Making his mark

Northern Ball Markers founder Dan Hase on the growing community seeking out unique golf accessories, and how he created a business with international reach from his North Tyneside workshop

Golfers spend hours playing the game, working on their swings and immersing themselves in golf. Their passion often extends further too – some follow tours and top pros or delve into the intricacies of instruction while others explore the history of the sport, travel to courses around the globe or seek out unique, independent brands to indulge their passion.

The number of independent golf brands in the UK is growing following the success of brands in the US. Small producers are turning out exquisite metalwork, customising alignment sticks, using exotic materials to craft custom putters and wedges, creating one-off headcovers, and so much more. For Dan Hase, this passion led to the creation of Northern Ball Markers.

“I’d played golf since my early 20s and I’d been a collector of golf accessories for a while,” he explains. “Seeing what brands were creating out in the US inspired me to explore if there was a market in the UK.

“I started out making ball markers as a hobby in late-2018, doing a few for friends and myself before the business gained some traction and things really got going in early 2019.”

Having started out with a simple set of metal stamps at home, Dan quickly progressed to using a laser to create his designs – removing all restrictions on his creativity.

“It’s been a three-year journey and I’ve still got a lot to learn,” says Dan. “I’ve taught myself how to use the design software, run the laser, and how to work with various materials. Each metal is very different, they age and tarnish differently and react to the laser and finishes in unique ways. The various processes, down to how you prepare the metal or finish the markers, help to create what I hope is a beautifully finished product that people are proud to show off to their playing partners.”

Carrying out the work himself, much of the finishing still done by hand, Dan is meticulous with everything he creates. “I like to see them finished exactly how I imagined and then packaged with a few extras and maybe a hand-written note to add to the experience when they arrive in the post,” he adds. “I’ve developed my techniques and processes to produce high quality products and I’m always looking to refine what I do and push myself to produce more creative and unique items. I take a lot of pride in receiving feedback from those golfers that have been supportive of the business.”

Based in North Shields, 35-year-old Dan produces custom one-off ball markers as well as small batches of limited-edition designs. His limited-edition releases have included designs inspired by hallowe’en, Remembrance Sunday, lateral flow tests, TV shows Tiger King and Squid Game, and major championships including sandwich-shaped markers ahead of 2021’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s, Sandwich, Kent.

“When it comes to custom designs, I’ve seen a lot. Some people choose important dates or their children’s names, while I’ve done markers for sportspeople with nods to their record-breaking achievements,” adds Dan.

“The inspiration for the limited-edition releases comes from lots of different places. The major championship-themed releases have been popular and I’m always on the lookout for a new spark – whether it’s a TV show or something happening in the world. I’ve got some very passionate collectors and keeping them engaged in what I’m doing is an important part of the business.

“While some will spend their money on a green fee or a night out, others will buy a ball marker they’ll cherish for years to come. There’s a growing market of golfers who are passionate about this aspect of the game and want to support independent creators, and I work hard to reflect that same passion in everything I do.”

Northern Ball Markers has grown rapidly since late-2018 with Dan amassing thousands of social media followers and building a catalogue of work which is in the hands of golfers in every corner of the planet. Having built the brand slowly as a side business, he went full-time in January 2020.

“The first steps were pretty slow and steady as I learned about what I was doing and grew the brand. I was also working full-time when I started, which allowed me to let things grow organically.

“One of the best things has been getting to know some of my customers and to still have them onboard today, buying products and supporting everything I do, is amazing. I’ve built relationships with guys out in South Africa and the US as well as across the UK. I’ve also sent markers to Mexico, most of Europe and even South Korea, which blows my mind.

“It’s had its challenges though. The first six months of 2020 were tough, but I found my feet and have really enjoyed developing my own skillset alongside the business. It’s a lot of fun seeing ideas come to fruition, being able to deliver exciting projects, and working on new areas of the business.”

While Dan has continued to produce custom markers along with his limited-edition releases and orders from several golf clubs, he has also branched out into other areas – creating clothing and headwear, towels, headcovers and tees to service his growing number of dedicated followers and allow them to show their appreciation for the brand.

“There are always projects and ideas on the go,” he says. “I never wanted to have a business that sat on stock and didn’t launch anything new for six months, I want to keep things fresh and exciting. Being my own boss allows me to come up with ideas and launch them quickly, but there’s also a lot of satisfaction in developing an idea over a long time. A few ideas have been in my sketchbook for a couple of years and they are just waiting for the right time to be created and released.

“Getting products into people’s hands and hearing their feedback has been great. I still get a big kick from seeing one of my tees on a tee box or someone wearing a Northern Ball Markers hat – I don’t think that buzz is ever going to go away.”

As well as offering him a chance to work on something he’s passionate about, launching his own business has also given Dan the chance to work flexibly and spend more time with his young sons. He’s also had the support of his wife, friends, and extended family over the last three years. “Working around family life is great,” he adds. “I’m around a lot more to experience the boys growing up, which is something I feel grateful for. I’ll do the nursery run, spend a few hours in the workshop, then spend the afternoon with the family before putting the boys to bed and catching up on some more work.

“The support I’ve had from all my family has been amazing too. My wife and mother-in law help me with packing up orders in busy periods. My mum supports me with admin tasks and my dad, who isn’t a golfer, is a big fan of the business, collecting most of my products. He is always asking me for pictures of future releases and wanting to find out what I’m working on. All the family have lent a hand at some point in the last three years, which is a huge help when running a small business.”

As well as his sketchbook full of ideas, Dan has exciting plans for the development of the business in 2022, including hosting his first golf day at Woolley Park in Wakefield. “The community of golfers who are supporting independent brands and collecting unique accessories is incredibly passionate. I’ve also built good relationships with some of the guys running other UK-based brands and we support each other quite a bit. We’re all facing the same challenges and sharing our experiences is really important.

“The golf day will be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to meeting some of my customers and people I’ve built friendships with from across the industry.

“As for development, I’ve got some exciting plans for my own products and some very special limited- edition markers coming up as I push the limits of what I can do with the laser and the materials. I’ve also been working on some collaborations and getting those off the ground will be exciting.

“Golf’s culture is changing all the time – just look at how many people are wearing hoodies on the course and how many brands are catering for the demand. I’m incredibly passionate about creating things which spark conversation on the golf course and on social media. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the game and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.”

It’s been a whirlwind three years for Dan and having heard just some of his ideas for the future, we can’t wait to see what he creates in the months and years ahead.

To see some of Dan’s work, follow @northernballmarkers on Instagram and Facebook, and visit