How could it be that the first book devoted exclusively to golf balls was published the year Robert de Vicenzo suffered one of the cruelest of all fates, signing the wrong scorecard in the 1968 Masters? Our sport has a long, rich history of literature, yet we had to wait until the year Bob Goalby won the Masters for a book dedicated to that maddening little sphere we chase around. Subsequently, two additional books have been published, all three featured into today’s review.
The Curious History of the Golf Ball: mankind’s most fascinating sphere was written by John Stuart Martin in 1968 and published in two editions. The book is 192 pages in total, 32 of which are black and white photos. The standard trade edition is generally available for under $50. The signed, limited edition of the book was published in 500 copies with a slipcase and each was signed by Martin. Generally, copies of these are much more expensive, selling in the $200-$400 range.
The Golf Ball Book by Udo Machat and Larry Dennis was published in 2000 and also issued in two editions. A “Collector’s Edition” was published in a limited edition of 100, each signed by Machat. This version of the book was issued with a special white cloth slipcase with an embossed metal label. The standard trade edition was issued simply with a dust jacket. The book is illustrated with about 175 color photographs of rare golf balls from private collections. The book traces the evolution of the golf ball, including theories on early golf balls. The book is very high quality and has the most images of balls of all three of the books.
The Story of the Golf Ball was written by Kevin W. McGimpsey and was published in 2003 in four separate editions. The special “green” edition was issued as a limited set of 125. The limitation numbers for the green edition are from 51-100; 151-200 and 226-250. There was also a “Maroon” edition, issued as a limited set of 125 with the limitation numbers 1-50; 101-150 and 201-225.
The most limited of the “limited” editions is a “blue” version, which was limited to only twenty copies. All the limited edition books are signed by McGimpsey and come with Kaduna goatskin slipcases. The book was also published simultaneously in a standard trade edition with a dustjacket. All four editions contain the same content.
Over 3,000 balls are listed and described in detail with dates, characteristics, original selling price and values today based on hundreds of auction realized prices. The book is 288 pages in total with 32 pages of color illustrations.