A guide to collecting stem type golf ball markers.

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Hot Foil example of a quaility commemorative ball marker made in the 1990s
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Hot Foil example of a quaility commemorative ball marker made in the 1990s

How to make informed choices as a collector of stem type golf ball markers.


THIS INFORMATION RELATES TO THE COLLECTING OF STEM TYPE GOLF BALL MARKERS THAT HAVE A LOGO  DISPLAYED ON A CAST METAL OR BRASS HOLDER.


INFORMATION RELATED TO HAND PAINTED / EMBOSSED COIN BALL MARKERS IS COVERED ELSEWHERE. 
 
THE PREFERRED METAL STEM BALL MARKER FOR COLLECTING IS THE TYPE WHERE THE LOGO IS PRINTED ON TO A WHITE OR COLOURED PLASTIC DISC USING THE HOT FOIL PROCESS. THIS PROCESS WAS COMMONLY USED FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF STEM TYPE GOLF BALL MARKERS DURING THE 1980s AND 1990s. THE HOT FOIL PROCESS USED FOR PRINTING LOGOS FOR STEM TYPE BALL MARKERS WAS LARGELY ABANDONED AFTER THE YEAR 2000 WHEN RESIN DOME TYPE BALL MARKERS WERE INTRODUCED.
 
THE RESIN DOME PROCESS HAS PROVED TO BE A CHEAPER AND MORE SIMPLE WAY TO MANUFACTURE BALL MARKERS. A CLEAR RESIN DOME COVER IS STUCK OVER A COMPUTER PRINTED LOGO, SOMETIMES APPLIED DIRECTLY OVER A SIMPLE PAPER STICKER. THE RESIN DOME WITH LOGO IS THEN APPLIED TO A CAST METAL OR BRASS BALL MARKER HOLDER. THE RESIN DOME DOES PROVIDE WATERPROOF PROTECTION OF THE LOGO IMAGE FOR USE ON THE GOLF COURSE BUT WITH CONTINUED USE THE CLEAR DOME SOON BECOMES SCUFFED AND DULL AND THE IMAGE BELOW BECOMES BLURRED.  
 
BALLMARKERS MADE USING THE HOT FOIL PROCESS HAVE PROVED TO BE MORE DURABLE AND IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES THE COLOURS ON THE LOGO IMAGE ARE MORE VIVID AND ATTRACTIVE PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY INCLUDE THE APPLICATION OF GOLD OR SILVER FOIL TO ENHANCE THE LOGO. THIS IS WHY THEY HAVE PROVED SO COLLECTABLE.
 
THE HOT FOIL PROCESS IS A TIME CONSUMING AND TECHNICALLY COMPLICATED PROCESS AS EACH COLOUR OR GOLD / SILVER FOIL ELEMENT OF THE IMAGE HAS TO BE APPLIED IN SEPARATE LAYERS TO BUILD UP THE FINISHED LOGO. EXPENSIVE PRINTING MACHINERY IS REQUIRED AND THE CENTERING OF THE HOT FOIL PRINT ON THE PLASTIC DISC CAN PROVE  VERY DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE ON A CONSISTENT BASIS. THE MORE COLOURS THAT ARE  REQUIRED TO BUILD UP THE GOLF CLUB LOGO THE MORE  TIME CONSUMING AND CONSEQUENTLY EXPENSIVE IT WAS TO PRINT THE LOGOS.

GOLF BALL MARKERS WITH LOGO DESIGNS MADE USING THE HOT FOIL PROCESS ARE USUALLY MORE STRIKING AND COLOURFUL, PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY INCLUDE THE STUNNING GOLD AND SILVER FOIL EFFECTS. THE GOLD AND SILVER FOIL EFFECT IS VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO REPLICATE TO A SIMILAR STANDARD USING COMPUTER PRINTING METHODS.
 
SOME GOLF BALL MARKERS ARE CLASSED AS ' COMMEMORATIVES '  AS THESE WERE MADE AT A LATER DATE TO A PARTICULAR EVENT OR COMPETITION. ALL BALLMARKERS DATED 1952 OR EARLIER ARE CERTAINLY ‘COMMEMORATIVES’ AS THE STYMIE RULE APPLIED BEFORE THAT YEAR AND TO LIFT AND CLEAN A BALL ON THE GREEN WAS NOT ALLOWED – HENCE BALLMARKERS PRIOR TO THAT DATE WERE NOT REQUIRED. IT IS QUITE COMMON TO FIND BALL MARKERS COMMEMORATING EARLIER EVENTS OR TOURNAMENTS BUT THE COLLECTOR NEEDS TO BE CAREFUL WHEN SELECTING WHICH BALL MARKERS TO ADD TO THEIR COLLECTION.
 
THE HOT FOIL ‘COMMEMORATIVE’ BALL MARKERS ARE HIGHLY VALUED BY COLLECTORS PARTICULARLY IF THEY HAVE GOLD OR SILVER FOIL EMBELLISHMENTS. THE MANUFACTURE PROCESS USUALLY INDICATES THAT THEY WERE MADE IN THE 1980s OR 1990s AND AS SUCH HAVE SOME AGE AND RARITY ATTACHED.
 
THE OPEN WINNERS SETS ARE ONE SUCH EXAMPLE OF THE TYPE OF ‘COMMEMORATIVE’ BALL MARKER THAT HAS PROVED ATTRACTIVE TO COLLECTORS.  THESE SETS  COULD BE PURCHASED IN LIMITED NUMBERS AT MANY OF THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS HELD DURING THE 1990s. THE FINAL COMPLETE SET EVER PRODUCED AND SOLD AT THE OPEN WAS  AT THE MILLENNIUM OPEN HELD AT ST ANDREWS.  INDIVIDUAL WINNERS MARKERS WERE  MADE AFTER THE 2000, 2001 AND 2002 OPENS TO MATCH PREVIOUSLY RELEASED SETS BUT SINCE THAT TIME NO WINNERS SETS HAVE BEEN MADE AND SOLD AT OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS. ALL OF THESE WINNERS SETS WERE MADE  USING THE HOT FOIL PROCESS AND THE ROYAL TROON, ROYAL BIRKDALE AND ST ANDREWS SETS ARE FINE EXAMPLES OF THE USE OF GOLD AND SILVER FOIL EMBELLISHMENTS.
 
IN RECENT YEARS COPIES OF THESE ‘COMMEMORATIVES’ HAVE APPEARED ON EBAY. THEY ARE MADE BY USING A COMPUTER TO SCAN THE LOGO AND PRINT THE IMAGE ON TO STICKERS. THEY ARE THEN PLACED UNDER A RESIN DOME OR APPLIED DIRECTLY TO A METAL HOLDER. YOU WILL REALISE THAT THESE ITEMS ARE VIRTUALLY WORTHLESS AS A COLLECTORS ITEM AND WOULD NOT LAST LONG IF USED ON A GOLF COURSE.

BY USING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION PROVIDED YOU SHOULD EASILY BE ABLE TO DISTINGUISH THESE COPIES FROM THE ‘HOT FOIL’ ORIGINALS. A TYPICAL EXAMPLE OF A RECENTLY ‘COPIED’ SET IS THE MUIRFIELD OPEN WINNERS SET.  THIS PARTICULAR BALL MARKER LOGO IS EASILY COPIED AS IT CONSISTS OF A SIMPLE TWO COLOUR LOGO OF A GOLFING FIGURE ON A WHITE BACKGROUND INVOLVING NO GOLD OR SILVER FOIL EMBELLISHMENTS. IN COMPARISON, THE ROYAL BIRKDALE WINNERS SERIES HAS PROVED MORE DIFFICULT TO COPY AS IT INVOLVES SILVER FOIL PRINTING ON A BLACK BACKGROUND.
 
IT IS ALSO WORTH LOOKING AT THE METAL ‘HOLDER’ USED FOR THE BALL MARKER. IT IS A FACT THAT ALL OF THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER SETS LOGOS WERE HOUSED IN SOLID BRASS STEM BALL MARKER HOLDERS.  THEY WERE ‘NEVER’ HOUSED IN A CAST METAL HOLDER OR UNDER A RESIN DOME.
 
I HOPE THIS GUIDE PROVES USEFUL.
 
HAPPY BALL MARKER COLLECTING!

PAUL

Royal Birkdale Open Winners set - Hot Foil original from 1998
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Royal Birkdale Open Winners set - Hot Foil original from 1998
Recent fake copies - easily identified. Worthless!
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Recent fake copies - easily identified. Worthless!
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Recent fake copies - easily identified. Worthless!
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Recent fake copies - easily identified. Worthless!
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Recent fake copies - easily identified. Worthless!
Not so easy to spot - the copied fake is the one at the top.The original is below.Note the printing and different stem.
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Not so easy to spot - the copied fake is the one at the top.The original is below.Note the printing and different stem.
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Not so easy to spot - the copied fake is the one at the top.The original is below.Note the printing and different stem.
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Not so easy to spot - the copied fake is the one at the top.The original is below.Note the printing and different stem.
Another fake on the left (with incorrect spelling of Masters). Original ball marker on the right.
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Another fake on the left (with incorrect spelling of Masters). Original ball marker on the right.
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Another fake on the left (with incorrect spelling of Masters). Original ball marker on the right.
I like this! A fine example of hot foil printing!
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I like this! A fine example of hot foil printing!
Another poor copy - resin cover (resin covers first introduced 1999)
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Another poor copy - resin cover (resin covers first introduced 1999)
The genuine marker is on the right laminated plastic logo, The left logo sticker is computer printed on paper.
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The genuine marker is on the right laminated plastic logo, The left logo sticker is computer printed on paper.
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The genuine marker is on the right laminated plastic logo, The left logo sticker is computer printed on paper.

Can you spot the fake above - more difficult?

The ball marker on the left is the fake copy. They have the same metal holder and the logo on the original (right) is not good. However, it is printed on a plastic sticker with added  lamination to protect it on the golf course. The copy on the left (a good one) is computer printed on a paper sticker - how long will this last on the golf course?  One round I guess!  The original on the right was produced by Bob James of Normandy Sports, Buckinghamshire UK in 2000 - this marker was one in a set that included all the Muirfield Opens. It was  never adopted for sale at the 2001 Open Championship by the R&A and this was not surprising really as it is a not a good ball marker. Markers from the original sets are of course very rare - but can you tell the genuine ball markers from the fakes?  Take care when selecting and buying your ball markers.

Good luck with your ball marker collecting hobby!
Ok - no fancy gold or silver foil in the above but all genuine ball markers from the 1980s / 1990s.
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Ok - no fancy gold or silver foil in the above but all genuine ball markers from the 1980s / 1990s.
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Ok - no fancy gold or silver foil in the above but all genuine ball markers from the 1980s / 1990s.
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Ok - no fancy gold or silver foil in the above but all genuine ball markers from the 1980s / 1990s.
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Ok - no fancy gold or silver foil in the above but all genuine ball markers from the 1980s / 1990s.
Golf club centenary ball markers are very popular with collectors - all the above are genuine.
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Golf club centenary ball markers are very popular with collectors - all the above are genuine.
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Golf club centenary ball markers are very popular with collectors - all the above are genuine.
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Golf club centenary ball markers are very popular with collectors - all the above are genuine.
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Golf club centenary ball markers are very popular with collectors - all the above are genuine.
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