Born in 1842, Jamie Anderson once the best golfer in the world, winning the British Open three years in succession—1877, '78, '79. To win the 1878 Open by two shots, Anderson scored four under par across the last four holes at Prestwick. He holed out his approach shot on the 15th hole for an eagle three and then on the 17th hole, a par 3, he holed his tee shot! Talk about an unbelievable finish!!
In addition to being an outstanding golfer, Anderson was a skilled club and ball maker. He was the first apprentice/assistant Robert Forgan employed after taking over Hugh Philp's business in 1856. When Tom Morris moved from Prestwick to St. Andrews in 1864, Anderson had also learned to make golf balls working with his father, Old Daw.
Anderson was working for Tom Morris when the Royal Perth Golfing Society offered him the professional job in 1865. Royal Perth, however, did not hire him at that time because Anderson's price was too high. Nevertheless, Anderson struck out on his own and established a clubmaking business in St. Andrews. Two-time Open champ Bob Martin went to work for Anderson at some point in the late 1860s/early 1870s. Martin, born in 1852, served his full clubmaking apprenticeship under Anderson. Leaving St. Andrews for a brief period, Jamie took a job working for Ardeer Golf Club in Ayrshire in 1882 before he wound up working briefly at Royal Perth in 1883. By 1890, Anderson was back working for Robert Forgan. By 1898, he was working for R.B. Wilson. Towards the end of his life, Anderson's health became an issue and he died in a poor house in 1905.
The 43-inch, circa 1875 play club offered here is a beautiful example of Anderson's work. The original golden blond finish remains in marvelous shape with only a slight loss of some of the original varnish just behind the top line. The shaft and grip are original, as is the whipping at the base of the grip. The horn, pegs, and lead are also original. The whipping at the top of the grip and the neck has been replaced with period-style whipping. There appears to be a small, inconsequential hole filled in the center of the sole.
Overall, this is an wonderful club that took a 3-time British Open champion many hours to make. It is not only attractive, it is also a part of the game as played roughly 145 years ago.
The auctioneer has often scratched his head given the fact that a comparatively extreme amount of hand milled and even CNC milled putters produced by various putter makers in the last 30 years has sold for far more than many-a-club made without electricity by the hands of a British Open champion or other truly skilled 19th century artisans. If one appreciates golf's history, now is a great time to collect the old masters and this Anderson play club qualifies—it's an elegant work of art, and he won't be making any more.
For more on Anderson, see TCA2 V1 p82-83. (The auctioneer confesses his own deep appreciation for the fact that the man who made this club also scored an eagle and a
hole-in-one across the
last 4 holes of the British Open over 140 years ago, to win by two, plus
he won the Open three times in succession. Amazing! I hope you enjoy the c.1877 image of Anderson included with this lot.)