory McIlroy on 2021 matchplay loss to LIV defector

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The 2022 season was an excellent campaign for Rory McIlroy as we saw him rise to once again become the world’s number one player.

The four-time major champion came away with his third TOUR Championship victory, a win at the RBC Canadian Open, and another victory at the CJ Cup in October. While he didn’t secure the major championship he’s been coveting since 2014, Rory finished 3rd at The Open, 2nd at The Masters, 5th at the U.S. Open and 8th at the PGA Championship.

His year full of strong finishes is also backed up by the statistics. McIlroy was the best player for the 2022 season in terms of Strokes Gained: Total.

Prior to his impressive 2022 calendar year, McIlroy struggled in 2021 golf season. Rory recently sat down with Paul Kimmage of the Irish Independent to discuss some of the low points he’s had prior to his reclaiming of the top spot on the OWGR. As we’ve grown accustomed to with McIlroy, he was candid and thoughtful in the interview.

After a U.S. Open victory by Bryson DeChambeau in 2020, McIlroy decided it was time to chase more distance. This led to swing changes and difficulties to what eventually led him to his “rock bottom” which he identifies as the 2021 Ryder Cup. He was also beaten 6&5 by Ian Poulter at the 2021 Dell WGC Match Play.

“Yeah, I was beaten by Poulter. F*****g hell! That was a low point.”

Then there was the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, where Rory had won by eight shots back in 2012.

“Kiawah was the perfect example of where my game was; I’d won the PGA there in 2012 by eight shots, but we got there, and I said to Harry: “I don’t remember this course being so difficult.”

The swing changes turned out to be completely unnecessary but having witnessed other players go through them throughout their career, McIlroy was simply doing what he thought was best at the time.

“I’d seen other people do it and thought, at that stage of my career, it was what I needed. It was a difficult summer, but I was having what most people would call a decent year and was starting to think of it that way instead of, ‘It’s decent for most but it’s not good enough for me.’ And I almost needed to hit rock bottom at the Ryder Cup to snap out of it.”

McIlroy enters 2023 as arguably the best player in the world once again and seems primed to make a run at another major championship that he desperately needs. At 33 years old, there’s still plenty of time for the former prodigy to live up to the lofty expectations the golf world once had of him in regard to major championship victories, but it’s time to get going.

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19th Hole

Justin Thomas makes surprising Thanksgiving U-Turn

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Justin Thomas, set to tee it up as part of the select 20 at the Hero World Challenge, has admitted he might have been wrong about Thanksgiving dinner.

The former world number one, and winner of the 2022 PGA Championship, will look to finish higher than his best-of-event fifth place and secure some momentum towards the 2023 season. With that, the 29-year-old can reach some of the ambitious targets he sets himself each year – falling short of just a few in 2022.

Perhaps more suited to the relaxed, light-hearted nature of Tigers’s invitational, plus the upcoming Match VII and PNC Championship, JT called himself out on a three-year-old tweet about the traditional meal.

Replies were massively in favour of rejecting the turkey, with one response being:

JT, we do steaks in our house with all the traditional Thanksgiving sides and pies…you can do it…you just gotta make the choice to go for it…don’t lay-up from 200 yds on the par 5,” whilst renown golf story-teller, Ryan French, also agreed with the two-time major winner:

I’m not sure what the poor turkey has done. If done well, it rivals chicken, but JT isn’t having it, politely calling it:

If anything, at least we know what will never be on his Masters winners’ dinner menu.

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19th Hole

Two Phil Mickelson putters go up for auction…and Phil authenticates them on video

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Last week, we reported on the start of an auction on for one of Tiger Woods’ famous Sunday red shirts.

By Sunday evening, November 27th, there had been 19 bids on the shirt worn during the final round of The Masters 2010, with the current leading offer being $44,771.00. With 13 days left, auction house, Golden Age, will expect bids to reach well in advance of $50k, by some way the biggest price for any of the current ‘Tiger’ memorabilia on the site.

It might have been a good few years since the famed years of the Woods/Phil Mickelson rivalry, but Lefty can’t keep out of the news that his great rival makes, and he too has authenticated some iconic golfing gear – a pair of Scotty Cameron putters.

The first is a handmade Cameron putter that Golden Age can authenticate with photographic evidence.

“We have located loads of photos of Phil Mickelson using this exact putter during that 2002 GHO victory, as well as in the Open Championship, PGA Championship, and Ryder Cup,” the auction house confirms.

“This custom putter is a left handed red dot Circle T Scotty Cameron,” they state, before describing the flat-stick in full. “It has a teryllium face that Scotty Cameron himself personally inserted into this putter. The toe is hand-stamped PHIL.”

Photo-matching is great, but in an era when many are cynical about the provenance of auction items, it is hard to beat video evidence from the player himself.

 

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A post shared by Golden Age (@goldenageauctions)

In the video, Lefty states that, “They were both handmade by Scotty and I used them in the early 2000s. I definitely won with one for sure,” before confirming, “They were handmade by Scotty and myself around 2001.”

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