The art of the golf game

PHILADELPHIA - June 2, 2013

You may consider golf a sport but the Art Museum is also looking at the art of the game with paintings, old style golf balls, clubs and clothing. The items come to the Museum from the birthplace of golf….the links of St. Andrews in Scotland.

The exhibit is called The Art of Golf and the centerpiece is "the Golfers," a mid 19thcentury work by Scottish painter Charles Lees that depicts a memorable match at St. Andrews.

Jenny Thompson, Curator, Philadelphia Museum of Art said, "It really is a moment that we can start to a kind of sense of the modern celebrity of players start to begin. But one of the great ironies of it is that we don't actually know who wins. Just like the spectators are sort of poised watching it, we too are left in suspense. "

You can learn about the evolution of the golf ball. This was known as a feathery ball, and it was used from about 1600 to 1850.

"There actually are a couple of pieces of leather stitched together and they would take a gentleman's top hat and fill it with goose or chicken feathers. Those feather would then all be pushed and crammed into the leather ball," added Thompson.

The leather ball in the exhibit was actually made by one of the golfers in The Golfers painting! He was one of the world's first professional golfers and an expert feathery ball maker. There's also antique Scottish clubs made from ram's horn, leather and wood, colorful Victorian attire and an old golf trophy.

"It was used by the royal and ancient golf club for about 80 years, and it was an annual competition the winner of the competition was required to place a silver ball onto the club each year," said Thompson.

The Art of Golf exhibition runs through July 7th. For tickets, go to Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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