Are Golf Balls Worth Anything?
For golfers, collecting golf balls can be a popular way of continuing your love for the game even when you’re not on the golf course. If you’re thinking of starting your own collection you may be wondering how best to go about it and what it might cost.
Let’s go to look at the different types of collectible golf balls.
Logo Golf Balls
Golf balls are often used as promotional items both by golf businesses and other organizations. It’s a relatively inexpensive way of publicizing your company or event.
These days every pro shop you walk into will probably have a golf ball bearing the golf club logo. Every golf tournament will produce balls to commemorate that year’s event. Most golfing organizations will purchase balls for promotional purposes.
For example, my local county golf union used to supply Titleists featuring the county logo to players representing the county in matches.
It’s very easy therefore to come across a huge number of logoed golf balls.
This means for the most part that they tend to be one of the cheaper ways of starting a golf ball collection.
Every time you visit a new golf course you should be able to purchase a sleeve of Titleist balls bearing the club crest. If you are lucky enough to attend golf days as part of your business there’s a good chance you’ll be given some golf balls on the first tee. The company sponsoring the event will want you to remember who’s paying for your golf.
if you are looking for a cheap way of getting into collecting golf memorabilia then logoed balls is one of the cheapest options. You might find logo overrun balls available for a significant discount with certain retailers to get you started.
Autographed Golf Balls
A golf ball with an autograph can quite often be worth a significant sum of money. If you have a ball with a big-name autograph and some provenance that attaches it to an important golfing event then you could be on to a winner.
The most expensive autographed ball sold at auction featured the signature of Bobby Jones. The winning bidder paid $55,865!
Vintage Golf Balls
If you’re for the most expensive golf balls then they can often be found in the vintage category. There are three old types of balls from golf history for you to consider:
These were the most popular types of golf balls up until around 1850. Made by stuffing brine-soaked feathers into a leather pouch they were very expensive and difficult to produce. At an auction, these can command a hefty price tag.
This was just one of the reasons why golf was generally the preserve of the wealthiest individuals.
Given their methods of construction, it’s no surprise that relatively few examples have survived to this day. Their rarity makes them valuable. Even more so if they were made by one of the well-known ball manufacturers of their day such as Gourlay and McEwan.
A feathery made by Lang Willie Robinson fetched £28, 200 at a Christie’s auction in July 2000. That’s $32,714 at today’s exchange rate.
Balls made from gutta percha ruled for the second half of the 19th century. Significantly more durable than a feathery and easier to make because the process could be mechanized these balls began to bring the game of golf into the reach of the poorer classes.
Collectors of these balls will be looking at the condition, age and type of pattern printed on the ball. The surface of the balls began to be marked with a variety of different grooves, dimples or pimples because it was realized the that the balls would fly further and straighter than a smooth ball would.
One of the classic patterns is the “bramble”.
In May 2012, a guttie made by Allan Robertson was sold by Christie’s for £18,750 ($21,751).
These balls quickly took over from gutties at the start of the 20th century.
The earliest balls were so varied in size and weight that you could spend a lot of time just trying to work out which balls to go after. A large number of patents were registered for golf balls featuring cores made of substances as varied as honey, compressed air and even radioactive material.
The Haskell ball which had been patented on April 11, 1899, by Cockburn Haskell and Bertram G Work was the template for most balls for the rest of the 20th century with a solid rubber core and rubber thread wrapped around it. This design was really only superseded with the advent of the Titleist Pro V1.
Back in July 1993, Christie’s managed to sell a dozen balls still boxed in their original wrapping for £8,250 ($9,570).
Are Used Golf Balls Worth Something?
While the used golf ball market is worth billions of dollars per year it’s really down to a volume game. You are unlikely to get rich selling golf balls you found on your local golf course. It’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find a rare golf ball while taking your dog for a walk across the links.
You would have a better chance at local flea markets, garage sales or house clearances. Even there though it’s pretty unlikely you will stumble on anything too valuable but you might come across some more modern balls that have a more modest valuation.
Finding valuable antique golf balls is a fairly expensive pastime for the most part, for example, a team of divers was looking for around 20 balls that old Tom Morris was believed to have hit into a lake when designing Rosapenna Golf Course in 1891.
Are Golf Balls Worth Anything: Conclusion
While the right golf ball can be worth thousands the vast majority are only worth a few dollars (or pounds) or even less. If you have the means then you can build up quite an impressive collection of balls no matter what area you decide to specialize in.