The great Sam Snead passed away in 2002, leaving behind an incredible legacy in golf that included seven majors, the all-time record for most PGA Tour victories, success in the Ryder Cup and so much more. Now, more than a decade after his death, his family is putting a large collection of his trophies and memorabilia up for auction.
The first offering will be Aug. 1-2 in what Heritage Auctions calls a ''Platinum Night Sports Auction'' at the Muvico Theater in Rosemont, Ill. The online bidding began last night. Two other auctions involving the Snead Collection are planned for the fall and next spring.
''We consider it the most significant golf collection that's ever been offered,'' Chris Ivy, the director of sports at Heritage Auctions, told Doug Ferguson at the Associated Press. Snead’s son, Jack, said the pieces have been displayed for years at the Greenbrier Resort, the restaurant chain called Sam Snead's Taverns, the occasional museum and at home in Hot Springs, Va.
This is the first time the items have been offered at auction.
''We've been thinking about this, trying to decide what to do because our company has so much stuff,'' Snead said. ''We just thought maybe it was time to share it with golf fans and historians. We've had most all of dad's trophies on display at the Greenbrier over the last 16 or 20 years. I don't know. I'm not too keen with museums. We've had some weird experiences with museums when we've loaned things out.
''We're going to have tons of stuff we'll maintain ourselves,'' he said. ''The rest we'll let it go out and see what happens.''
Here’s the rest of Ferguson’s report:
Snead’s Masters' trophy and silver claret jug are each expected to bring in $100,000 or more. Ivy estimated the entire collection will get several million dollars. ''A collection of this magnitude hasn't been offered before,'' he said.
Ivy said previous golf items through Heritage included the original Augusta National green jacket of co-founder Bobby Jones that fetched $310,000.
Other high-end golf items were Walter Hagen's gold medal from his 1922 British Open win at Royal St. George's and Ralph Guldahl's gold medal from the 1939 Masters. Each went for $65,000.
Snead said the proceeds would likely to go charity.
''The trophies didn't mean that much to Pop in a way,'' Snead said. ''In those days, he was more concerned with the paycheck. The thing he was most proud of was his record. He cared more about than any of his tournament wins.''
Snead said there were some items that would never be sold at auction, though they weren't all related to Snead's golfing career. He mentioned the tractor that Snead rode on his farm in Virginia to relax when he was away from golf, some of the guns Snead had since he was a boy growing up in West Virginia, and the five-string banjo he played.
For Heritage Sports, there wasn't as much work involved in authenticating the items. Snead did that himself.
His son said when they used to display the items in Sam Snead's Taverns, his father thought it would be a good idea to write a note explaining the significance of each.
''The provenance is much better coming from the family of an athlete,'' Ivy said. ''That's something Snead did that I've never seen done before. He went through and numbered all the clubs he owned – the significant ones – and wrote letters of authentication of each club. We've got handwritten letters from Sam Snead saying, 'This is the club used in 1954 in the playoff with Ben Hogan to win the Masters.' He's got literally hundreds of those.''
Other items being offered in the initial auction include the putter Snead used in the 1954 Masters; the red captain's jacket he wore in the 1969 Ryder Cup; the Wanamaker Trophy from his 1951 PGA Championship victory at Oakmont; a Ryder Cup trophy from 1959; the gold medal from his first Masters win in 1949; and a silver medal from the 1947 U.S. Open. The U.S. Open was the one major Snead never won. He lost in a playoff to Lew Worsham in 1947 at St. Louis Country Club.
''It's a pretty exciting collection,'' Ivy said.
To see photos and descriptions of all the items, click here . But hands off Snead’s personal 1959 Ryder Cup – that one’s for me!