Golf Balls Once Came In Different Sizes
Spalding’s Official Golf Guide for 1914 offers some interesting insight into the state of golf equipment in the early 20th century. Spalding sold a line of gutta percha golf balls that featured combinations of three sizes, four weights and two dimple patterns.
Different size and weight combinations were recommended for players based on skill, course and performance expectations. A large, heavy ball, for example, was recommended for distance players who face hard turf and windy conditions. A medium light was recommended for holding greens.
It was not until 1932 that the USGA specified that golf balls would have a maximum allowed weight at 1.62 ounces and a minimum size of 1.68 inches.
It strikes me that different sizes and weights were the period’s equivalent of today’s balls, which vary according to number of layers, core size, materials, dimple pattern and so forth. Different balls today are advertised as having distinct playing characteristics, just as Spalding offered.
In effect, very little has changed. Manufacturers are still working to offer golfers equipment suited to their game.
I think it would be interesting to know what Ouimet, Vardon and Ray played in the legendary 1913 US Open.
Edited by Tom Bendelow (the golf architect), the Spalding Golf Guide is an interesting document. It is at once both a record book of the game in 1914 and a catalog for Spalding products. Much of the book consists of lists of the winners of various championships in the preceding year (1913). For example, Michigan’s amateur champion in 1913 was Phil Stanton of Grand Rapids, who defeated Arthur H Vincent of Saginaw one-up. The book also contains records of club champions (Saginaw Country Club’s was E. C. Kansler), lists of USGA affiliate clubs, historical records, various regional and city reports (such as from the Western Golf Association), and so on.
Below is the text of the guide’s pages describing Spalding’s golf ball offerings:
When it comes to tell the history of golf balls, so far as concerns the United States, the future historian will have to give a pretty large place to the work that has been done by A. G. Spalding &
Bros, in turning out golf balls that are really right. The expense and trouble that they have gone to in their endeavor to make up a ball for the player that would be recognized as the finest on the
market is wonderful, and, as a matter of fact, would have been out of the reach of any other manufacturer not possessing the unequaled facilities that the Messrs. Spalding Bros.’ concern has, owing to their thirty years’ experience in turning out athletic equipment of every description.
Many golf players do not realize just what has been done for them in turning out a satisfactory style of ball. All gutta-percha used in golf balls comes from the Malay Peninsula, and money, as is well known, will buy almost anything. A. G. Spalding & Bros., in their endeavor to buy the most satisfactory grade of gutta-percha, secured the co-operation and services of the greatest gutta-percha agent in the old country to buy their crude gutta-percha for them.
They gave a carte blanche order to a firm in England to buy for them all of the latest machinery used in cleaning gutta-percha for the manufacture of golf balls, and hired the services of an expert to set it up and see that all details of manufacture were properly attended to.
For the season of 1914, A. G. Spalding & Bros, offer the golfing public a variety of balls so comprehensive that they feel certain it is one which will not only satisfy the taste of the most discriminating and critical golfer, but will cover every variation of weather and turf conditions. This matter has been the subject of the most careful study and has been elaborated upon to an extent never before attempted by any golf ball manufacturer.
In a condensed form the Spalding golf ball line will consist of three sizes: large, medium and small ; four weights: heavy, medium, light and very light ; two markings: “Bramble” and “Dimple”, and two prices. Red Dots, $6.00 per dozen ; Green Dots, ,$6.00 per dozen ; all Brambles and Dimples, $7.50 per dozen. A tabulated list of balls and recommendations to assist the golfer in making his selection is appended :
Large size balls: Red Dot, light, floating, $6.00 per dozen ; Green Dots, heavy, $6.00 per dozen ; Glory Bramble, light, floating. $7.50 per dozen ; Glory Dimple, light, floating, $7.50 per dozen ; Domino Dimple, heavy, $7.50 per dozen.
Medium size balls: Domino Bramble, heavy, $7.50 per dozen ; Domino Dimple, heavy, $7.50 per dozen ; Domino Dimple, very light, floating, $7.50 per dozen.
Small size balls: Baby Bramble, medium weight, $7.50 per dozen ; Baby Dimple, medium weight, $7.50 per dozen ; Midget Bramble, heavy weight, $7.50 per dozen ; Midget Dimple, heavy weight, $7.50 per dozen.
RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING GOLF BALLS.
Large Size Balls. Light: For moderate hitters, soft turf conditions, water holes. Heavy: For distance players and long roll, hard turf, use in wind, steadiness on green.
Medium Size Balls. Heavy: For long distance, use in wind, fairly hard turf conditions, and for the player who wishes to combine the advantages of both extremes in sizes”. Light: For ladies and light hitters generally, water holes, and the accurate holding of greens or short holes.
Small Size Balls. Medium: For the average distance man who prefers this size ball, good in wind and on almost any turf. Heavy: For extreme distance in carry and roll, and for long players particularly, excellent in heavy wind and on smooth hard courses.
The Red Dot golf ball is too well known to need any introduction. For the past six years it has been considered the standard golf ball of the world. The Glory Dimple is emphatically the ball with which moderate results can be most easily obtained. The heavier balls, namely the Domino Dimple, Domino Bramble, Witch, Baby Bramble, Baby Dimple, Midget Bramble and Midget Dimple are the result of the never satisfied demand of the golfer for more distance and a steadier ball upon the green, both of which virtues will be found in any of these balls. As these balls will be made in both the Bramble and Dimple markings the preference of each individual golfer will be met.
The small size ball, in spite of its extreme popularity, is not a ball with which every player can obtain the best results, chiefly because it exaggerates the diflaculty of a cuppy lie or a shot from the
rough. In order to attain as much distance as possible, and at the same time produce a ball which will not be too difficult for the players of reasonable skill, Spalding’s are introducing the medium size ball. This ball they confidently recommend and believe it will be found by a large majority of golfers to be the one which has long been sought. The Green Dot Ball is to meet the growing demand for a heavy ball to sell for $6.00 per dozen.
The article Golf Balls Once Came In Different Sizes first appeared on GolfBlogger.Com on January 9, 2018.