Cover image for The story of the golf ball
The story of the golf ball
McGimpsey, Kevin W.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., 2003.
Physical Description:
x, 278 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 22 x 31 cm
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV976 .M4 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



This book is about the golf ball and how it has affected the game, especially club development and the rules. From the feather ball era in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the gutty ball era of the 1850s to the rubber-cored (modern) ball era this book literally takes you "inside" the ball with fascinating details of all aspects of the golf ball. It covers the development of rules pertaining to weight and size--details that were contested in America and Britain for nearly 50 years, and how ball makers sought to make the ball travel further, move straighter and stand up to the most punishing strokes.

Until 1920 there was no size or weight restrictions to the ball. Thereafter maufacturors had to conform to the specifications, otherwise the ball was deemed illegal. The American and British golfing authorities could not agree on dimensions so for nearly 50 years there were 2 'legal' balls played either side of the Atlantic.

Ball makers have long sought to make the ball travel further, move straighter and to provide protection to the ball from poorly executed shots. This book shows how manfucaturing techniques have evolved from stuffing feathers into a leather sack in the seventeenth century to hydraulic presses and spraying booths in the early twentieth century. The balls' cover patterns were designed to improve their flight characteristics and these ranged from stars, diamonds and pimples to the round dimple (today's standard) that was patented in the early twentieth century.

The author has made extensive use of the data recorded at the many golf memorabilia sales since the early 1980s. He also records many of the prices paid at auction for golf balls.

Author Notes

Kevin McGimpsey is a lifelong golf enthusiast who has caddied at the Masters and the Open and has been collecting golfing memorabilia since the early 1990s. He writes regular articles on golf antiques in Golf International magazine.

Table of Contents

The Feather Golf Ball Period 1450 to the 1880s
The Gutta -Percha and Gutty Ball Period 1846 to the Early 1900s
Named Gutta and Gutty balls and their Characteristics
The Evolution of the Rubber Core Ball 1871 to 1918
Named Rubber Core Balls and their Characteristics 1898 to 1970
Continuing the Story of the Rubber Core Ball from 1919
Rubber Core Manufacturing Techniques
Golf Ball Cover Patterns
Un-attributed Gutty and Rubber Core Golf Balls
Appendix 1 An Index of Balls by Name and Manufacturer
Appendix 2 A list of feather golf ball makers
Appendix 3 A list of golf ball manufacturers, agents and retailers
Appendix 4 The Post War years up to 2003
Appendix 5 Bibliography
Appendix 6 Auction Houses Museums and Collectors' Societies