The elusiveness of Palmer's tournament-used golf clubs is the subject of
much frustration for advanced golf club collectors. Unlike virtually every
golfer in history, Arnold Palmer has kept nearly every golf club he's ever
used. Palmer began doing this rather early in his career, and amassed a
personal collection of over 14,000 golf clubs! In doing so, however, Arnold
Palmer has created an insatiable demand for his clubs among collectors.
Sure, every now and again, a Palmer-used club from his Senior days may
become available at auction, but clubs from the Palmer's prime are simply unheard of. Our research has only revealed two complete Palmer sets that
have changed hands between collectors - and both commanded figures in the
tens of thousands of dollars.
The presented clubs are almost certainly the finest Arnold Palmer iron set
not owned by Mr. Palmer himself. According to Wilson Sporting Goods, this
set was produced for Arnold Palmer by Wilson in 1958 and was likely
delivered to him in early 1958 (According to Wilson, their exact shipping
records from this time period have been lost). Sure enough, we compared this
set of Arnold Palmer Wilson Staff Model Dyna-Powered irons with a club from the set used
by Palmer to win his first Major Championship at The 1958 Masters
Tournament, and they are virtually identical with only minor differences.
This, together with information from Wilson, additional information from
conversations with Arnold Palmer's people, and with the story passed down
along with these clubs (that Palmer sold them to friend and fellow golf
professional Walker Inman, Jr. "for a friendly price" in 1963), we can be
fairly certain that these clubs were used by Arnold Palmer at some point
during the 1958 season after the 1958 Masters Tournament, when he would have
replaced the earlier, but almost identical, Wilson Dyna-Powered irons with
this newer set.
Additionally, even as we attempted to play devil's advocate and suggested
(for the sake of argument) that even though these clubs were made for Arnold
Palmer, maybe he didn't actually put them into Tournament play. This notion,
however, was quickly dispelled by both a representative from Wilson Golf and
a representative from Arnold Palmer's company. The consensus: In Arnie's
early days, he would generally only receive one set of clubs at a time from
Wilson, and at the very most 2. So any clubs made for Mr. Palmer in the
1950s were definitely put into play by Mr. Palmer shortly thereafter.
The presented set consists of a complete set of Wilson
"Staff Model" Dyna-Powered irons, 2-PW, with no serial numbers and
bore-through shafts. The irons are each stamped with Arnold Palmer's name.
***UPDATE*** We were able to locate a photograph of the 1 iron that Arnold Palmer used to win the 1958 Masters Tournament, which is currently owned by Augusta National. Take a look at the comparison photo we added to this lot. WOW. That 1 iron is very nearly identical to this set. We still think it would be too much of a leap to conclude that this set was used by Palmer at the 1958 Masters Tournament, though it certainly confirms our estimation that the offered set was produced for Arnold Palmer in 1958.