Formed with a surface covered in various sizes of hexagons, this
highly unusual ball is marked "P.G." on one pole and "Regd 547,101" on
the other pole. This rubber-core ball is the creation of Sir Ralph Payne
Gallwey, the inventor of the roller golf club with its roller head.
Gallwey was also known as an exponent of the bow and arrow versus club
and ball form of golf, so you might say he was just a little 'out
According to the March 25, 1909 issue of Golfing, Gallwey
"has made extensive studies with regard to the use of projectiles in the
warfare of ages in which firearms were yet unknown, and is the
possessor of many delicate and powerful models of engines which were
employed for discharging these early missiles. These models he has put
to noble use in a variety of tests applied to the flight of golf balls,
and the results of his experiments ... are sufficiently startling." The
article continues on to explain how he tested rubber-cored balls,
gutties, deeply marked balls, smooth balls, knife cut balls, variations
in the number of nicks to a ball, and more.
To sum up PG's results in part, Golfing reported, "Indeed
Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey's experiments would seem to indicate that the
balls we employ at present are marked both too deeply and too closely.
He himself suggests that the ball should be surrounded by slightly
raised lines, intersecting one another at intervals of about a third of
an inch. Such a formation, it will be observed, wouid be a modification
of the "dimple" marking.
On November 11, 1910, Golf Illustrated (p145) reported that
Sir Ralph had produced his own ball! "The P.G. Ball. A year or so back
Sir Ralph Payne Gallwey, the well-known sporting baronet, of Thirkleby
Hall, Thirsk, made an exhaustive series of experiments to test the
comparative merits of the different markings on the cover of a golf
ball. As a result he claims that a reticulated [marked like a net, ed.]
or "melon" marking is the most effective and the "P.G." ball is the
practical exponent of this theory...." The article goes on to praise
the qualities of the ball and then ends by noting, "We should mention
that Sir Ralph Payne Gallwey hands over the profits from the sale of the
ball to a charity."
The PG ball offered here has lost much of its paint and shows use. There are no strike marks and the wear is relatively even across the ball, which still looks quite attractive.
One final point. "547,101" is a British design registration number
that dates to 1909. The auctioneer, however, was unable to locate an
actual registered design. It appears that Sir Ralph applied for his
design registration, received the design registration number which is
provided when the application is submitted, but then never spent the
money nor the effort to completed the application, most likely because
he could see his ball was not selling well..., as evidenced by the few that remain.
This ball is middle row, center in the accompanying group image.