Golf Ball Goes to War

Golfers like fishermen are notorious about telling tales. Usually these stories revolve around that putt which was almost made, that drive which went further and straighter or that chip-in. However not all golf stories revolve around the prowess of the player. Here is a wonderful true story.

During the 1930’s two golf balls dominated the market. Between them they were the Titleist of the day. In North America the Spalding Dot held sway. While in Great Britain the ball to have was the North British.

A sales representative always dreams of having the product that everyone wants. Selling is replaced by order taking. In the spring of 1939 that dream came true. The opportunity was given to sell the North British Golf Ball. The first sales trip in the spring was fun. Instead of selling 6 golf balls to customers as had been the norm, they were buying 6 dozen or even 12 dozen balls at every stop. Repeat orders followed and as the season wore on, the North British Golf Ball became the talked about product.

The fall booking season was eagerly anticipated. It proved to be better than one’s wildest expectations. Customers booked ball schedules i.e. 12 dozen or more each month of the golf season. The company had by far the largest booking season in its history. This was due in large part to the North British Golf Ball. All the orders were put together and mailed to the North British Rubber Company in the North of England. There was nothing left to do but wait for delivery in the spring.

Spring came and one day word was received that the shipment was had arrived. As a very large shipment was expected the shipping floor was cleared to prepare to receive it. The truck backed up to the dock and the big back door. The door was opened and there it was the huge shipment, long awaited and much anticipated. But no it couldn’t be! There was only one box, one wooden crate 5’ x 3’ x 2½’. Although shocked, puzzled and dismayed this very heavy box was carried off the truck and the top was cracked open. There they were, posters in full color, a picture of a British Army Foot Soldier in full battle dress with rifle and hard hat and with a red band across the poster stating “Gone to War”. It was the spring of 1940 and the accompanying letter stated that the North British Rubber Company would be diverting their full production to the war effort and that no golf balls would be made until the war’s end. The enclosed instructions were to send a poster to every customer and to thank them for their support and understanding.

The war ended five years later in 1945 but the North British Rubber Company never made another golf ball.

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