This circa 1870s Thomson driving putter has an attractive head shape with a slight amount of curve to the face. The original finish is still in good condition although the shellac has darkened so the name is not prominent. There appears to be a great deal of lead in the back of the head because this club is heavy!
Given the relatively short length of this club and the unlofted face,
it would be easy to think this club is a putter. The head, however, is
clearly not as upright as a putter, and the club's 37 3/8-inch length is
longer than the typical 19th century putter.
In 1896 Willie Part Jr. defined a driving putter as being like a
driver but with a "short stiff shaft and a deep face, more upright than
an ordinary driver and flatter than an ordinary putter, and it is used
for playing long putts and also for driving against a head wind; The
shortness and stiffness of the shaft ensure accuracy..." (See TCA2 v1 p
The short shaft in this club is made from greenheart, which makes for a stiffer shaft than hickory, and it is not cut
down. The butt end is properly finished and the shaft itself is old and
hand-split. Also, while the lie of this club is flatter than that of a
putter, it is not as flat as that of a full-size play club. The club is also decidedly heavier than a typical c. 1870s putter. The back of the club has been loaded with lead.
In 1897, James Balfour commented that driving putters were about the
length of a middle spoon, which typically would be somewhere around 39
inches, but that measurement was not set in stone. It is not surprising
to find driving putters of various lengths. The primary aspect being
that the club would not approach a driver in length, as it was to be
used in part as a putter for long putts. And if the golfer was short to begin with, the
club would likely be a little shorter as well. Then again, maybe someone just wanted a long putter with a really flat lie?
Little is known about Thomson the long nose clubmaker who did not include a first initial in his stamp. He did, however, make some very nice clubs. The clubhead features dimensions of 5 1/4" length, 1" 1/8 face depth, and 1 7/6" width. The grip has been replaced with another period-styled coated leather wrapped grip. The club remains in solid, above average condition.
For more on Thomson clubs, see TCA2 V1 p74
A group shot that shows many of the long nose clubs in this auction is
included with the images that accompany this lot. This Thomson driving putter is
the club on the far right.