The worlds of sport, history and art collide in Delray Beach during the much-anticipated "Seagate Hotel & Spa World of Golf: The Gary Wiren Golf Collection" exhibit. Considered one of the finest private collection of golf memorabilia on the planet, Dr. Gary Wiren, a PGA of America Master Professional and PGA Hall of Famer, lets the public in on a passion that has en-golfed his life since 1958.
The collection on display at the Cornell Museum at Old School Sqaure in Delray Beach is only five-percent of Wiren’s total collection. “If I bought anything else I would have to sneak it into the house,” quipped Wiren on his expansive collection, which has slowly encroached on his home.
On display are pieces of golf history that could very well be the last of their kind. An impressive array of clubs, from concept putters, wedges, drivers and everything in-between, as well as historical pieces that have been in the hands of some of the greatest who ever played the game, partition the museum floor, allowing visitors to see the evolution of irons and woods as they peruse the racks of clubs. Want the golf grip of a legend? On a pedestal standing among the clubs sit four grips molded by golf legends Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller (U.S. Open 1973, British Open ‘76), Kathy Whitworth (winningest LPGA golfer, six-major championships) and local golfer Don Finsterwald (PGA Championship ’58, first pro at Tequesta Country Club), giving visitors a chance to mimic the grips of champions.
The collection goes well beyond just clubs and hardware. Pieces of the Wiren collection mark some of the most important and interesting moments in the history of golf. The exhibit chronicles books, magazines, postcards, letters, works of art, sheet music and even a collection of early golf apparel, noting the transition golf has made from a stick and ball walking game in Scotland to one of America’s favorite, and most frustrating, pastimes. Particularly interesting is Wiren’s collection of golf balls. The collection marks the humble beginnings when balls were made of leather, crammed with goose feathers (about a top-hat full). The price was astronomical for one of these balls (sometimes more than the club itself) and many of the craftsmen contracted consumption from breathing in the vapors of the boiling feathers. The ‘feathery’ was replaced by the first mass produced ball in 1848, which brought costs down and helped spread the popularity of the game. The gutta-percha (tropical tree from southeast Asia, the gum was used to create the ball) ball interestingly enough resembles the balls being made today, in that it has a solid core. The Haskell followed these, which were made with tightly wound rubber bands in the center with a dimpled cover.
Gary Wiren’s golf collection gives visitors a greater appreciation of the game that has come to dominate South Florida. And for those who are not necessarily fans of the game, the exhibit fosters a better understanding on why golf recruits so many loyal followers.
In connection with the "Gary Wiren Golf COllection," Old School Sqaure will also have on exhibit the "Academy of Golf Art." This collection of oils, watercolors and acrylics depict some of the most recognizable golf courses in the world with striking and vivid precision.
"The Seagate Hotel & Spa World of Golf: The Gary Wiren Golf Collection" will run from November 9 through April 21, along with Fine Art from the Academy of Golf Art. Also on exhibit: Palm Beach Watercolor Society Annual Showcase, through January 13, 2013.
51 N. Swinton Ave.
Delray Beach, FL 33444