Family heirloom on eBay: Alf J Ward, Special

Two years ago, I made a spectacular find related to my family’s history. A simple Google search let me to an eBay listing for a putter stamped with “Alf. J. Ward, Special.” The seller had purchased the club at an auction house that consolidated estate sales in Whiteford Township, Monroe County Michigan. Monroe County was where my great-grandfather Alfred John Ward (Alf J Ward) was a golf professional at Monroe Golf and Country Club in 1920.1 My Grandfather James was born here on 23 Nov 1920.2

Above the name stamp is an arrow with the word “ACCURATE” on top and on either side of the oval a rose. At the toe end of the putter is an upside down ball peen hammer. After receiving the club in the mail, I realized it was in even better shape than I expected. The unpolished metal had a protective and handsome patina. The hickory showed no signs of rot and the original grip was intact.3

 

I could not find a photo in any catalog exactly like this but the markings look very close to the Spalding Gold Metal Series from the Spalding Golf Guide, 1915.4 Spalding & Brothers used the “Accurate” arrow on clubs between 1910-1920.5 The upside-down ball-peen hammer mark on the toe appeared on iron heads made in the company’s London location and sold to club professionals between 1905-1915.6

I found another of his clubs listed on the website of JP Hickory Shafted Golf Clubs.7 The collection on the website was owned by Joseph Pendracki of Wayne County, Michigan during his lifetime.8 The owner of the website did not know much about history of the clubs but sent me pictures. After seeing the photos, I knew this mashie had to have belonged to my great-grandfather as well.

The condition of the mashie is slightly different. The grip is darker and in better condition or possibly replaced/repaired, I cannot tell. The markings are also different on the face and back but both clubs read “Alf J Ward, Special,” both were made around the same time between 1910-1920 and both were found in the same area of Michigan where Alf J Ward was a golf professional. They were definitely my great-grandfather’s clubs: family heirlooms that found their way back home after 90 years.

Reference Notes


  1. Golf club, putter and mashie made for Alf. J. Ward by Spalding & Brothers, ca. 1910-1920; privately held by E Lopresti, Virginia Beach, VA, 2014. [Stamped “Alf. J. Ward, Special.” Cleek marks on putter include Accurate Arrow, two roses and upside down hammer.]
  2. “Golf Comment, News and Views,” The Indianapolis News, 23 Mar 1923, p. 34, col.2. Online archives, Newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/256854 : 2016. 
  3. “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” James Joseph Ward, 317014743, index, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com: 2016); citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007, Social Security Administration.
  4. Thomas Bendelow, editor, Spalding’s Official Golf Guide, 1915 (New York: American Sports Publishing Co., 1915), 262; The Library of Congress collection at Archive.org, https://archive.org/stream/spaldingsofficia07unit#page/n263/mode/2up : 2009.
  5. Chuck Furjanic, Antique Golf Collectibles: A Price and Reference Guide (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2003), 171-182; Google Books, https://books.google.com/books?id=UHDxsF72_b8C : accessed 23 Aug 2016.
  6. “Golf’s Cleek Makers and Cleek Marks,” Pasturegolf.com, 2 Feb 2008, http://www.pasturegolf.com/archive/cleek.htm : accessed 23 Aug 2016.
  7. J P Hickory Shafted Golf Clubs, http://jphickoryshaftedgolfclubs.com : accessed 23 Aug 2016.
  8. Susan Bairley, “Club Nostalgia,” Heritage, A Journal of Grosse Pointe Life, vol. 6, no. 3 (Mar 1989): 26-31; Grosse Pointe Public Library, Local History Archives, http://digitize.gp.lib.mi.us/digitize/magazines/heritage/1985-89/89/1989-03.pdf : accessed 23 Aug 2016.

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