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Antique Golf Clubs from Scotland
Ralph Smith
Charles Ralph Smith was born in Quebec but came to Elie at a young age. A year so younger than James Braid, he became his best friend (and ultimately best man at Braid’s wedding). He learned his clubmaking skills, as many great makers did, from George Forrester in Elie to whom he was apprenticed.

He began his career as a pro at the Beverley club in East Yorkshire in 1891. After this, he came south again to take charge at the Army and Navy clubmaking shop in London. In 1893 he was back home in Scotland for a holiday and bumped into James Braid in Princes Street in Edinburgh and offered him a job clubmaking in London, upping his Elie pay as a joiner from 6 pence an hour to 8. The offer was accepted and the two travelled to London together and shared digs in Sydenham.

Smith left full-time clubmaking to take up a position as professional in Kent at the Hastings club in 1896 (with Braid briefly as his assistant). At the turn of the century he moved to the West Middlesex Golf Club where he served until 1921. He then emigrated to the US and became pro at the Denver Country Club in Colorado, taking over after the death of Walter Clark. ‘His advent’, reported the Spalding Golf Annual for 1922, ‘was the inspiration for a number of matches, most of them for purses, and Smith has yet to lose’. He remained at the Country Club until 1927 then moved east to be professional at the Canoe Brook CC in Summit, NJ. At some point he returned to Hastings where he died in 1953.

His anti-shank lofting iron with inset hosel is particularly collectable.

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