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Babe Zaharias' U.S. Women's Open-winning clubs make golf auction history

March 04, 2024
514958264

Bettmann

We told you last week about Babe Zaharias' U.S. Women's Open-winning clubs going up for auction and attempting to reach rare air behind the more than $5 million a collector paid for irons Tiger Woods reportedly used to win his Tiger Slam-winning irons in 2022. While they didn't grab a seven-figure sum, they did fetch an impressive amount. Zaharias' set went for $296,246 including commission in The Golf Auction's latest sale, smashing the standard another Zaharias-used set established in an auction earlier this year by more than $250,000.

Tournament-used clubs from Hall of Fame legends aren't available often. Beyond Woods' irons, a putter Arnold Palmer used to win the 1964 Masters went for $94,152 in 2017. The Golf Auction also sold a set of Jack Nicklaus' early-1960s-era game-used irons for $67,192 in 2023. At The Golf Auction's last sale, the set Zaharias clubs used to win her final two events before she died at 42 sold for $37,925.

This set of Zaharias' clubs from the 1954 U.S. Women's Open were the headliner in a sale that included a fascinating array of artifacts from the Babe Zaharias Foundation's archives. Among them was a set of music-legend James Brown's personal Ping clubs (in a Masters bag with a personalized tag) that the Godfather of Soul donated to the foundation in the 1990s. Those hammered for $1,977—less than it would cost you to kit yourself out for a full set of new Pings in 2024. Gambling legend Titanic Thompson's full set—which he allegedly lost in a bet over who could throw a ball farther—went for $1,373.

An unrelated—but equally cool and quirky—artifact in the sale was a gold-plated wedge Ping made for Jeff Maggert after he holed out with his own Eye-2 to win the 1999 WGC-Anderson Consulting Match Play. Ping famously makes gold-plated putters representing every winner's wand. The gold wedge was a fun way to commemorate a different final shot falling. That club went for $1,829.