What Is A Golf Ball Made Of? A History To What’s Inside
Every golfer, at one point or another, gets curious and wants to know what a golf ball is made of. “It’s just a plastic cover with a rubber inside”… not exactly. For me, I’d like to know what materials are inside the ball and what key features affect the shape of a shot. “Sir, this ball will fly straighter and go further – you’ll hit more fairways and stay out of the rough” I’m sold!
There’s a reason why big-name brands charge an arm and a leg for their golf balls. It’s because they can change up the golf ball’s material and key features (like dimples) through different manufacturing processes to get the exact ball movements you want in your shot. Regardless of skill level, every golfer should understand what materials and features affect a ball’s flight. First, let’s start with a brief history of the ball…
Wooden Golf Ball
These were the first golf balls to be used in the 14th century. They were made out of hard woods like beech and boxwood. Every wooden golf ball was different in shape, which led to inconsistent shots from one ball to the next. These balls were used up until the 17th century then came the feathery balls.
Feathery Golf Ball
This ball was basically the first real ball and was made of leather and filled with boiled goose feathers, stitched up, and painted. The ball was expensive, and only the wealthy could afford it. When compared to the wooden 14th-century ball, the feathery ball had better-shot predictability.
Gutty Golf Ball
In 1848, golf balls made of gutta-percha were invented by Dr. Robert Adams. The balls were made by taking the sapodilla tree dry sap, heating it then shaping it into a circle. The gutty was more affordable and durable. The first gutty balls were handmade, smooth, and used three coats of paint. When these balls hit surfaces for a long time and became irregular, they flew further than the smooth ones. This led to a new era of hammered gutty balls. Using a sharp-edged hammer, the balls were hammered using a consistent pattern. That’s how dimples were formed, and the paint used was reduced to two coats.
The brambleberry design soon took over, and this one didn’t need hammering because it created regular patterns on its surface. It also allowed the low-income golfer to play because it was affordable.
Rubber Core Golf Ball
In 1898, rubber core golf balls were invented by the BF Goodrich company. This was lighter, and its designs were suitable for the free air flow. By 1930, it had taken over the market, with the spherical dimple becoming the main golf ball.
What Is A Golf Ball Made Of Now?
There are different types of golf balls depending on the number of layers. There are one-piece balls, two-piece, three-piece, four-piece, and five-piece balls. A golf ball is basically made of rubber, which is the core, and plastic or urethane with dimples that make the ball’s cover. However, a solid multi-layered golf ball has a core, mantle layer, and cover layer.
The core of the golf ball is the center of the ball. In the past, it used to be liquid-based, but nowadays, it is made up of synthetic rubber mixed with polymers. This is because rubber provides elasticity, which manufacturers are looking for to create a perfect core. Thanks to elasticity, once the club hits the ball, it can return to its natural state. The ball’s core is the most important part because it determines how effective the ball will be.
Not every golf ball has a mantle layer, but for the ones that do, the mantle layer consists of a thermoplastic polyurethane material. But before plastic-made mantles, mantles were made of large rubber bands. This was to help reduce the amount of spin from the core and give the user control.
The cover must be stiff to withstand the energy generated and allow the ball to fly long distances. The preferred materials, therefore, are urethane. The cover should not be too thick because it might crack after some time. Surlyn is best for three-piece golf balls as it allows more spins for greater control, and urethane can be molded thinly, making the ball fly at a high speed. These two materials provide protection to the ball from potential hits
What is your favorite golf ball, and why?