How a Missed Putt Led to the Founding of Titleist

Phil Young 1910Phil Young (1910)

It was a Sunday afternoon in 1930 and Phil Young, a dedicated amateur golfer who also just so happened to be the owner of a precision molded rubber company (Acushnet Process Company), was playing a match against his friend who was the head of the x-ray department at a local hospital. On the final shot of the final hole, Young lined up his putt, made a solid stroke at it, but as it neared the hole, it started to wobble and it didn’t go in. And as every golfer knows, it’s never the result of operator error. It’s always the equipment’s fault, right?... Right?

Well, in all seriousness, convinced that the ball itself was at fault, Young and his opponent went to the hospital, x-rayed the golf ball in question, and found that its core was, in fact, off-center. 

With his discovery, Phil Young persuaded Fred Bommer, a fellow MIT graduate, rubber specialist and avid golfer, to head up the Acushnet Golf Division. They knew that by implementing a better manufacturing process he would be able to make the best golf ball in the world; one that would be uniform and consistent in quality, ball after ball — and that's exactly what they set out to do.

 Acushnet Processing (1912)

It took Young and Bommer several painstaking years to perfect the first Titleist golf ball, but when it was ready in 1935, it could truthfully be introduced to club professionals and golfers as the best ball ever made. Applying a lesson well learned, Young implemented a process check that is still in practice today: every single Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf ball is x-rayed.

We had a conversation with Dick Young, the son of Acushnet Company founder, Phil Young. As Dick recalls for us, had it not been for his father’s frustrating run-in with an irregular golf ball, the story of the #1 ball in golf might never have been written. Listen to the full audio below:

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For more stories about the history and heritage of Titleist, check out the Titleist Story.