Ping Eye Karsten two-color golf balls, N/A.

Just like golf clubs, golf balls have always been a pain for me. I'll spot a sealed box of a dozen brand new golf balls at a yard sale that look like a million bucks. The box is splashed with high-tech lingo about how the balls fly straighter and farther than any ball ever made, and I just know that the eBayers are going to go crazy for them.

And then, I find out after I get home that my dozen balls were indeed the hottest thing around... a dozen years ago! So, for the most part, I tend to shy away from golf balls, unless they're the really ancient 'gutta percha' balls that have the various and unusual textures to them that golf balls had before the little round dimples became the standard texture. But you know what? I never see any of those old balls. There must be some sort of golf ball out there that people will pay me for and that's actually out there so I can find and buy it! And there is - the Ping 'two-color' golf ball. These things are actually so pretty that it's no wonder people collect them!

Karsten is popular nowadays for their Ping golf clubs and putters, but between the years of 1977 and 1997, they also made golf balls. Ping wasn't making these particular two-color balls for the entire time they were in the ball business; they jumped in during the 1980's craze for colored golf balls. Back in the 1980's, most golf ball manufacturers were offering colored golf balls along with their regular white balls, but only three companies - Ram, Tracer and Ping offered two-color balls, in yellow and orange. After the other two companies stopped making two-color balls, Ping started making their two-color balls in all sorts of different combinations.

The original combinations of Ping balls were orange and yellow, orange and white and yellow and white. By far, the most common color you're going to find is the yellow and orange. Ping later decided to add the color combination of dark pink and white, which was followed by all sorts of combinations of colors. Back when these balls were sold in pro shops, Ping provided the pro shops with clear display cases that contained a dozen apiece of the six color combinations of orange and white, dark pink and white, yellow and white, yellow and orange, lavender and white, and aqua and white. All of these balls are the most common colors you're likely to find.

There are three main types of Ping two-color balls. The first type is called the "Eye," because of the little eye that appears on the seam between the colors. This type of ball also has PING printed on both sides with a number below it, as well as KARSTEN on the side opposite the Eye.

The second type of ball is the Promotional ball, which Ping usually gave away to golf pros and put into their promotional packages. Whereas Ping's Promotional ball is obvious by the word printed onto the ball itself, Ping is the only company that marked their balls this way. All other companies used the number 0 for their promotional balls.

The third type of ball is the Ping Eye 2, which has Ping Eye 2 printed on both sides of the ball with the ball number right above it. You normally don't find any other printing on this type of ball, unless the customer specifically requested it. The Ping Eye 2 was the last type of colored ball produced by Ping before they went back to making just white balls, and then decided to get out of the ball business altogether.

As far as the two-color Ping balls go, the most common color combinations (with the exception of the yellow and orange, of course) are white and another color. Ping balls with color on color (as opposed to color on white) are less common, and therefore more valuable to collectors. An exception to this rule is the black and white Ping, which is rather uncommon. From what I've seen on eBay, a ball's value is usually a factor of its attractiveness and of course, its rarity. The most valuable balls seem to have purple, black, silver or gold on one side, and the balls that combine a color with a metallic color seem to do really well on eBay, often bringing up to $300 apiece.

Note that you may run across one of these balls with a small hole in it, which occurs because these balls were sometimes used as key chains, fixed to the chain by a small eye that was screwed into the ball. This hole will obviously detract a little from the balls value. Some balls will also exhibit a bubbling on the surface which is a result of the ball having spent time underwater, and which significantly reduces a ball's desirability.

So, there you have it - a little more information to arm yourself with as you peruse the yard sales and flea markets. The reason I put the 'N/A' as the price I paid for these balls is because I've actually acquired them in ones, twos and threes, over a period of time. Whenever I see a bucket or box of balls, I make it a habit to root around to see if any of these little jewels are hiding inside. And they're not hard to spot! So far, I haven't run across any of the really valuable specimens, but what's important is that if they do cross my path, I'll be ready for them!

Photo of Karsten Ping two color golf balls