Signature Golf Balls #GolfCollecting

Why Signature Golf Balls?

Golf collecting includes many sub categories, such as, hickory shafted golf clubs, balls, books, tees, pencils, scorecards, ceramics, silver, art, programs, postcards, early golf magazines, and so many other categories. Signature golf ball collecting is one sub category of golf collecting, unlike many categories such as golf art, The Masters memorabilia, or golf antiques, the signature golf ball’s price range is very wide. With well over two thousand different signature golf balls made in the 20th century the diversity is wonderful and availability is high making it a fast growing hobby for many people. A recent online golf auction house sold a “Vardon Flyer” (the Harry Vardon signature ball) for $1298.35, and many other ball sell on eBay for only a few bucks, making the category attractive to many golf fans.

Collecting signature golf balls is more than just amassing sheer numbers of different balls, it gives the collector a starting point to explore the history of the game of golf. The signature golf ball has a history, the company who produced it, when it was in production, and the golfer who has their name on the ball. As you research the history of a single signature golf ball, you find not only, information on the player you also find out about how that golfer has influenced golf fans, golf equipment, and golf itself. You may even find a new favorite professional golfer.

The evolution of the golf ball can be seen through the history of signature golf balls. Featherie with the maker’s name marked on the leather of the late 1800s, the turn of the twentieth century gutty bramble patterned balls like the “Vardon Flyer.”

Vardon Flyer, photo by The Golf Auction

Great Lakes Golf Company made the mesh pattern Tommy Armour golf balls in 1930 and Worthington sold dimple pattern covers of vulcanized latex starting in 1934. The 1940s saw MacGregor producing the Byron Nelson signature golf ball and in the fifties, the Ben Hogan Brand was launched. The decade of peace, love, and harmony the sixties, with the invention of “DuPont Surlyn®,” ushered in the golf balls biggest leap since the gutty replaced the feather ball. The sixties could also be called “The Decade Signature Golf Ball” with players like Arnold palmer, Gary Player, Billy Casper, and Jack Nicklaus all having their names on millions of golf balls worldwide.

Slazenger B51 Fireball From Australia

With signature golf balls made around the world, with endorsements of golfers from many different countries, the international appeal of collecting them is far reaching. With today’s high speed internet access, the global interest adds to the enjoyment of collecting and commutating with fellow collectors around the world. I personally have collecting contacts in all fifty states, Canada, England, Scotland, The Isle of Man, and Australia, showing the global attractiveness of the signature golf ball.

Signature golf balls are not golf balls autographed by professional players, they are imprinted with the golfer’s name or logo.

Autograph Golf Ball
Signature Golf Ball

Categories of Signature Golf Balls

There are five main categories of Signature Golf Balls.

  1. Endorsement of Touring Pro
  2. Club Pros
  3. Certain Golf Ball Manufacturing Companies
  4. Celebrities
  5. Commemorative Golf Balls

 Endorsement of Touring Pro

Golf balls that were manufactured with the endorsement of touring professional golfers with the golfers name imprinted on the ball or in some cases, the packaging would have the players name and/or likeness printed on it.

Gary Player Signature by Shakespeare

 Club Pros

Many Club Pros played custom golf balls with their names imprinted on them. Often the Club Pros golf balls would also be sold in the pro shop. This category can be the most confusing for collector’s with only a name on the ball and not much other information it can be difficult to confirm the persons identity, even with today’s information super highway… The “Club Pro” category is not my strong suit and I would like to ask for help in doing a write up about this most challenging genre of signature golf ball collecting.

 Certain Golf Ball Manufacturing Companies

Some golf ball manufacturing companies golf balls are considered Signature Golf Balls mainly because of the roots of the company stem from a person with a great golf reputation. Such as Tommy Armour, Ben Hogan, Karsten Solheim of the Ping fame, and John Letters of Scotland.

A.E. Penfold England circa 1940 a

Celebrities

Celebrities, persons from sports other than golf, astronauts, and even presidents, vice presidents, and other politicians. Bob Hope, Michael Jordan, Alan Shepard and President Dwight D. Eisenhower with his wonderful Spalding Dot “General Ike” are some excellent examples of the category.

Dwight Eisenhower Spalding General Ike

Commemorative Golf Balls

Commemorative golf ball has often been produced to mark a special moment relating to golf or someone who has made significant contribution to the game.  Commemorative golf balls include the Dunlop 65, commemorating Henry Cottons second round 65 at the 1934 British Open, the Payne Stewart Memorial Golf Tournament golf balls, and the Spalding “Moon Ball,” commemorating Commander Alan Shepard hitting the “the first golf ball on the moon.” Titleist and Nike have, both, sold commemorative golf ball a set marking wins By Tiger Woods. Callaway had the Arnold Palmer 50th anniversary at the Masters Golf balls.

Arnold Palmer Calaway 50th Masters Set
-TheGolfBallGuy

GolfBallSelector.com

Jack Nicklaus beat’s his age at Augusta National

Jack Nicklaus current official PGA TOUR headshot (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) *** Local Caption *** Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus current official PGA TOUR headshot
(Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) *** Local Caption *** Jack Nicklaus

 

The 76-year-old Golden Bear tells The Naples Daily News he carries a U.S.G.A. handicap index of 5. After an even-par, 72 from the member tees at Augusta National Nicklaus added “I keep ruining my handicap,” he said. “I keep shooting good scores. … That’s going to take me down to a 1 or a 2. I was very upset. I’ll lose a lot of money on that.”

See even an 18 major winning golf has issues with his game…

-TheGolfBallGuy

 

Old Golf Ball of the Day

Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear golf balls by MacGregor from England, circa 1984.

Jack Nicklaus Goden Bear by MacGregor from the U.K. circa 1983 Jack Nicklaus Goden Bear by MacGregor from the U.K. circa 1983 (2)

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The Golden Bear over the Decades

In celebration of Jack Nicklaus’ 76th birthday, we will follow his lustrous career in golf balls. From the early 1960s Mr. Nicklaus’ name and “Golden Bear”, moniker has graced over 1500 different models of golf balls. Here are samples of those golf balls from each decade.

1960s Jack Nicklaus Champion by MacGregor circa 1963

 

1970s Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear MacGregor Brunswick

1970s Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear MacGregor Brunswick

1980s Jack Nicklaus Goden Bear by MacGregor circa 1983

1980s Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear by MacGregor circa 1983

1990s Jack Nicklaus Personal Maxfli HT 392-100

1990s Jack Nicklaus Personal Maxfli HT 392-100

2000s Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Dual Ti

2000s Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Dual Ti

2010s Jack Nicklaus Nicklaus Black by Nicklaus Golf circa 2014

2010s Jack Nicklaus Nicklaus Black by Nicklaus Golf circa 2014

Happy birthday Jack Nicklaus!

 

-TheGolfBallGuy

View more Jack Nicklaus signature golf balls at The Signature Golf Ball Collector’s Forum.

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Old Golf Ball of the Day December 31, 2015

The Ken Venturi Championship golf balls produced by United States Rubber, circa 1960.

Ken Venturi Championship by U.S. Rubber Circa 1960 (3)

Ken Venturi (May 15, 1931 – May 17, 2013) distinguished amateur golfer, professional golfer, and golf broadcaster. He won 14 tournaments on the PGA Tour including a major, the 1964 U.S. Open. Mr. Venturi was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.

While coached by Byron Nelson, Venturi won the California State Amateur Championship in 1951 and 1956. In the 1956 Masters, as an amateur, he finished one shot behind winner Jack Burke, Jr.

Ken Venturi Championship by U.S. Rubber Circa 1960 (2)

Venturi reached the highpoint of his career, winning the U.S. Open in 1964 at Congressional Country Club.  He nearly collapses from dehydration in the heat and humidity on the 36-hole final day. Venturi was named PGA Player of the Year and awarded Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Sportsman of the Year” that year.

With a total of 15 career wins in a career that lasted a mere 11 years, Venturi retired in 1967 and then spent 35 years as a one of the top color commentator in golf for CBS Sports. He retired from broadcasting in June 2002.

Ken Venturi Championship by U.S. Rubber Circa 1960 (1)

Ken Venturi’s Career Summary

Amateur wins1950 San Francisco City Amateur Championship

1951 California State Amateur Championship

1953 San Francisco City Amateur Championship

1956 California State Amateur Championship

1958 San Francisco City Amateur Championship

Professional wins

Aug 18, 1957      St. Paul Open Invitational

Aug 25, 1957      Miller High Life Open

Jan 26, 1958       Thunderbird Invitational

Feb 2, 1958         Phoenix Open Invitational

Mar 2, 1958        Baton Rouge Open Invitational

Aug 4, 1958         Gleneagles-Chicago Open Invitational

Jan 5, 1959          Los Angeles Open

Jun 28, 1959       Gleneagles-Chicago Open Invitational

Jan 24, 1960       Bing Crosby National Pro-Am

Aug 28, 1960      Milwaukee Open Invitational

Jun 20, 1964       U.S. Open

Jul 26, 1964         Insurance City Open Invitational

Aug 23, 1964      American Golf Classic

Jan 31, 1966       Lucky International Open

1959 Almaden Open

Old Golf Ball of the Day October 26, 2015

The Doug Ford sold by Sears, circa 1963.

Doug Ford Sears Tournament by Sears circa 1963

Doug Ford was born in West Haven, Connecticut on August 6, 1922. Ford turned professional in 1949 and won the first of his 19 PGA Tour victories  in 1952 at the Jacksonville Open.

PGA Tour wins (19)

  • 1952 Jacksonville Open
  • 1953 Virginia Beach Open
  • 1953 Labatt Open
  • 1953 Miami Open
  • 1954 Greater Greensboro Open
  • 1954 Fort Wayne Open
  • 1955 All American Open
  • 1955 Carling Golf Classic
  • 1955 PGA Championship
  • 1957 Los Angeles Open
  • 1957 Masters Tournament
  • 1957 Western Open
  • 1958 Pensacola Open Invitational
  • 1959 Canadian Open
  • 1960 500 Festival Open Invitation
  • 1961 500 Festival Open Invitation
  • 1962 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am
  • 1962 Eastern Open Invitational
  • 1963 Canadian Open

 

Golf Quote of the Day

You don’t hit anything on the backswing, so why rush it?

– Doug Ford

 

Old Golf Ball of the Day October 13, 2015

Tommy Armour Worthington Cured Cover circa 1939

The Worthington Ball Company of Elyria, Ohio started making golf balls in 1904 and produced golf balls with Tommy Armour’s name on them until the late 1960’s.

The Silver Scot, as Tommy Armour is known, won 25 PGA Tour events including three majors, despite losing sight in one eye from a WWI mustard gas attack.

Tommy Armour Worthington Cured Cover circa 1939
Tommy Armour Worthington Cured Cover circa 1939.

Golf Quote of the Day October 13, 2015

“It is not solely the capacity to make great shots that makes champions, but the essential quality of making very few bad shots.”

– Tommy Armour

Old Golf Balls of the Day October 6, 2015

The Real “General Ike” Golf Ball

It is well known that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was an avid golfer, so much so, that he had a practice green installed at the White House and he was a member of Augusta National. He received golf balls with many different monikers imprinted on them such as “Mr. President,” “D. D. Eisenhower,” and “Ike Eisenhower,” and according to the Eisenhower National Historic Site, his favorite was the Spalding Dot with “General Ike” inscribed on them.

The General Ike (1)
President Eisenhower’s personal used Spalding Dot Plus imprinted “General Ike,” circa 1962.
President Eisenhower’s personal used Spalding Dot Plus imprinted “General Ike,” circa 1962.
President Eisenhower’s personal used Spalding Dot Plus imprinted “General Ike,” circa 1962.

The Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Other Old Golf Ball of the Day

"General Ike" replica golf balls from the Gettysburg National Historic Site.
“General Ike” replica golf balls from the Gettysburg National Historic Site.