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Traditional golf is certainly reemerging as a popular way to enjoy this great game.  Even so, demand for classic gear has remained relatively low with great deals to be had every day on the bay.  Such a readily available supply, together with a 24/7 world wide marketplace, has allowed golf lovers (even those with modest income) to amass collections that in all probability wouldn’t have been possible 30 years ago when persimmon still ruled the day.  Some collect for nostalgic purposes, others for the chance to acquire rare clubs of historical significance.  There’s certainly no need to collect in order to enjoy and appreciate traditional golf but, speaking from personal experience, sometimes it can be hard to avoid!  Below I’ve transcribed Ben Crenshaw’s thoughts on collecting as printed in the Forward from The Encyclopedia of Golf Collectibles by Mort and John Olman.

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“Everyone, at one time or another, collects something.  We as golf collectors are very fortunate, indeed, for our heritage has spanned some 500 long and glorious years.  Golf is the traditionalist’s game, having universal appeal to all who come in contact with this wonderful pastime.  Therefore, many objects, such as art, books, clubs and other equipment, silver and pottery, reflect a sincere devotion to their subject.  These collectibles are so wonderful because, in my mind, they reflect a deep appreciation of golf itself, a game with such a simple proposition, but such a difficult task.

Somehow golf seems to reflect the personality of the player, bringing out his most humanistic behaviors.  It is this strange and wonderful result, which happens to everyone who has held a club, that inspires people to write  a book, paint a picture, make a club and make it possible for these objects to become golf collectibles.

Exhaustive research to better understand , explore and improve the game of golf has enabled it to reach the level of popularity which it enjoys today.  I know that my hobby of golf collecting has helped me to better understand the game, its people, and its historic events.  I have approximately 400 golf books which have given me hour upon hour of pure pleasure.  I read about the interesting players of the game to learn which of their qualities contributed to their success.  I want to know about a particular player’s makeup, how he thought himself through a tournament, and how he handled a particular hole in an important event.

I also have a particular passion for golf course architecture, both in learning about its history and in helping to shape its future.  As a student and a practitioner of golf course design, I feel compelled to learn about the people who have been involved in the building of golf courses and about the special talents which made some of them so spectacular.

My study of history  and architecture books, and also of the many prints and photographs which depict golf course scenes, has been a most pleasurable learning experience.  It seems to me that anyone having a genuine interest in golf would naturally try to find out how the revered traditions of the game came into being and how they will be necessary for the continued success of the game.  Those that have studied the evolution of golf can see how these time-honored customs live today as colorfully as they appeared on the horizon many years ago.

In closing, it is appropriate that I raise a toast to the golf collectors all over the world…for it is their love of the game that we share.  My Master’s win in 1984 was, for me, a small way of saying “thanks” to them for their devotion to the game and its fine heritage.

Happy Collecting,

Ben Crenshaw

Austin, Texas

September 1984″

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I’ve asked a few known club collectors here at PGT to send along a few pictures of their collections. I threw them into a short slide show.  My thanks to all those who contributed and if others have pictures that didn’t make it in: please email them to me and I’ll update the slide set.  Enjoy!

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7 Responses to “On Collecting”

  1. Terribly sorry but Ben Crenshaw has zero credibility when it comes to talking about the heritage and traditions of golf,he should have remembered those words when he was witness if not party to some of the most disgraceful scenes ever seen in golf and could have secured a niche in golf history for all the right reasons if he had told Leonard to concede Olazabal’s putt,instead he exemplifies the very distasteful ‘win at all costs’ ethos.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Christopher. Perhaps two things can be equally true: The incidents at Brookline weren’t inline with the spirit of the game and apologies by Crenshaw and Lehman warranted and indeed made (I know Lehman’s apology was accepted by Torrance…don’t know if Crenshaw’s was or was not) ; yet surely Crenshaw has impacted golf in positive ways: his restoration of Pinehurst, construction of Sandhills, Bandon Trails, etc., his masters win in honor of the fallen Harvey Penick.

    This piece was intended to be about the relationship between collecting and a respect for the history of the game. The text quoted was from 1984. My personal belief is that Crenshaw, while having made his share of mistakes, does respect the history of the game and has demonstrated this through his design work which most agree is rooted in an understanding of what and who came before him. I respect your thoughts though; to each their own.

  3. Avatar of hickorychris hickorychris says:

    Thank you for your balanced handling of a potential disinterment of what was then a manufactured controversy. It was handled at the time as gentlemen do when volatile situations momentarily get away from them, with grace and apologies. To add to your endorsement of one of nature’s gentlemen is unnecessary.

  4. I can only assume that hickorychris has never seen footage from Brookline to be able to refer to it as “a manufactured controversy” and real gentlemen don’t allow a situation to escalate to the point where apologies will be required from any party.

  5. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Interestingly enough I spoke to Ben Crenshaw at Brookline during the US Open in 1988 during a practice round. It was a big thrill for me. I also attended the Ryder Cup which he Captained at Brookline. I was there on Saturday. Saturday evening while walking out of the gates US was down pretty bad. There were about 25 US patrons walking out of the gates and off the grounds, while 3 European fans, who seem to have a few drinks during the day loudly chanted the score. It was a really strange scene and I was surprised a fight didn’t break out. I also agree what happened on 17 was a bit unprofessional, but it didn’t have an affect on the outcome in my opinion. The US just came out and outplayed their opponents. I wasn’t there on Sunday to witness what some say were a few unruley fans bothering Monty and thats a bit unfortunate, but the golf decided the outcome that day.

  6. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    Just to add, I also respect CF’s opinion, but also put Ben up there with the best students of the game. He has really contributed a lot to golf and golf course design. He’s no Saint and nobody is perfect. I think fans and players learned something that day and hopefully things and I think they have would be better for future competition. I’m a huge fan of Jose Maria and its unfortunate his putt was disrupted. It could not have happened to a nicer guy.

  7. Avatar of Golfbulldog Golfbulldog says:

    Whose bag has those Mizuno persimmons…towards the end of the clip…I have a few of them and hit some of my happiest shots with Mizuno persimmon!

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