David Klinger submitted these timely thoughts on the numismatics of golf. Thanks! -Editor
As I was watching the Masters Golf Tournament on TV, I was wondering about what coins were being used as ball markers by the various players.
The Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Rule 20-1 states in part, “The position of a ball to be lifted should be marked by placing a ball-marker, a small coin or other similar object immediately behind the ball.”
While there's no penalty for using an object that's not similar to a plastic ball-marker or a small coin, you'll rarely see a PGA player use anything other than a small coin or flat disc to mark a ball.
Some golfers use poker chips, medals, or other flat items, but most that I see use coins. My favorite golfer, Phil Mickelson, tells a story about his grandfather Al Santos, who kept in his pocket a silver dollar
from 1900 that he never spent. Instead, he rubbed the coin whenever he felt poor, a small comfort to know that he had money. " I have that silver dollar today, and I've used it as a ball marker during the AT&T
Pebble Beach Pro-Am as a marker, and will continue to do so," Mickelson said. This is the actual coin which Phil uses:
Jack Nicklaus said that he would never play a round of golf without three coins in his pocket—and it must be exactly three, no more, no less. The denominations didn’t matter to the Golden Bear, and as long as three coins
were jingling in his pocket, he could step out to the first tee.
Chi Chi Rodriquez, like Nicklaus, also always carried three coins on him but his approach was a little different. He would mark his birdie putts with a quarter, his eagle putts with a buffalo nickel, and if things weren’t
going his way, he’d switch to a gold coin.
Tiger Woods always places his coin with heads up. This is because, as an amateur in 1996 he was asked to move his marker to allow play for his competitor. He almost forgot to move it back before playing, which would have
meant a penalty. His competitor reminded him, so he avoided the penalty. Ever since, he always places his coin heads up, and if he is asked to move it he then places it tails up - thus he is able to avoid any confusion.
Davis Love III believes that all coins minted after 1970 are deemed to be bad luck. This is why he prefers pennies minted in the 1960s.
Maybe some other readers have stories to tell. Here are some other ball makers currently in use:
As for me, I prefer my personal challenge coin:
So what other numismatic objects are associated with the game of golf? How about medals, script or chits? Let us know what you have, and send pictures if you can. Thanks. -Editor
I almost forgot to include this numismatic connection from Tiger Woods. Tiger won his first Pro championship in 1996, at age 20, at the Las Vegas Invitational. Notice that one of his three trophies has a Morgan Dollar
Wayne Homren, Editor
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