Lot # 8: Incredible Matching 12 Club Set of Tom Stewart RTJ Irons

Category: Vintage Golf Clubs

Starting Bid: $500.00

Bids: 31 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2024 Golf Clubs Only",
which ran from 1/24/2024 5:00 PM to
2/4/2024 8:00 PM

Offered here is one of the finest known collectible golf clubs sets in existence. This is a simply unimprovable matching 12 club set of Tom Stewart "RTJ" irons. 

For many, the RTJ irons are an almost mythical set that you have read about, but have seen. This is one the most important sets of 20th century golf clubs: the infamous Tom Stewart Personal Model Bobby Jones RTJ irons. Tom Stewart of St Andrews was the clubmaker for Bobby Jones, and he infamously produced two unauthorized sets of golf clubs based on Bobby Jones' Grand Slam set. Those sets were marked either "RTJ" (for Robert T. Jones) or FO/RTJ (Francis Ouimet/Robert T Jones).

The full story of these controversial irons is described in great detail in the famous golf club book The Clubmaker’s Art by Jeff Ellis:

“In 1929 Bobby Jones’s personal set of clubs was stolen from the trunk of his car, but returned to him shortly afterwards. Following this experience...Jones ordered a “backup” set of irons from [Tom] Stewart [in St. Andrews]. Jones, the consummate amateur, authorized Stewart to produce only a single set of irons. However, Stewart, the opportunistic businessman, did not stop production after fulfilling Jones’s request. Clearly aware that Jones was at the top of the golf world, Stewart began to reproduce the clubs he made for Jones. These clubs were marked with Jones’s initials “RTJ” in block letters on the toe… These personal models were made in 1930, and possibly briefly in 1931.” [Page 143, The Clubmaker’s Art (2nd Ed. 2007) by Jefferey B. Ellis]

Ellis goes on to quote a 1970 letter from Bobby Jones himself where Jones responds to someone asking about one of these controversial “RTJ” Tom Stewart irons. Here is Bobby Jones’s response: “I doubt very much that the club you mention was ever in my bag. I had Tom Stewart forge some heads under my supervision and he took advantage of the situation by offering clubs for sale with RTJ stamped on them.”

As legend has it, Tom Stewart made a very small number of these irons and would only send a handful to accounts who were paid in full and placed a healthy order of his other clubs. In his book, golf club historian Jeff Ellis then opines that this theory makes sense since only a “few remaining sets” are known.

Offered today is one of those few remaining sets. But not just any set, this is an unimprovable set consists of 12 matching irons. These clubs were famously made to the exact specifications of the Tom Stewart irons used by Bobby Jones to win the Grand Slam in 1930.

The irons bear all of Tom Stewart's hallmarks, including the trademark stamps and his famous pipe insignia, but also the single "punch dot" which signifies that Tom Stewart himself (and not one of his employees) finished these clubs. The are also all stamped with W. Yeoman Chicago - the Chicago retailer where these clubs were shipped circa 1930. 

The is the largest, most complete, original matched set of RTJ irons in existence. Excellent condition. 

The matching 13 clubs in this set: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, Diving Mashie, Cleek, Mashie Iron, and Putter. 

This RTJ set of irons originates from the collection of Bobby Jones historian and author Sid Matthew.