According to an email obtained by MyGolfSpy, Nassau, the South Korean golf ball manufacturer recently purchased by TaylorMade, will produce only TaylorMade-branded products moving forward.
Fortunately for budget-minded golfers, there does appear to be at least one notable exception. Nassau’s largest and best-known client is the Massachusetts-based Snell Golf, owned and operated by Dean Snell. Snell is the former TaylorMade golf ball chief and a former Titleist engineer who helped develop the Pro V1. From what MyGolfSpy has been able to learn, supply-chain issues continue to impact Snell’s inventory but every indication is that the TaylorMade/Nassau facility will continue to supply Snell with golf balls.
The Nassau plant is one of the few facilities in the world capable of making cast urethane-covered golf balls. Before the acquisition, Nassau supplied TaylorMade with finished urethane and ionomer balls as well as cores and mantle layers for TP5 balls which are finished at TaylorMade’s South Carolina facility.
Of note, Nassau was also responsible for the original Kirkland Signature four-piece urethane ball in 2016.
A Surprise Notice
In addition to Snell, Nassau also has produced balls for smaller direct-to-consumer brands and range-ball brands. It has also sold balls in Europe and Asia under its own brand name such as the Nassau Quattro.
It’s not known at this time whether Nassau/TaylorMade gave its larger customers advance notice of its decision. But we know of at least one company that learned via email that Nassau would no longer be providing them with golf balls. The message was received only after repeated attempts to reach its Nassau contacts.
As mentioned, Snell will continue to be supplied by Nassau. It appears TaylorMade’s decision will only impact its smaller DTC and possibly range-ball clients.
TaylorMade responded to MyGolfSpy inquiries with this formal statement:
“With continued demand for TaylorMade golf balls, we have been working hard to increase global capacity and production. After having worked with Nassau Golf Co. Ltd in Korea for over 15 years and partnering with them to expand their capability in ionomer and, eventually, urethane golf balls, we decided to acquire Nassau Golf Co. Ltd in 2021. This enabled us to satisfy demand for our growing golf ball business and leverage our longstanding relationship with Nassau to increase future capacity and golf ball production.”
TaylorMade Controlling Supply
In one sense, we might have seen this coming. TaylorMade’s ball business has grown 176 percent (according to Golf Datatech) over the past five years. While not directly addressing the question of non-TaylorMade customers, the statement indicates TaylorMade is bullish on its golf ball business. The company is clearly looking to take ownership of both its supply chain and means of production and to take care of its own business first and foremost. Dedicating its new factory to meeting demand for its own products is simply good business and common sense.
While many DTC ball suppliers can be vague about their ball sources, Snell has been upfront from the start. Dean Snell’s relationship with Nassau goes back at least 15 years. Snell was with TaylorMade at the time and that’s when the TaylorMade-Nassau relationship began. As mentioned, Nassau is one of only a handful of facilities in the world that makes cast urethane-covered golf balls.
“There aren’t many factories in the world that can do cast urethane,” Snell told MyGolf Spy in 2017. “Titleist has factories, TaylorMade has factories. There are a few overseas. It’s hard to do.”
While at Titleist in the ’90s, Snell developed the cast urethane process used for the original Pro V1. His name is among those listed on the first Pro V1 patent.
Small Brand Fallout
Nassau has kept its client list guarded and, as mentioned, smaller DTC brands have played coy about where they source their balls. The DTC brands affected by this decision are likely small brands you’ve never heard of. With the worldwide supply chain being what it is, many will have a hard, if not impossible, time finding a new supplier. A few will probably disappear.
In the big picture, these small brands are simply a logo and a story. They order balls off their supplier’s menu. On one hand, they won’t be missed if they go out of business. On the other hand, these are people who’ve created a business for themselves. Losing their supplier has placed them in an untenable position. We’ve learned that at least two other golf ball manufacturers are unable to take on new business from former Nassau customers at this time due to material and capacity limitations.
What is uncertain is whether TaylorMade’s decision is permanent. However, judging from what we’ve seen and heard, it would appear so.