Golf Memorabilia Fuels Churchill Collector's Fire

By Donovan, Sandra Fischione | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

Golf Memorabilia Fuels Churchill Collector's Fire


Donovan, Sandra Fischione, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


You might say Jim Senkewitz has a drive for golf.

The Churchill man, who has played golf for more than 50 years, plans to volunteer as marshal at the 17th hole at the U.S. Women's Open Monday through July 11 at Oakmont Country Club. But his duties as marshal are just the most recent evidence of his sporting passion. When he's not golfing or watching professional contests, his mind is constantly on the game, and the proof is in the hundreds -- possibly thousands -- of golfing mementoes in his enormous collection.

The gameroom of the home he shares with his tolerant wife, Donna, is crammed with golf collectibles: scores of drinking glasses engraved with the names of dozens of country clubs; dozens of antique golf clubs and golf trophies; baskets filled with hundreds of golf balls; and innumerable books, pictures, posters, postcards and stamps devoted to golf.

"The neighborhood kids come over and want to know if I won all these trophies," says Senkewitz, 64, of the silver loving cups and engraved glass plates. The answer is no.

Of the posters, the largest features an audio button and the voice of actor John O'Hurley, encouraging the passerby to enter a $10 million Putt & Win sweepstakes. O'Hurley, the host of "Family Feud," has been the voice of Coors Light beer for years.

"I saw this in a beer distributor -- my niece's boyfriend worked there," Senkewitz says. The poster is not his only audio golf collectible; Senkewitz also owns a Bob Hope Christmas ornament that says, "Hi, I'm Bob Hope, the star for your Christmas tree." It's one of many golf ornaments Senkewitz uses to decorate the family tree at Christmas.

Other golf collectors may restrict themselves to one kind of collectible. Not so Senkewitz. His is a fervent love of all things golf.

"I joined a postcard club so I could trade postcards" to obtain golf-related ones. Postage stamps that depict golf? He has those, too. Senkewitz even joined a matchbook collectors club to gain information and golf-club matchbooks, serving for a time as president.

The golf collection includes three-dimensional golfing figures, such as golfing Disney characters and a golfing frog.

"A friend brought back the golfing frog from Mexico," he says. The figure was once a real amphibian, now coated with a clear preservative.

Even the room furnishings reflect his love of the game. A lamp base is in the shape of a golf bag; the shade is in the shape of a red-and-white golf umbrella. A throw pillow has an embroidered inscription: "Golf is not a matter of life and death -- it's much more important than that."

Senkewitz calls the area behind the gameroom bar "the smoking section." Here he has displayed golf-related ashtrays and cigarette lighters. The bar includes golf whiskey decanters and salt-and- pepper shakers in the shape of golf bags and clubs. He even has several golf-related Avon bottles.

"It takes a big man to collect Avon bottles," he says with a smile. Senkewitz also gladly breaches gender lines with golf- related charm bracelets, wooden boxes with golfing female paper dolls and engraved spoons. …

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