BOB WEST ON GOLF: Real golfers remember playing with Peau-Doux balls

Published 1:41 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Today’s golf ball of choice, even for many higher handicappers, is the Titleist Pro VI.

Those who don’t use the Pro VI, or some other Titleist product, probably tee it up with a Callaway, a Bridgestone, a Pinnacle, a Top Flite or one of numerous other brands promising more distance, a higher spin rate, softer feel or any number of enticing options.

It hasn’t always been that way, as many seniors can testify. If your golfing days date back to the 1950s, you were no doubt aware of the red and black Titleist, but you may well have played with a Club Special, a Turfrider, a U.S. Royal, a Spalding Dot, a Kro-Flite, or even a Po Do.

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Babe Zaharias professional Ed Campbell remembers them all, right down to his prize souvenir from the early 1950s — a vintage Po Do. Except it was spelled Peau-Doux. And not for anything to do with Cajun ancestry.

The Peau-Doux was the golfing brainchild of Charles Walgreen, founder of the drug store chain by the same name. Walgreen, a pharmacist by trade, and an avid golfer in his spare time, decided he could boost business by selling golf balls in his stores in the 1930s.

So he introduced the Peau-Doux, a three-piece wound balta ball with square grooves that fetched a whopping 35 cents. Named after his dog, the Peau-Doux was a bargain compared to the 75 cents being charged for the more expensive balls of the day. He sold them in sleeves of three at the corner drug store and even convinced PGA Tour pro Johnny Bulla to promote the product.

As you might imagine, that did not sit well with the PGA. In those days, golf balls could only be purchased through golf shops. Then, out of the blue, comes a drug-store chain offering a cheaper option good enough to be endorsed by a touring pro.

Now back to Ed Campbell. As a kid working in the Tyrrell Park pro shop in the early 1950s, Campbell spotted a faded Peau-Doux in a box of balls being sold for 10 cents. It got his attention because of the square dimples and because it was old and faded.

“The main reasons I bought it were the square dimples and the spelling,” he said. “Nobody was making a ball with square dimples then. Plus, the name had changed to Po Do at some point. It was a really old ball and I just thought this is something I needed to buy and save. It’s a pretty interesting conversation piece.”

When last rites were said for the Peau Doux in the early 1970s, U.S. Royal jumped into the market with golf balls that had square and triangular dimples.

The U.S Royal never really caught on, however, as the Club Special became the ball of choice for many mid and high handicappers.

Campbell also has a Club Special story.

“When Johnnie Barlow was building The Palms at Pleasure Island, he called me one day,” related Campbell. “He said, ‘Ed, we’ve been dredging out the ponds that were on the old Pleasure Island Course and you wouldn’t believe how many Club Specials we have uncovered.’”

My guess is that many who are reading this have probably played with a Club Special. If so, let me know. Or tell me about some other exotic ball that was part of your golfing past.


Parents of golfers ages 7-18 have two opportunities over the upcoming holidays to get sons/daughters into camps taught by KAM professionals at Bayou Din Golf Club for the First Tee of the Golden Triangle.

Instructors Kurt Picard and Mitch Duncan will be heading a Christmas Camp Dec. 21-22 and a New Year’s Camp Dec. 28-29. Hours of instruction will be 9 a.m. to noon both days, with the focus on golf fundamentals, rules and etiquette. Also stressed with be the Life Skills Experience curriculum of The First Tee.

Cost for each camp is $125 per player. The contact person is Jerry Honza at 543-6364 or …

Playing in a best 2-ball format, the team of Roddy Weatherly, Ed Hetzel, Gene Hardy and Dan Flood posted 5 under to win the front nine in the Senior 50 Plus Game at Babe Zaharias. On the back nine, the foursome of Larry Thompson, Benny Sharpe, Tom LeTourneau and Bud Auffurth prevailed with minus 5. …

The team of Adam Noel, Ed Hetzel, Art Miller and Harold Wilkinson won the Babe Zaharias DogFight with 15 points. Tied for second at 14 points was the foursome of Rick Pritchett, Charles Leard, Roger Koch and Tommy Lemire and the team of Larry Johnson, John Jessen, Don Duplan and Dwain Morrison. …

Closest to the pin winners were Bob West (No. 2), Harrell Guidry (No. 7), Cap Hollier (No. 12) and Gary Whitfill (No. 15). …

The Senior Game at The Babe was played in a Florida Scramble format. On the front, the team of Earl Richard, John Jessen, Bob Moore, Larry Rogers and Robert Lynch won with minus 8. The foursome of Larry Stansbury, Larry Foster, Paul Duplantis and Paul Brown took the back with minus 8. Closest to the pin winners were Foster (No 2), Charles Huckaby (No. 7), Pritchett (No. 12) and Joe Gongora (No. 15). …

Beaumonter Anthony Broussard, who played at Kelly High School, then went on to a solid college career at North Texas, faces the most important 72 holes of his golfing life starting Thursday at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Broussard, after winning the Q School second stage at Deerwood in Humble, is one of 158 players who advanced to the final stage. He’ll be trying to earn full playing privileges on the 2016 Tour. By reaching the final state, Broussard is guaranteed at least conditional status.

PN-G ex Andrew Landry placed second at last year’s Tour school and took full advantage of the opportunity to earn a PGA Tour playing card for the 2015-16 season.

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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