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    Important John F. Kennedy Personally Owned and Used Golf Bag, with Impeccable Provenance. Few relics of this beloved president could have a more personal association than this wonderful item. Kennedy loved golf, and was quite good at it. In his book about presidential golfers, First Off the Tee, Don Van Natta Jr., writes: "Despite a bad back, Kennedy possessed a graceful, effortless swing, which allowed him to easily rank as the best player among the fourteen presidential golfers...(But) as he ran for president in 1960, Kennedy was actually aware that some Americans had become disenchanted with Dwight D. Eisenhower's methodical devotion to golf. Kennedy was almost maniacal about his refusal to allow photographers snap his picture while holding a putter or driver."

    "Shortly before the 1960 Democratic Convention, Kennedy nearly shot a hole-in-one at a California golf course. While aide 'Red' Fay, Jr. yelled 'Go In! Go In!' the ball stopped six inches short of the hole. JFK looked stricken with terror! He yelled at Fay, 'You're yelling for that damn ball to go in and I'm watching a promising political career coming to an end. If that ball had gone into that hole, in less than an hour the word would be out to the nation that another golfer was trying to get into the White House.'" (First Off the Tee, New York: PublicAffairs, 2003, page 15). Van Natta goes on to write, "...no one looked more comfortable and relaxed on the course than John F. Kennedy. It was not an act; he was relaxed because he knew he could play. Kennedy glided from hole to hole, making impossible shots look easy, flashing that winning smile..."

    "When he became president, he practiced in secret on the White House grounds during foggy early mornings, and White House security aide 'Muggsy' O'Leary shagged balls. When Kennedy could escape the photographers he would sneak off to indulge in his love of the game. During one of these excursions he played with Gov. Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut, who was rumored to be a probable cabinet appointment. Ribicoff, quite a duffer himself, out shot the President for nine holes, 38 to 42. However, he graciously reported that Kennedy had bested him. When word got back to JFK, he sent a playful telegram to Ribicoff: 'President deeply disturbed at report of your golf score, insists that anyone connection with his administration be clean as a hound's tooth. Write if you get work.' A few weeks later Ribicoff was nominated as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare." (page 40).

    The golf bag offered here, unlike another sold with a set of clubs at auction for a high six-figure price several years ago, shows years of loving use. The tan canvas is soiled, the leather trim appropriately worn. The documentation for the bag is impeccable: It was given to Mary Barelli Gallagher by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House in June of 1963, when she was doing some spirited "spring cleaning." The bag had been in storage for several years, so was doubtless used by Kennedy during his senatorial years. Gallagher served as JFK's personal secretary from 1953 to 1956, and as Mrs. Kennedy's from 1956-1964. In 1969, she published My Life with Jacqueline Kennedy (New York: D. McKay Co.)

    Accompanying the bag is a detailed 2001 letter of authentication and provenance from Gallagher, as well as a photo of her transporting the golf bag and a pair of Kennedy's crutches from the South Portico of the White House to her car on that spring day in 1963. It measures 34.5" in height, and is in excellent condition save for the desirable, even wear described above. It was originally sold by Fred Haas and Associates, Chicago, whose brass logo is affixed. Just a wonderful and personal JFK artifact.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2006
    7th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,091

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