The First Call readers share their favorite pieces of memorabilia — and memories — that have special meaning
Question of the Week [April 18-24]: What is your favorite piece of golf memorabilia? Tell us the story behind it and share a photo if you have one.
Golf memorabilia falls into a couple of categories — items of rare or historical value that complete or hold pride of place in a collection, or those that are associated with a particular golfing memory: the time I met Arnie [Palmer], that special golf trip, etc. In my own collection of random items, there is one of the latter category, a small, circular cardboard medallion with a short loop of straw-colored yarn and bearing the legend “English Golf Union” around the circumference with “Press” in the middle. It is likely from around the late 1940s or so, perhaps later.
It was given to me by John Fischer III, a retired Cincinnati attorney and golf historian whose many articles, often under the heading “Random Golf Notes,” have appeared on such online golf websites as MorningRead.com, and in magazines and newspapers. A member of the Golf Heritage Society, his articles for that publication are well researched, never fail to interest and are possessed of a gentle humor that recalls a hint of Longhurst. Fischer’s father, by the way, was 1936 U.S. Amateur champion John Fischer II, the last person (1936) to win an important USGA title with hickory-shafted golf clubs.
In my own role as editor of the GHS journal, The Golf, I am privileged to work with Fischer on occasion to prepare his articles for publication. His accompanying notes are wonderful and the man is a treasure. But to your golf memorabilia question. One envelope from Fischer arrived with the above referenced medallion accompanied by a note that said, I recall from memory, something to the effect that “a member of the working press ought to be so identified in order that free lunches should not go wanting.” A simple gift, a simple gesture, but that little press badge always brings a genuine smile of pleasure. It has not yet earned a free lunch, but you never know.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
The letter I received from Ben Hogan, a few days after I wrote to tell him how much his book helped me.
It is difficult to choose my favorite piece of golf memorabilia. I joined the Golf Collectors' Society in 1990 and am the current secretary of the successor organization, the Golf Heritage Society. One accumulates a lot in that much time.
This is on the short list of my favorites. I found it for five bucks at an antique show in Portland, Oregon, in the 1990s. It has Bing and Bob, Ben and the Babe, Betty and, of course, Olin messing up the alliteration. Other than the last, what's not to like?
I actually have several pieces of memorabilia. In fact, it’s a set of 1961 Hogan irons that I had as a child and used to play a final round with my dad in Niagara Falls, Ontario, before he passed in 1973. While I have other pieces, like signed pics from Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson, plus a hole-in-one ball from the island green at TPC Sawgrass, none will compare to that set and final round with dad.
The Villages, Florida
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I should start by saying I do not collect hats and I only had two autographs to my name — Joe DiMaggio and Jimmy Brown. Many years ago (1999), the PGA Senior Bell Atlantic Classic was played at Hartefeld National Golf and Country Club Course in Avondale, Pennsylvania. AIG was a major sponsor, so I got invited to attend and ended up with clubhouse passes. It was an extremely hot day, so I actually accepted one of their hats, which I normally pass on. After walking the course and watching my idol, Jack Nicklaus, play several holes, I retired to the clubhouse bar for a cold beer. Lo and behold, Jack walks up next to me at the bar and orders a beer. We shared a beer and a nice conversation. At the end, I explained that he was my idol and I normally do not ask for autographs, but this was a one-in-a-million opportunity. He graciously signed my hat and went on his way. The hat sits proudly in my office. Without a doubt, the greatest golfer of all time and a very gracious man.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
The last Palmer Peerless Persimmon made at the Palmer Chattanooga [Tennessee] factory — a densitized 5-wood autographed by Arnold Palmer. When my beloved 5-wood cracked, I would not give up my favorite wood and switch to metal.
Our professional at Latrobe Country Club, Randy Bisi, asked the plant if they could help Arnie's friend John Rusbosin. They agreed to assemble this last wood with leftover stock.
After a few more seasons, I had the club refinished and gripped with Lamkin.
Arnold autographed it and it was never used again. Priceless memory and collectible.
I got to meet and spend some good time and laughter — along with signed memorabilia — with Chi Chi Rodriguez.
Woodhaven, New York
Nothing can top, for me, my father’s hole-in-one plaque with a red-dotted Maxfli circa 1970.
My Gretna, Pennsylvania
My scorecard from TPC Sawgrass. My son played with me and we both parred 17. A very special day.
I’m a veteran PGA Tour volunteer and on a few occasions was an escort marshal assigned to Tiger Woods. At the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone it was very hot and I made sure that his entourage (Rob McNamara, Glenn Greenspan, [caddie Joe] LaCava’s daughter) had plenty of water. As a thank you, I was given this signed TW hat.
John M. Rothberg
North Palm Beach, Florida
My favorite golf memories are of the two trips I have made to the Masters. In 2006, my son and I went for a Monday practice round and in 2015 my son and I and our wives went for a Wednesday practice round. In 2015, we watched the Par-3 Contest, saw Jack Nicklaus hit a hole-in-one, and had our picture taken in front of the clubhouse. Both fantastic trips that I will always remember and hope we can go again.
For me it’s golf ball markers from courses I’ve played. I have a poker chip display I put them. I buy blank poker chips and use them with the magnetic ball marker or get poker-chip ball markers from courses.
Marlboro, New Jersey
Arnold Palmer and Jackie Gleason in a 1963 exhibition at Shawnee on the Delaware. I picked this up at a golf tournament auction for my dad. He loved both Jackie and Arnie. This started as the nucleus of my golf memorabilia collection.
Palm Beach, Florida
Pine cone I picked up while walking down the 10th fairway at Augusta National. The only souvenir I would leave the grounds with. It was a glorious day.
On May 18, 1998, we opened the World Golf Hall of Fame [in St. Augustine, Florida] with a re-induction ceremony for all of the at-the-time living Hall of Fame members. The WGHOF was the consolidation of all existing halls of fame for each of the global golf organizations — USGA, LPGA, PGA Tour, PGA of America, R&A, etc. I had the honor of being the director of corporate marketing/brand guy at that time in my career. Prior to the ceremony we hosted all of the those Hall of Famers in the Shell Suite, which acted as our green room for the day. Somehow when the doors closed, I was the only person in the room other than them. I was literally the fly on the wall, completely invisible to the most amazing collection of golf royalty on the planet.
Along with the distinguished guests, staffers each got a gold embossed press kit with our names on it. Mine went missing. Two weeks later, my assistant, Inhye Stevens, gave me a gift-wrapped box to congratulate me on the birth of my daughter, who was born on the 23rd, just days after the ceremony. The gift was my gold-embossed press kit signed by every member of the World Golf Hall of Fame at that ceremony. On the top left-hand corner it is signed, “To Hannah, Love Inhye.” Hannah has since gone on to be a golfer, now playing professionally.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
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