The Equipment Insider

Going once, going twice ...

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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. 

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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.  

NAMES AND NOTABLES
>> Volvik, which is known for its vibrant color options, introduced its Tour S3 and S4 golf balls his week. The S3 caters to players with driver swing speeds from 95 to 110 miles per hour and who prefer a mid-launch, low spin trajectory; the S4 is for swing speeds in excess of 105 MPH. Perhaps more important is the S3 is offered in white and orange glossy color options, while the S4 comes in white and green glossy.

>> There is nothing sexy about divot tools. They are like spoons. You just want them to do the job properly. Well, Pitchfix USA, has introduced its GreenkeeperPro, a nearly 3-foot tool that is designed to repair ball marks with one injection into the green — and keeps a golfer from having to bend over. According to Pitchfix, the tool features “a spring-loaded steel cast head with stainless steel teardrop pins.” By pushing down on the handle, the stainless steel prongs are injected into the area around the ball mark. The prongs then retract to level the green surface.
 

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

>> Two models of Sun Mountain’s supercharged bags — the C-130 cart bag and the 4.5 LS Supercharged carry bag — are in market. The bags feature an external USB port wired to a portable power pack that will recharge mobile devices. Why the need, though, for power packs? “The ability to recharge on the go is important to the ever-increasing number of golfers who use their mobile phones to run GPS apps and stream music on the course,” said Sun Mountain president Ed Kowachek. The cart bag retails for $279.99; the carry bag retails for $249.99.


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