BC, CANADA – Are you a golf fan, or are you a golf fan? The former likely collects scorecards, bad tags or branded tees from memorable golf vacations on courses across Canada. The latter scours British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and more to find the golf artifacts and memorabilia that define Canada.
Golf antiquarians and savvy hobbyists agree: within the vast realm of golf, Canadian collectibles are few and far between. It’s a matter of numbers, geography and commerce. In the brush with greatness category there are five contending Canadians on the PGA Tour. Only two, Mike Weir, and more recently, Stephen Ames, have prestige, autograph-wise.
As well, while the game was born in Scotland and migrated originally to Canada, it was popularized in the United States, a union with 10 times the population of its northern neighbor. And, there just wasn’t a major manufacturer of golf gear in Canada as compared to the United Kingdom and the United States.
Golf History in Canada
Still Canada does have an illustrious golf heritage. The first recorded game of golf in North America took place at Priest’s Farm, now part of Montreal, in 1826. The oldest club in North America is Royal Montreal, founded in1873. Canada’s had great and colorful players including, Olympian George S. Lyon, brothers Albert and Charles Murray, two-time Canadian Open winner Karl Keffer, and power hitters like George Knudson and Moe Norman. Souvenirs related to the aforementioned have good international market value.
There is a sports antiquities dealer in Melrose, Mass., that advertises a dozen U.S. Royal balls, circa 1932, in the original cellophane wrappers for $1,000 (all prices quoted are in US $ unless otherwise noted). The same purveyor is hawking an “uncommon mesh pattern ‘Park’ Gutty with one tiny cut and missing paint” for $4,500.
Collectors in Canada Covet Golf Clubs
Collectors still covet certain clubs based on provenance such as the item’s age, history, original owner(s), relation to Canadian golf, rarity and notoriety.
The most sought after clubs were made by Robert Forgan. He had a shop next to St. Andrews and was the club maker to the Prince of Wales who became King Edward VII in 1901.
The most expensive collector clubs are those made by the McEwan family of Scotland in the late 1700s.
Post World War Two golf clubs used in Canadian events or by Canadians are also desirable. Meanwhile, Classic persimmon clubs from the 1950s and 1960s are works of art, notes Canadian golf collector Lewis Robertson.
Regrettably, collectable clubs, like commodities, fluctuate. “The classics has been devalued considerably,” says Robertson.
Also of interest to collectors in Canada are putters. “The late 1950s to 1970 was a classic era for putters,” Robertson said. “Not too easy to find.”
Golf Literature in Canada
Another of item collectors like to get their hands on is golf literature. The world’s most expensive golf book, according to Robertson, is “The Goff” by Tomas Mathison. Dated 1743, it’s reputed to be the first book on the subject. A first edition is worth between $30,000 to $40,000.
The scarcest Canadian golf collectibles, according to Robertson, are so far unattainable. They’re related to Canadian George S. Lyon, who, at age 46, defeated 87 other players to win the Olympic gold medal at the 1904 summer games in St. Louis, Mo. Legend has it that the British and American participants were so miffed by the upstart that they refused to participate in future games. As a result, 1904 was the last year that golf part of the Summer Olympic Games.
But Lyons’ Olympic gold medal is long missing.
Be sure to brush up on your golf collectible knowledge while in Canada. The Golf Historical Society of Canada in Toronto is at (416) 493-3049 and on the Internet at www3.sympatico.ca/bill.macdonald/. The Canadian Golf Hall of Fame and Museum’s number is (905) 849-9700, extension 213, and information is available at cghf.org.
Golf Canada’s West is the official golf course, tee time and golf packaging company of Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies. Call them at 877-323-3633. For additional information be sure to check out GolfTheRockies.net. For more BC and Alberta vacation and tourism information, please visit Banff National Park.com and Banff Travel.com.