Deadly fire decimates Taiwanese golf ball factory killing nine

Producing balls for at least five major golf brands, the factory fire is poised to have a big impact on the golf ball market.

Golf Balls
Golf Balls

Nine people, including four firefighters, have been confirmed dead after a fire broke out in a golf ball factory last Friday in Taipei, Taiwan.

The factory that manufactured golf balls for Launch Technologies Inc. contributed roughly 260 million golf balls to the market, which equates to roughly 1/5 of all the golf balls manufactured globally on an annual basis. 

The cause of the fire is unknown; however, according to CTV news, Launch Technologies Inc. was fined $75,000 on Monday by Taiwanese officials for housing 3,000 tonnes of organic peroxides, nearly 30 times more than the legal limit of 100 tonnes of hazardous material that is allowed to be kept on site.

The fire is expected to have a large knock-on effect on the golf ball market, with Launch Technologies Inc. manufacturing golf balls for a number of major OEMs (Original equipment manufacturers), including Callaway, TaylorMade, Wilson, Mizuno, and Bridgestone

In a statement issued by Callaway, it said:

“We are aware of the fire that occurred on Friday at the Pingtung City golf ball factory and are working directly with Launch Technologies and local authorities to gather more information. Our thoughts are with all the first responders, employees, and families of those who have been affected.”

Revealing the extent of disruption to the golf ball market, Seed Golf founder and CEO, Dean Klatt, wrote in an email to Golf Digest:

“Whatever LT inventory we OEMs have on hand or on the water [being shipped] is all we'll have for quite a while. Moving manufacture is not easy in this case. Tooling (i.e. dimple patterns) will have most likely been destroyed, so it's a complete rebuild at a new plant with many unknowns.
"Dimple tooling is expensive, and that set-up takes time, then there's the quality control issues to consider once you get to production phase at a new plant. At best, I would say six months to reestablish supply elsewhere.”

While the impact of this fire will be felt throughout the golf industry, the loss of life is the real tragedy, and with a further 600 jobs now also at risk, the local community of Taipei could be feeling the effects of this fire for years to come.


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