Born in 1872, Willie Auchterlonie won the British Open in 1893. Like many of the Open champs before him, Auchterlonie was a clubmaker. In 1887 he started working as an apprentice clubmaker in the shop of Robert Forgan. In 1892, he opened a business with his brother David and Andrew Crosthwaite. He continued working as a clubmaker well into the 20th century.
The club offered here, stamped "Auchterlonie" on the crown, dates to the early 1890s. One of the images included with this lot shows Willie posing with a golf club after he won the 1893 Open. The club in the image does not approach the style of a long nose club like this club does. These differences are a general indication that the club offered here is older than the one in the image. (Of course, Willie or even one of his brothers could have made a club in 1896 with the intent to match a club made 5-7 years earlier, but the chance of that is slim.)
This club is about as stylish of an Auchterlonie transitional club a collector can reasonably hope to find. The head shape with its well-curved face is a real beauty. The 41 1/2" shaft is original, and the leather-sueded grip appears to be original but rejuvinated, to restore the soft suede texture. The large amount of loft on this club adds to the elegance of this club. This club has certainly been used, but not abused. The horn has raised a touch on the heel and toe side, but could easily be glued back down.
Willie Auchterlonie was one of six brothers. As they entered into the golf world, most of them developed into fine players and clubmakers and the 'Lonie's of St. Andrews grew in fame. Brother Lawrence won the 1902 US Open. This was a great follow on for the family after Willie had won the 1893 British Open. In 1935, Willie was appointed honorary professional to the R&A Golf Club of St. Andrews. Shortly after Willie's death at age 92, his son Laurie was appointed to the same position.
This club is on the far right in the group image that accompanies this lot. For more on Willie Auchterlone, see TCA2 v1 p237.