Wilson Golf Ball History

By David Green

Wilson Sporting Goods opened its doors in Chicago in 1914, and initially focused its golf efforts on producing clubs. Since beginning its golf division, the company has driven such innovations as the invention of the sand wedge and ushered in the popularity of the persimmon wood. More importantly, its first golf ball, the Wilson Staff, set the industry standard--other companies then followed Wilson's lead and researched ways to improve the golf ball.


In 1954, the company introduced its Wilson Staff ball, which Wilson claimed traveled 40 percent faster than the speed of the club head. The ball quickly became a favorite among players on the PGA Tour and was the choice of many major championship winners in the 1950s and 1960s.


Wilson golf balls conform to all the standards set by the United States Golf Association (USGA) to be allowed on professional tours. Like all golf balls, Wilson's are not heavier than 45.93 grams and do not have a diameter less than 42.67 millimeters.


After launching the Staff ball in the 1950s, Wilson debuted the popular Ultra in the 1983, and has continued to implement improvements to its line of golf balls. The company later began selling the Zip golf ball, which was touted as the "only 3-piece zero compression core ball in the industry." The new core is designed to produce more spin for the average golfer, and earned the Silver Medal in Golf Digest's 2009 Hot List.


Wilson's early innovations in golf club and ball design made the company a popular choice for professionals choosing equipment. Professional golfers who have used Wilson golf balls in tournaments include Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Patty Berg, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Nick Faldo and Padraig Harrington. The company claims its golf ball has been used by more U.S. Open and Masters winners than any other golf ball.


Wilson was the first real innovator in the golf ball market; with its Staff ball, Wilson started the race to improve golf balls. In 2009, the market for golf balls is a crowded one, with such companies as Titleist, Callaway, Nike, TaylorMade, Srixon and others debuting new balls each year. As technology improves, the already crowded market is likely to get more competitive.

About The Author

A former sports and lifestyle reporter at the "Daily Nebraskan," David Green is a writer who has covered a variety of topics for daily newspapers. He was selected by the "Los Angeles Times" to participate in the Jim Murray Sports Writing Workshop. Green holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska.


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