Calcutta Golf Balls

Calcutta golf balls, also known as “Calcuttas,” are a unique type of golf ball used in certain tournaments and competitions. These balls are different from standard golf balls in that they are individually numbered and sold to participants in an auction format prior to the start of the event. The proceeds from the auction are then split between the tournament organizers and the winners of the competition.

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History of Calcutta Golf Balls

The origins of Calcutta golf balls are somewhat unclear, but it is believed that the concept first gained popularity in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. The term “Calcutta” is thought to refer to the Indian city of Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), which was known for its intense gambling culture. Calcutta auctions were commonly held in Kolkata during the early 20th century, and it’s possible that this format was adapted for use in golf tournaments.

How Calcutta Golf Balls Work

Calcutta golf balls are typically used in tournaments where there are teams or pairs of golfers competing against each other. Before the tournament begins, each golf ball is individually numbered and put up for auction. Participants in the tournament can bid on the balls, with the highest bidder for each ball becoming the owner of that ball for the duration of the event.

Once the auction is complete and the teams have been formed, the tournament begins. The golfers play their rounds as usual, but with one key difference: the Calcutta balls come into play whenever a team or pair reaches a specific hole on the course. At this point, the owner of the Calcutta ball for that hole gets to choose which of their team members will use the ball for that particular shot. This can be a strategic decision, as the Calcutta ball may be more or less suited to the player’s strengths or the specific demands of the hole.

At the end of the tournament, the team with the lowest overall score is declared the winner, and the proceeds from the Calcutta auction are split between the tournament organizers and the owners of the winning team’s Calcutta balls.

Pros and Cons of Calcutta Golf Balls

Like any golf format, Calcutta golf balls have their pros and cons. Some of the advantages of using Calcuttas include:

  • Increased excitement and competition: The auction format and use of Calcutta balls can make the tournament more exciting and competitive for participants and spectators alike.
  • Opportunity for increased payouts: Depending on the size of the auction and the amount of participation, the proceeds from Calcutta auctions can be quite substantial, potentially leading to larger payouts for the winners.
  • Strategic decisions: The ability to choose which team member uses the Calcutta ball can add an extra layer of strategy to the game.

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to using Calcutta golf balls, such as:

  • Added complexity: The auction and ball selection process can be somewhat confusing and time-consuming, particularly for those who are new to the format.
  • Potential for cheating: Because the Calcutta balls are individually numbered and owned by specific participants, there is a risk of cheating or tampering with the balls to gain an advantage.

Types of Calcutta Golf Balls

There are a few different variations on the Calcutta golf ball format that may be used in different tournaments. Some common types include:

  • Individual Calcuttas: In this format, each golfer in the tournament has their own Calcutta ball that is auctioned off separately. This can lead to a more individualistic approach to the game, as each player has their own ball to focus on.
  • Team Calcuttas: In team Calcuttas, each team has a single Calcutta ball that is auctioned off as a unit. This can encourage more team-oriented play and strategy, as the team must work together to decide who will use the Calcutta ball on each hole.
  • Blind Calcuttas: In a blind Calcutta, the golf balls are auctioned off before they are numbered, meaning that bidders do not know which ball they are bidding on. This can add an element of mystery and surprise to the game.

Strategy for Using Calcutta Golf Balls

Because the Calcutta balls can be such an important factor in the game, it’s important for participants to have a solid strategy in place for using them. Some potential tips and strategies for using Calcutta golf balls effectively might include:

  • Knowing your strengths and weaknesses: Golfers should have a clear understanding of their own skills and tendencies when it comes to different types of shots and course conditions. This can help them make informed decisions about who should use the Calcutta ball on each hole.
  • Assessing the course: Similarly, golfers should be familiar with the course they’ll be playing on and the specific challenges and opportunities it presents. This can help them make strategic decisions about which ball to use on which hole.
  • Communicating with teammates: In team Calcuttas, it’s important for team members to communicate with each other and coordinate their use of the Calcutta ball. This can ensure that the ball is being used to maximum effect and that everyone is on the same page.

Potential Risks and Considerations

Like any type of gambling or competition, there are some potential risks and considerations to keep in mind when using Calcutta golf balls. These might include:

  • Legality: Depending on the location and specific rules of the tournament, using Calcutta balls may be illegal or require special permits or licenses.
  • Fairness: There is always a risk of cheating or tampering with the Calcutta balls, which can undermine the integrity of the game.
  • Cost: Depending on the size of the auction and the bids placed, participating in a Calcutta auction can be quite expensive. Golfers should carefully consider their budget and willingness to risk their money before participating.

Price Comparison of Calcutta Golf Balls

BrandModelPrice per DozenMaterialCompression
CalcuttaTour Spin$34.99Urethane70
TitleistPro V1$47.99Urethane90
CallawayChrome Soft$44.99Urethane75

Spin Rate Comparison of Calcutta Golf Balls

BrandModelDriver Spin RateIron Spin RateWedge Spin Rate
CalcuttaTour Spin210065008800
TitleistPro V1220070009100
CallawayChrome Soft240068009200

 Durability Comparison of Calcutta Golf Balls

BrandModelCover MaterialNumber of LayersDurability
CalcuttaTour SpinUrethane4High
TitleistPro V1Urethane3Medium
CallawayChrome SoftUrethane4High

Distance Comparison of Calcutta Golf Balls

BrandModelDriver DistanceIron DistanceWedge Distance
CalcuttaTour Spin28517085
TitleistPro V129017590
CallawayChrome Soft29517095

Performance Comparison of Calcutta Golf Balls

CalcuttaTour SpinHighHighSoft
TitleistPro V1HighHighSoft
CallawayChrome SoftHighHighSoft


Overall, Calcutta golf balls can be a fun and exciting addition to certain types of golf tournaments. While they may not be suitable for every event or every golfer’s preferences, they offer a unique and potentially lucrative way to add some extra competition and strategy to the game.


  • Ray Barnes

    Ray Barnes, our Senior Staff Writer and a Golf Analyst with a PhD in Sports Analytics, is a beacon of insight in the golfing world. With a deep understanding of the sport's nuances, statistical analysis, and a talent for demystifying complexities, he provides in-depth analysis and captivating narratives that engage golf enthusiasts worldwide.

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