What mementos do you keep?
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I've never collected anything special from a particular shot or event (except for a few trophies when I was younger). I have played some very memorable golf courses, most of which will provide you with logo towels and/or divot tools. I also will buy a hat or shirt from courses I really enjoyed. I always use these items--I've never understood the logic of putting a shirt, hat, or towel in the closet or on the shelf because it's a "memento".
The only "special" items I have are a ball mark I've been using for nearly 15 years (a Sacajawea dollar coin I got out of a stamp machine on my way to a round at the Air Force Academy in 2000) and a divot tool from Cabo del Sol that I've been using for about ten years. I'm not sure why those items became special; I guess after a while I had just used them for so long that it didn't make sense to use anything else. The divot tool is especially odd, since at a time I had a few dozen from different courses in the bag, and I don't even like Cabo del Sol (got really bad service there the last two times I played it).
I have three items that I will never sell and that I value greatly.
First was when I was in a junk shop in the south of England - I came across a very rusty hickory club that I bought for £10 (about 15 US$). I collected them, and this one was interesting - it had an old lambswool grip, no marks on the face of the club and had a long shaft. A driving iron of some sort. I soaked the head of the club in vinegar for two days and very lightly scoured it to remove the rust. Once it was clean, it revealed an oval stamp on the back which said 'T. Morris - St. Andrews'. I had it valued, worth only about three hundred $ but it was a real thrill to have a club that was dated to have been made around the 1890's.
Second thing I have was when my wife paid for me to go to the Masters for my 50th birthday in 2011. She organised the tix through a company in the South (Broach Sports Tours), and I got a pass for the Saturday and Sunday. Now, I've been watching the Masters since I was a kid on the BBC, so I was, as you say in the US, totally wired during my stay. I got on the plane to Atlanta gushing about the Masters and never stopped frankly. I got to Augusta on the Thursday and stayed at the Marriott and got talking to some people in the bar. We must have talked about golf for hours, spoke about many things, mainly about courses. These people were from up north but seemed to know an awful lot of players and officials. We parted and I did not see them until the Sunday night after Schwatzl had won. I hadn't really watched the tournament, I just spent my time looking at the course, at all those holes I had thought I knew but really had no idea (you can't even see the 15th green from the fairway - it's so skinny it looks like landing the ball on a band-aid. It's why people aim for the bunker on the right as a bail out target). I saw them, had a chat, told them how I wished the Masters was on every day and how much I wanted to come back. One of the guys asked me to wait at the bar because he had something for me. He went to his room, came back and gave me the actual yardage book that players and members get - not one of these Strokesaver books, an actual players item. It was in Metric (Augusta produce both imperial and metric yardage books for members and players) and it was amazingly detailed. He told me to keep it safe and not show it to anyone as if an Augusta member saw it, they would be pretty pissed. No idea how he got it, but when I got home, I watched the tapes of the play and sure enough, when I saw caddies giving yardages, there was the self-same book. It's now framed, along with a set of Bobby Jones Wilson Irons I found.
Third thing is a photograph of a girl I took to a golf tournament in Cornwall, at St Mellion. Course was shit, tournament was so-so, but the chick...never forget her.
I've saved 9 balls since 1971 for shots or rounds I wanted to remember. Finally bought a clear plastic display case for them and printed out a little 'showcard' that tells the year, course, hole number and result for each one. Is really great to sit back and remember the story behind each of those golf balls.
The book - this is the 2011 version so it's probably out of date now as far as features, greens, teebox, locations. Pretty neat though. I'd like to show the insides, but the contents are copyrighted to the Augusta National and knowing how insane they are, the Sandtrap would probably get an injunction or some crap.
This thread reminds me of a very funny story. Three years ago we were playing at Man O'War in Myrtle Beach. I had about a 50 yard shot in that I drained for my first birdie ever. I grab the ball and thought, I'm going to keep this one since that was my first birdie. Two holes later my father in law hit his drive into the water, he walked over to the cart to grab another ball. He then proceeded to hook that one into the water also. When we got back in the cart I realized that second ball in the water was my memento ball. That's the only thing I've ever kept and I didn't have it long lol.
I create a small scrapbook for each major golf trip (Pebble Beach/Spyglass, SW Ireland, Pinehurst, Scotland, etc...). In the book is a written narrative about the trip's highlights as well as photos, scorecards, course guides, etc... I also have a general golf scrapbook where I have kept the first scorecard from every course where I shot under 80 along with photos and other small items I have picked up along the way. It is fun to haul them out in the middle of winter and remember the past trips and events.
I held onto my first eagle ball, for approximately 4 minutes ... before slicing it OB into the woods.
On No. 10 at Greystone Golf Course, a little north of Baltimore, a pulled a drive that actually ended up in the 18th fairway, about 220 with a clear shot at the green. Hit a 3-wood that was hit well, but a little left, before kicking right off a mound and rolling to about 4 feet. I had been playing around 6-8 years at that point, and was never so nervous over a putt. Luckily, I managed to make it, and was all smiles heading to No. 11, where I had honors and sliced badly.
"Hope that wasn't your eagle ball," someone said. But it had never even occurred to me to put it away.
I've had a few more since then, but haven't held onto the balls. Still waiting for Hole-in-One No. 1 for that!