Around 2:40 a.m. on May 16 a lone burglar with an ax broke into the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., smashed open display cases and ran off with two items—a U.S. Amateur trophy created in 1926 and a replica of Ben Hogan's Hickok Belt, which he won for being the nation's top professional athlete in 1953. The thief was obviously not a collector. The Amateur trophy and Hogan's belt are not highly valued, but some of the artifacts he passed over are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. SIGOLF+ asked Jeff Ellis, owner of Jeff Ellis Golf Collectibles and author of The Clubmaker's Art: Antique Golf Clubs and Their History, to list his top golf artifacts and estimate their values.
THE GOLFERS: A GRAND MATCH PLAYED ON ST. ANDREWS LINKS 1841
Completed in 1847 by Charles Lees, this 7' × 4'3" painting (below, middle) depicts a match played on the Old Course in 1841 between John Campbell of Glensaddell and Major Hugh Lyon Playfair against Sir David Baird and Sir Ralph Anstruther. The majestic work is the property of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which purchased it in 2002 for about £2.2 million ($3.4 million).
Estimated value: $5 million to $7 million
FIRST MINUTE BOOK OF THE GENTLEMAN GOLFERS OF LEITH
The book (right) contains the original "Articles and Laws" of golf written in 1744. These 13 rules provided the basis for today's Rules of Golf. The handwritten "Articles and Laws" remains in the possession of the Honorable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (Muirfield). Some would pay more than the estimated value to play by the same simple 13 rules just once.
Estimated value: $200,000 to $400,000
The set of six woods and two irons is widely held to be the oldest golf clubs in existence. The set is the property of the Royal Troon Golf Club and on display at the British Golf Museum in St. Andrews. Early this century an unsolicited offer of $4 million was turned down by Royal Troon.
Estimated value: $3 million to $5 million