The c. 1895 figure shows the Scottish golfer who invented the overlapping club grip. Still the most prevalent grip used today, it is often credited to Harry Vardon who learned about it from the Scot. Laidlay was the British Amateur Champion in 1888 and 1891, winning more than 130 amateur medals during his career. He is nicknamed ‘the last of the gentleman golfers’ and the bronze is estimated at Bonhams for $40,000-60,000.
It is one of the items from the Roberto Family Trust Golf Collection, which comprises more than 130 clubs, incorporating the spur irons of the 17th century to spoons and playclubs of the late 19th century.
The collection is estimated to take between $700,000 and $1m in total.
Par for the course
The auction is led by a left-handed, child’s or light spur toe iron, estimated at $75,000-100,000. It was made c. 1690 and is one of only eight such clubs known to exist. The shaft has been replaced and the toe iron lay overlooked in a box of tools for 50 years before being rediscovered.
Also on offer is the Duke of Atholl’s c. 1780 blacksmith-made heavy iron, which features an exceptionally large face, imposing hosel, and the original sheepskin grip inscribed in ink, ‘Heavy iron’. The club was the property of John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl (1755-1830), whose family seat was Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland. The Duke commanded the only private army in Europe, the Atholl Highlanders.
The auction takes place on March 29.