Are you just starting to get into golf? Perhaps you’ve been playing for a while but still don’t know about all the equipment. You probably already know how much you can spend on a good set of clubs. Sometimes thousands per club. You’ll also have seen the variation in balls available, although these are thankfully a lot more affordable. But how are they made? And what are they made from? These are all important questions. Some amateur golfers go years without ever really thinking about it.
Understanding what golf balls are made from, why they are like they are, and how they are manufactured will help you know more about the game you enjoy. It could actually give you a better understanding that helps you play better. While that might be a long-shot, it’s still a good idea to know exactly what you’re using. In this article. we’re going to look at all these issues and more, so you can know as much about golf balls as possible.
What are golf balls made of?
Before we start to understand how golf balls are actually made, it’s a good idea to begin with understanding what they’re made from. The material of golf balls has changed a lot over the last couple of centuries. What goes into a golf ball today isn’t really the same as what went into one back in the 19th century. Gold has been around a long time, it’s one of the oldest sports going, so it stands to reason that some of the new technology available these days wasn’t around back then. That being said, the material used in golf balls has been established and constant for a couple of decades now. So what used to go into golf balls, and what goes into them now? Let’s have a look…
The very first golf balls were actually made from wood! That’s right, in the early days you would have been hitting a wooden ball with a wooden club. Every club was a “wood” back then. These early balls were made from beech or a selection of other hard woods.
Next in the evolution of golf balls was the feather ball. These balls were made from goose feathers stuffed into leather horse or cowhide then sewn up. The leather would shrink as it dried and would make a good-quality hard ball. However, it was an expensive process and made the balls quite costly. Not something you’d want to lose in a bush. Also, these balls weren’t very durable and would change shape when hit. This meant wooden balls continued to be popular even after the creation of these feather balls.
It took another two-hundred odd years until the next major advances were made in golf ball material. In the mid 19th century, golf balls began being made from tropical tree sap which was formed into a sphere when heated then allowed to cool and dry. These were much cheaper to make and could be imprinted by a hammer, making them fly much better in the air. Eventually, these sap balls could be made from molds and became even more affordable. These balls were also much more durable which meant they could be hit with iron clubs, leading to the modernization of the game as we know it today.
After these sap “guttie” balls came the next evolution in rubber. The next balls had solid rubber centers and were wrapped with rubber thread, and then covered in a sphere of gutta-percha. These balls took off in popularity as they made people’s shots go further and they were also easy to mass-produce. This ball was known as the “Haskell”. It has only been improved upon a bit by Spalding in the 1970s who developed a two-piece ball. Generally, players are still using the same technology today. Modern balls have dimples, which we’ll look into a bit more closely in a bit.
How are golf balls made?
Now you know what golf balls are made of, you probably want to know how they’re made. Manufacturing processes have changed a bit over the years as materials have changed. Making a feather-stuffed leather ball obviously isn’t the same process as a two-piece rubber construction.
Modern balls today are made quickly and easily on a production line. A spherical core of rubber (synthetic or otherwise) is coated with a hard layer. This is then placed in a mold and injected to form the dimpled coating. This ball will then be coated with gloss and then allowed to dry. You can also get three-piece and four-piece balls which are made similarly but with additional layers of coating of varying softness. This will vary depending on whether you want a ball that’s good for distance or accuracy.
Why do golf balls have dimples?
Dimples have been on golf balls for a number of years now. They help the balls’ flight by creating small areas of turbulence around the ball which creates less drag. That means a dimpled ball will have about half as much drag as one without. Dimples can also affect the lift of the ball.
Different types of golf balls available
Aside from two, three and four-piece balls, you can also get plastic practice balls that are only the shell of a ball. These can be hit freely at windows (normally) without breaking them, meaning you can practice in built-up areas.
How to find cheap golf balls
Golf balls aren’t that expensive to start with, especially when compared to the old days where they were hand made. However, if you want to find some cheaper ones. You could always go second-hand. Try going around your nearest golf course and picking up lost balls, you might need permission from the course for this. Alternatively, you can buy second-hand balls from the course shop. People lose balls quite a lot, so there’s no point losing your own expensive ones until your accuracy gets a bit better.