Golf Playing Through: Golf, the Canadian Story

Made in Canada: 1921 to 1950
Rubber Balls and Steel Clubs Tees Caddies and Carrying Canadian Course Architects

Rubber Balls and Steel Clubs

With the post-war production of new smaller and denser balls with more tightly wound thread, which travelled even farther, the rule-makers of golf had to choose between lengthening courses yet again, or limiting the distance a ball would travel. Consequently, rules were established in 1921 limiting the size of the golf ball to not less than 1.62 inches in diameter and not more than 1.62 ounces in weight. With this standardization of the size of the ball came a further proliferation in variety of manufacturing materials and techniques, and the opportunity for Canadian manufacture of golf balls.

The Canada Golf Ball Company of Toronto started to make balls in its own factory in 1922. Advertised as being completely made in Canada, their "Pioneer", "National", and "Plus Four" balls appeared for a number of years.

Fashion-craft Golf Ball - A-4078 a-d - CD94-517-091
Figure 26: Fashion-craft Golf Ball, price 3 for $1.00, "produced in Canada."
CMC A-4078 a-d

Following Canada's acceptance of the American standard "large ball" size in 1948, ball manufacturers in Canada were quick to produce balls that met the new standards. The Eaton's catalogue of 1948 offered "Campbell high compression" golf balls in the new size for $1.05 each, and the new size "Blue Goose" for 80 cents each.

Until the First World War, club-making in Canada consisted only of the finishing of club components imported from Britain or the United States. When Spalding opened their Brantford factory in the 1920s, they manufactured their steel-shafted Kro-flite clubs on site. Wood-shafted clubs manufactured in the United States and Canada for department stores were sold by the thousands to a society that was golf-hungry in the 1920s and 1930s.

The use of steel-shafted clubs was legalized in the United States in 1924 and the rules of golf were changed in May 1925 to permit their use in Canada. In Scotland, these clubs were not considered legal until 1929.

The Eaton's catalogue of 1949 offered Canadian golfers a choice between an expensive set of American-made "Sam Snead" Signature golf clubs, "exclusive with Eaton's in Canada" or a cheaper set of Canadian-made steel-shafted MacGregor "Pacemaker" golf clubs.

The early to mid-1950s era is generally regarded among collectors as the "Golden Age" of club manufacturing. It was a time when craftsmen fashioned by hand clubs - incorporating intricate inlay work, sometimes with ivory and coloured inserts - that have come to be known as "fancy-faced clubs."

Tee Line Driver - 994.6.13 - CD97-383-023 Figure 27: Tee Line driver, "The Custom" with laminated head, titanium shaft, and rubber composite grip, made by Stan Kolar and given to the Canadian Golf Museum in the 1970s.
CMC 994.6.13