A fine example of this famous centre shafted alloy head putter originally designed by Mr A.F. Knight of Schenectady, New York and launched in 1903. This club is in original condition and could still be used for play or would make a superb display model or a superb gift (birthday or retirement) for the golf enthusiast. The length is 35” (89cm).
The head is stamped H.C. Lee, New York. He ran a very successful sports outfit business mainly concentrating on the sale of golf equipment. The rear of the head is stamped ‘Schenectady Putter. Pat Mar 24 1903.
Alloy putters are normally found with badly scarred heads but as the images show this club remains in fairly good condition. There are two small stone dint marks along the bottom edge of the sole.
The shaft is straight and tight to the hosel.
Mr A.F. Knight who was the inventor of this famous putter started to play golf in 1896 and rapidly rose to prominence as the best player at the Mohawk Golf Club, Schenectady, New York. He soon realized that his progress was being hindered by poor putting on the greens and set about designing a style of putter that would help improve his game.
His first designs used persimmon wood heads but after testing these early versions he decided to replace the wooden head with an alloy head fitted to a hickory shaft. Although he was pleased with the result he wanted a top golfer to test the club and the opportunity arose when the 1901 U.S Amateur Champion Walter Travis took on the challenge. By 1903 Travis won the U.S. Amateur Championship for a third time using the Schenectady putter and in 1904 he won the British Amateur Championship at the famous Royal St. George course, Sandwich, Kent.
By now this new style putter was well established and Mr Knight was the beneficiary of many orders but was unaware that his new invention would stir up a major controversy between the R & A and the USGA. When Travis won the British Amateur Championship the R & A deemed that the style of putter offered an unfair advantage and by 1910 they banned all centre shafted putters from being used in U.K. tournaments and although the USGA refused to acknowledge the ban it was not until 1951 before the R & A lifted the ban. During the 41 year ban all American golfers playing in British tournaments had to use non centre shafted putters.
A.G.Spalding & Bros were founded in 1876 by Albert Spalding who was a baseball player and managed the Chicago White Stockings. Spalding’s were known for their baseballs and basketballs before branching into the manufacture of golf clubs in America during the mid 1890’s. They arrived in Britain at the turn of the century spending large amounts of money on both opening retail outlets throughout the country and two manufacturing plants , firstly in London in 1910 followed by Dysart, Fife, Scotland in 1915. The retail shops sold general sports goods including tennis and exercise equipment.
Many iron heads showing the ‘hammer’ cleek mark and stamped ‘hammer forged’ were produced at the London factory and sold to professionals throughout the country for club making. Heads produced at the Dysart factory are stamped with the ‘tong’ cleek mark and another mark often used is the ‘anvil’.
Spalding’s are also famous for their golf balls. In 1898 they signed a contract with Harry Vardon the British Open Champion to endorse their gutta percha ball called the ‘Vardon Flyer’. It paid off because in 1900 he won the US Open and then toured the country promoting the ball. However the success was short lived because the rubber wound ball was gaining popularity. They went to develop numerous well known balls such as The Gold Medal, The Wizard and their Top Flite brand.
They enjoyed great success with their Kro-Flite matching irons and woods in the late 1920’s producing vast quantities as well as other models such as the Thistle,Dundee, and Firebrand.