The Failed Cayman Ball
Brief History Lesson- Cayman Golf Ball
By Kickntrue on 1/18/10
Since today is a day for remembering history I thought I'd discuss the Cayman Golf Ball; how it came to be and its failure. Back in the 1980's Jack Nicklaus was designing a course in the Grand Caymans and had very limited space, so he got creative.
In the 1980s pro golfer Jack Nicklaus asked the MacGregor Golf Company to develop a ball for an small course his design company was laying out on Grand Cayman Island. Troy Puckett, then MacGregor’s top golf equipment engineer, produced a suitable ball composed mainly of DuPont’s Surlyn. Mr. Puckett has further improved that ball and his company now manufactures it as The Cayman ball.

The Cayman ball is the same size as a golf ball. Instead of dimples it has a brambled surface and weighs 24 grams, compared to the approximately 45 grams of a golf ball. Together these restrict its distance to only slightly more than half the distance of a golf ball with a fast swing and a greater percentage with a slower swing. Its lightness also permits beginners to easily get this ball airborne and prevents miss hits from ever stinging their hands, common drawbacks to these players with a golf ball.
Eagle Landing Golf Club in South Carolina, designed by architect William W. Amick, also tried the Cayman Ball philosophy, but as you can see from the scores and ratings on oob (virtually none) the concept never really took off. You can still play the Nicklaus course with a Cayman ball, but they sell more as souvenirs than anything else.

So what happened to the ball and the company who makes them? They are still around- making all kinds of illegal golf balls. Some of them fly much further than USGA legal and others focus on the initial Nicklaus idea, including the new and failed Ceasar Dimpleless Ball. What I can't figure out from my preliminary research is if Nicklaus still has anything to do with the company, though I doubt it since they started manufacturing illegal balls that fly 20-30 yards longer off the tee (though I've got to say I'm really curious to try those).

I guess the only question unanswered is why didn't the concept work? Are we just too prideful to use a ball that doesn't go as far, or does using technology that purposely limits our abilities go against everything American ingenuity and progress stands for? At any rate- I doubt we're going to see these balls make a comeback though they do make a fun footnote in golf ball history.

Don't say I never taught you anything. And now- a slew of links.

Cayman Ball History
Cayman Ball Failure
Buy Cayman Limited Flight Golf Balls
Buy Illegal Cayman Golf Company Balls
oobgolf Caesar Golf Ball Review

[ comments ]
chrisfb1 says:
the Cayman Ball did not have enough layers to attract the market like the Pro-Vs.
chief_broom says:
The primary appeal of golf is the extreme distances the ball travels. Farther than any other sport. This makes golf a very dynamic game, yet at the same time a game that is accessable to anyone.
tennesseeboy says:
Jackie Burke made a very good point in his book "It's only a game". He said that the golf industry is creating more expensive equipment to allow us to hit the ball further which requires that golf course designers increase the length of golf courses. All of this just increases the cost of playing golf and further limits the number of people that can afford to play it.
Wedgy Golf Bob says:
These balls are fantastic for backyard golf. You can't do a full swing, but they chip really well. They fly almost like a badminton bird or a Canadian football. I made a small golf course on the side of my house. The greens are about five feet in diameter and I used those big temporary green holes that are six inches in diameter. There are four greens on the course, with different tee off to play from. The distance is about 40 feet to the hole, but the greens are so small it makes it a real challenge. Over the years I have added sand traps, trees, a pond, hills, a small ditch and other different obstacles. The yard looks great and people driving by often smile, slow down and yell fore. I swear by these Cayman Balls. They float in the wind and have an excellent spin, plus they don't break windows as easily as a regular golf ball.
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