Masters of Golf: Art Wall


Autograph May 2009

Art Wall Jr.

Novemer 25, 1923 – October 31, 2001

1960 Sports Illustrated cover featuring a painting of Art Wall Jr. by Burton Silverman

1959 was a banner year for golfer Art Wall Jr. He was chosen PGA Player of the year, PGA Tour Money Leader and secured the Vardon Trophy. But his most significant achievement that year was winning the Masters. In the final round Wall birdied five of the last six holes to take the Green Jacket away from defending champion Arnold Palmer and Cary “Doc” Middlecoff.

Wall is also credited with sinking 45 holes-in-one in his lifetime, a world record for many years. While 1959 was his only Masters win, he continued playing the PGA tour well into his 70s. In his final tour win in the 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open, he beat Gary McCord by a stroke. Nearly 52 years old at the time of that win, Wall still ranks as the second-oldest golfer to win on the PGA Tour.

In 1979 Wall paired with Tommy Bolt in a senior tournament that resulted in a dramatic playoff against Julius Boros and Roberto De Vicenzo. The television ratings were strong enough to convince then-PGA Tour Commissioner to back the creation of a Senior PGA Tour—what is now called the Champions Tour.

Pro-Set card signed by Wall

When he retired in 1980, Wall had secured 14 PGA tournaments, four of them in 1959. Throughout the 1980s Wall remained active in golf on the senior tour. He died of heart failure in 2001 at the age of 77. His legendary run of five birdies in the 1959 Masters is the stuff of legend.

Wall signed in a very bold and compact hand. His signature evidences many loops and effortless flow. With poor letter construction and legibility that is marginal at best, the eye appeal of Wall’s signature is limited. Due to the sloppy nature of Wall’s hand, his signature is rather easy to replicate and many well executed forgeries have entered the market since his death, especially on golf balls. Wall’s hand remained strong his entire life and a genuine signature will exhibit no shakiness of hand—one that does should be considered suspect and avoided.

He was generally a good signer throughout his life, but starting in the late 1990s his signing habits became erratic and many mail requests were ignored. The supply of Wall material is ample but not common, and generally limited to index cards and 8×10 photos. Letters are uncommon and golf balls border on the scarce side. Wall was not a prolific letter writer, but he would, on occasion, pen a nice letter regarding his Masters win. These letters have excellent golf content and are highly prized. Wall’s is a signature where demand has proven to be much greater than supply.

A Art Wall signature showing many loops and poor letter construction

Wall material remains affordable but values have increased in recent years and will continue to do so. A signature sells for $25, and an 8×10 photo is currently valued at $100 as are handwritten letters. Signed golf balls are a minimum of $100.