How golf balls are made and how the materials can affect your game.
A golf ball is much more complex than you may realize – from its core to its dimpled outer surface! Depending on the type of golf balls you select, it is possible to gain more driving distance or to obtain more control on the green. Some balls are better-suited for professional and experienced golfers and other balls can help inexperienced players learn the game.
Golf has been around for centuries, and golf balls were recorded as a regular Scottish import as far back as 1496. Back then, golf balls were made of wood and were not very aerodynamic! During the 18th century, the Dutch created kaatsen balls (hand tennis balls) made from white leather covers filled with cow hair; this inspired the Scots to create a similar ball – made from bull hide leather soaked in alum and feathers instead of cow hair – for golf. The golf balls were shaped and then painted white to make them more visible for players. They were about the same size and weight as modern golf balls, but unfortunately they had a tendency to get soggy and fall apart during wet weather!
The first rubber core golf balls came on the British golf scene in 1901. They were American inventions made with elastic cores encased in gutta percha (gum from a tree in Malaya) and elastic thread. The balls were an instant hit when Sandy Herd used one to win the 1902 British Open.
Dramatic design improvements have been made on modern golf balls. They travel straighter, roll further, and last longer than the original golf balls. Even the precise dimple patterns on a golf ball's surface serve an important purpose; patterns affect trajectory, spin, and control on the green. The weight and size of a golf ball is also significant; golf balls have a size limit of 1.68 diameters and can not weigh more than 1.62 ounces.
There are two main types of golf balls: spin and distance. Spin balls are made of rubber covered with a thin layer of urethane or synthetic balata material. The central core of many high spin golf balls is filled with liquid! These balls feel softer when hit, but they do not travel as far as distance balls. Spin balls are often called "multi layer" golf balls and are the popular choice of many touring professionals. Distance balls are either made completely of Surlyn or of a Surlyn blend (Surlyn is a very firm and durable material). Distance balls are considered two-piece balls with solid cores. The firmness of the core and cover of a distance ball make it very durable and able to travel longer distances. However, distance balls don't have much spin, so golfers cannot easily control the balls on the course. Distance golf balls are the popular choice of casual golfers who want to improve their driving skills.
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