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.”
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.
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.
Categories of Signature Golf Balls
There are five main categories of Signature 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.
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.
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.
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.