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Posted April 09, 2011 12:04 am
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Clubs used by Eisenhower being sold in online auction

 

A set of golf clubs used by President Eisenhower sat abandoned in a shed behind an Augusta home for years.

After today, they will be in the hands of the highest bidder on an online auction site.

New Jersey-based Green Jacket Auctions is taking bids until 8 p.m. today for Eisenhower's golf bag and his five Spalding Bobby Jones golf clubs.

Because the clubs were found in Augusta and had a custom Augusta National Golf Club head cover, Green Jacket Auctions owner Bob Zafian assumes the president played with the clubs on the Augusta National course.

"This is just an amazing find," Zafian said.

The only other Eisenhower golf bag with the same five-star design noting his rank as a general currently sits in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, according to the auction's Web site.

The set was discovered in a backyard shed 30 years ago by a man when he purchased a piece of property in Augusta.

The family kept the set until this year, when they contacted Zafian in hopes of passing the treasure along to someone else.

As he arranged the auction, Zafian also tried to figure out how the clubs ended up in the shed and who left them there.

"It's possible Eisenhower had given them to a caddie, because he had several caddies during his time (in Augusta)," Zafian said.

"But it's strange someone would move and just leave them in a shed."

The auction house, which has been in operation since 2005, confirmed the authenticity of the clubs through photo matching.

Zafian compared the script letters of Eisenhower's name on the bag to his other known sets.

He said the golf bag is a new addition to the Masters Tournament memorabilia the auction house has sold.

In one of his recent auctions, Zafian sold an original 1934 Masters program for $16,000 and a 1957 Doug Ford Masters green jacket for $62,000.

"We have some buyers who are very sophisticated collectors that purchase very, very expensive items," Zafian said. "Then we have our casual collectors who purchase lesser-priced items because they like golf."

The Golf Auction also has an extensive online offering this week, including a 1934 program and signed items from the first five Masters winners: Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Henry Picard and Ralph Guldahl. The auction, which concludes at 7 p.m. Sunday, includes several items signed by Augusta National and tournament co-founder Bobby Jones.

Though the Eisenhower golf set had a bid of $8,138 Friday morning, Zafian said he expects the bids to increase before closing this evening.

Reach Tracey McManus at (706) 823-3424 ortracey.mcmanus@augustachronicle.com.