Best in Show: ‘Birdieball’

By: Bob Spiwak


Despite the title, this has not to do with canines, felines, or fashion models. It is about a device called “Birdieball” that has garnered some top honors by the golfing press.

Birdieball is a device you hit with a golf club. Unlike a Wiffle ball, this thing has substance and will fly about 40 yards when well-struck. And when well-struck, it produces a pleasant humming noise. It appears to be a cylinder of PVC pipe about an inch and a half in diameter and two inches tall. The ends are beveled. If you’ve ever had a golf lesson and were told, “Pretend there is a tee under the ball and hit it,” the bevel makes an ideal target.

After buying my first set I attempted to duplicate the device with PVC. It worked for about two smites with an iron before shattering: With a wood, it emulsified on the first swing every time. According to company co-owner Paul Olson, the Birdieball is made of a superpolymer, not PVC. That was all he would divulge.

Olson is a partner with John Breaker, whose father came up with the concept some years ago. Headquartered in Wheat Ridge, Colo., the pair began making the product in 2003, selling them retail along with animal headcovers.

Business picked up to the point where they were selling to other retailers, then went into mail order. Introduced at the 2005 PGA show, the device was voted Best New Product of the year – “Best in Show.” In addition to golf mags, it has gotten accolades from USA Today and Readers Digest.

You can get all the details at www.birdieball.com along with the reviews. The ball is now accompanied, if desired, with a set that contains targets and a “Strike Pad,” which allows even hitting off concrete. Schools have gotten the sets and set up courses on their football fields. Readers Digest proclaimed the set its “Best Gift Under $50.”    

I see this as a great tool not only for adult golfers, but children as well – from toddlers to teens. Games can be invented similar to “Having a catch” with a baseball or football, hitting the thing back and forth.

For me, with a four-acre private course that is covered with several feet of snow from November to April, I ordered more of the yellow “Pro Series” balls. These are claimed to be softer, if a little more expensive. I got the yellow because, unlike regular balls, these should not burrow deeply into the snow and be readily retrieved.

And while my buddies are bemoaning the closed golf courses, I will be grooving my swing all winter long.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he’s back to being a fanatical golfer. Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob’s most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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