Lot # 16: Rare Set of Tom Stewart Francis Ouimet/Bobby Jones (FO\RTJ) Irons

Category: Golf Clubs

Starting Bid: $1,000.00

Bids: 7 (Bid History)

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Offered here is arguably the most important (and valuable) set of 20th century golf clubs: the infamous Tom Stewart "FO\RTJ" irons - produced without authorization to celebrate the world's two greatest amateur golfers, Francis Ouimet and Robert Trent (Bobby) Jones. 

The full story of these controversial irons is described in great detail in The Clubmaker’s Art:

“In 1929 Bobby Jones’s personal set of clubs was stolen from the trunk of his car, but returned to him shortly afterwards. Following this experience and using his personal specifications, Jones ordered a “backup” set of irons from [Tom] Stewart [in St. Andrews]. Jones, the consummate amateur, authorized Stewart to produce only a single set of irons. However, Stewart, the opportunistic businessman, did not stop production after fulfilling Jones’s request. Clearly aware that Jones was at the top of the golf world, Stewart began to reproduce the clubs he made for Jones. These clubs were marked with Jones’s initials “RTJ” in block letters on the toe or with "FO\RTJ in script on the toe. The initials "FO" identify another famous amateur: Francis Ouimet… These personal models were made in 1930, and possibly briefly in 1931.” (Page 143, The Clubmaker’s Art (2nd Ed. 2007) by Jefferey B. Ellis)

Ellis goes on to quote a 1970 letter from Bobby Jones himself where Jones responds to someone asking about one of these controversial “RTJ” Tom Stewart irons. Here is Bobby Jones’s response: “I doubt very much that the club you mention was ever in my bag. I had Tom Stewart forge some heads under my supervision and he took advantage of the situation by offering clubs for sale with RTJ stamped on them.”

As legend has it, Tom Stewart made a very small number of these irons and would only send a handful to accounts who were paid in full and placed a healthy order of his other clubs. In his book, golf club historian Jeff Ellis then opines that this theory makes sense since only a “few remaining sets” are known.

Offered today is one of the few remaining "FO\RTJ" sets. The "RTJ" set is rare enough, and sets can sell for close to $10,000. But, according to Tom Stewart expert Phil Gibbs, the "FO\RTJ" set is considerably rarer. This exceptional set consists of seven (7) irons - 1 iron through 8 iron.

These infamous Tom Stewart Francis Ouimet-Bobby Jones “FO\RTJ” golf clubs are in very good condition.