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Alan Shepard famously hit two golf balls on the moon. He sneaked the modified head of a Wilson 6-iron golf club on board in a sock, and attached it to the handle of a lunar sample scoop. After hitting two balls, he returned the club head in his spacesuit. The original is on display at the USGA Golf Museum, and a replica is at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Given that the Smithsonian usually gets priority over space artifacts, why did they get the copy in this case?

As usual, please support your answer with sources, rather than speculating.

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Claire Brown, communications director of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, was asked the same question.

“The reason that it’s not in this museum was that it was personal property of Alan Shepherd. In other words, he took it to space, he brought it back, it was still his personal property he donated it and it was his. That’s the reason,” said Claire Brown, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s communications director.

“Things were a little different back then. You could take a certain amount of personal property. There are different rules now, but at the time that he did it, he was able to bring his own personal club.”

At first glance, it seems a bit odd that the club could be considered "personal property" since the shaft was actually a contingency sample extension handle. But as Shepard explained, "That [contingency sample extension handle] was already up there to be thrown away."

In 1972, Bing Crosby — who had played golf with Shepard, and happened to be a board member of the USGA Golf Museum — wrote Shepard asking if he would be willing to donate the club. He agreed, and he presented it to the museum in 1974.

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