Offered here is the very putter used by Chick Evens for a period of time early in his career. This treasure came into the possession of Fred X. Fry, the Dean of American Golf Collectors. Fry's collection gained national fame when a number of national magazines reported on his collection between 1936 and 1963. For more on Fry and his golf collecting passion, Click Here. For more about Chick Evans and the history of this putter, keep reading!
Chick Evans was one of the most acclaimed golfers during the early 20th century. He was the first to win the US Open and US Amateur in the same year (1916). The only other winner of the "Double Crown" was Bobby Jones (1930). Evans also won the 1920 US Amateur, defeating Francis Ouimet in the final.
Born in 1890 and based in Chicago, Evans was a lifelong amateur and his record is outstanding. In addition to his US Open and US Amateur titles, Evans won the Western Amateur 9 times between 1909 and 1923, and he won the 1910 Western Open, an event that rivaled the US Open at the time. He played in a record 50 consecutive US Amateurs. In the 1955 US Am, at age 65, Evans advanced to the second round against a field that included 15-year-old Jack Nicklaus. He was a finalist on three other occasions and holds the record for most matches won (57).
Evans won many other events throughout the course of his life.
Possibly his most amazing win occurred in 1968, when he won the Illinois Open at the age of 78. This was not a senior event. Held by the Illinois PGA and open to pros and amateurs to determine the best golfer in Illinois, Evans shot 214 across 54 holes. Yet, for all of his accomplishments as a player, Evans is also deeply appreciated by golfers today as the founder of the Evans Scholars Foundation.
In 1960, Evans was voted the Bob Jones Award, the highest honor given by the United States Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975, four years before he died. Which brings us to the putter offered here—a putter owned and used by Chick Evans "in many championships" according to the brass plaque attached to the grip.
This club has an incredible pedigree. It was first collected by Robert F. Zeddies who was as good a friend as Evans had. Evans once took one of his large trophies and gave it to Zeddies. Before gifting it, however, Evans had it engraved "Bob Zeddies Friendship Is One Of My Beautiful Memories" with his signature directly underneath. Zeddies also received this putter from Evans.
Zeddies also had a relationship with Fred X. Fry. It was apparently a good one, as Zeddies, a member of the USGA museum committee at the time, gave this putter to Fry in 1937. Fry received the putter 5 days before Christmas according to the info on Fry's inventory page for this putter. Zeddies wanted his appreciation of Fry and the importance of this putter to remain forever known, so he had a plaque engraved and attached to the grip. The plaque reads:
"Presented to Fred X Fry in appreciation. This old putter used in many championships by Chas (Chick) Evans Jr. From the collection of Robert F Zeddies USGA Museum Committee."
It is not known what Fry did to gain Zeddies appreciation and this putter, but its safe to say that it had something to do with their common interest—Zeddies was also a club collector. A 1943 Associated Press article noted that Zeddies had rounded up 1,000 clubs in the prior 8 years, and they were going to be placed in museums at the Chick Evans Scholar House at Northwestern University and the United States Golf Association.
Evans' putter is marked "Alex Dunn, Special" on the top of the head. The 34 1/2" shaft is original as is the grip, but the butt end of the shaft has been trimmed to reach its 34 1/2" length. Two of Fred Fry's inventory labels are on the shaft just under the grip. The head itself has its original brass faceplate and soleplate. The shaft sockets directly into the head—and this is where this club gets really interesting.
The socket has been repaired and the shaft reset. As the auctioneer sees it, here is why and how it was done:
The top of the socket cracked in two directions, and the cracks started to run across the top of the head towards both the heel and toe. So, because of the cracks, the shaft became loose. To permanently fix this, the shaft was removed and the socket filled (at least partially, likely with a short wood dowel) so that two holes could be drilled, centered over the cracks on opposite edges of the socket. These two holes were then filled with two wood dowels. This would eliminate the cracks intersecting the socket.
Part of the two dowels remain visible on the head—one on the heel side of the socket and the other on the toe side of the socket. Also visible are the remains of the crack on the top of the head as it extends away from each dowel. Once the dowels were installed, the socket was redrilled and the shaft firmly reset. Alas, the shaft is slightly loose once again....
Unfortunately, it appears that a professional clubmaker did not do the work. The new socket was not drilled at the precise angle as the original socket. Because the new socket positioned the shaft more vertical (making the putter more upright), the tip of the shaft extends beyond the bottom of the wood head, which is why the sole plate is now slightly bowed as can be seen at the center of its leading and following edges. In addition, the shaft was not installed with the correct rotation. The collar at the base of the shaft does not match up to the top of the head like it originally did. It's not too far off, but it is clearly off.
An image included with the lot shows Evans putting in the 1915 US Amateur with what is quite possibly this very putter, but one can see from the picture that Evans did not use an upright putting style. Therefore, in the opinion of the auctioneer, when Evens tried using his repaired but more upright putter, it was not as effective as before. Given the failed attempt to resurrect his putter that had been "used in many championships," Evans had no choice but to move on and find another. Even so, it's easy to appreciate the effort put forth to rescue an old friend.
For the auctioneer to have the opportunity to spend some significant time with this putter, reflecting on the accomplishments of Evans and the history of this club—has been a real thrill. It's now easy for me to visualize Evans walking into my office and declaring, with a smile on his face, "I want my putter back!"