The Equipment Insider

Going once, going twice ...
The starting bid for this lot of each Ping Scottsdale putter model ever sold in the U.S. is $20,000. [Photo: Jeff Ellis Golf Auctions]

Historian Jeff Ellis dusts off antique clubs

There is no shortage of so-called golf historians in the sport, but no one can claim to be the world’s authoritative golf club historian more so than Jeff Ellis.

The author of three compelling books on the subject — The Clubmaker's Art: Antique Golf Clubs and Their History, And The Putter Went ... Ping and The Golf Club: 400 Years of The Good, The Beautiful, and The Creative — has branched out. 

Ellis’ new company, Jeff Ellis Golf Auctions, opens its inaugural auction on Wednesday, March 6, at noon ET. The auction will feature more than 125 clubs and collectibles, each having been personally authenticated by Ellis. 


The Brown irons are among the most popular collectible clubs. The irons were obviously designed to play out of grass and sand, but also water. [Photo: Jeff Ellis Golf Auctions]

Ellis recently participated in an email interview with The Equipment Insider.

TEI: What prompted you to create an online auction?
JE: Between 1979 and 2005 I sent out Jeff Ellis Golf Collectibles catalogs every few months to a wide range of customers. That was my main business and something I really enjoyed. In 2005, I left the business to be a caretaker for my wife at the time. She was terminally ill with an inherited neurological disorder. After she passed in 2014, I finished writing And The Putter Went … Ping.  Once that was complete, a few close friends encouraged me to get back in the golf collectibles business. To do so was a natural step for me — a return to my roots, so to speak. I decided to open an online auction site specializing in antique clubs and historic collectibles. 

TEI: How long did it take for you to acquire the 125-plus lots?
JE: Early last October, when I announced at the Golf Heritage Society annual meeting that I was going to run an online antique golf auction site, word got around quickly. I was offered some wonderful items, which you can see on my site, by some collectors who knew me well and felt they could trust me.

TEI: Given your extensive background, are there a few items that are unique or quirky to you?
JE: Part of the real fun in collecting antique golf clubs is that nobody has seen everything. Unique items continue to turn up. A few such items in my upcoming auction are the following: Gene Sarazen’s engraved 1922 U.S. Open pocket watch; a complete collection of 29 Ping Scottsdale putters; three 1950s new-in-the-box Ben Hogan Timex Watches accompanied by a point of purchase advertising display; a hollow head putter with a screw in shaft; one of James Braid’s personal irons bearing his name; and the smallest set of golf clubs in a bag I have ever seen. And there is more, from water irons to giant niblicks.

TEI: What, in your opinion, will be the item that brings the highest bid?
JE: I am not really sure. The Ping putter collection of 29 different Scottsdale putters has the highest start price, at $20,000, so it would be a likely candidate. But a number of other items could easily exceed their start price, percentage wise, by more than the Ping putter collection. One never knows what will take off. Some things go cheap, other things go strong.  

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The LS 4.5 Supercharged carry bag features a power pack capable of charging mobile devices. [Photo: Sun Mountain]

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