Golf clubs are usually at the top of the equipment list for many golfers. Golf balls compete for the second spot with other equipment like shoes, gloves, bags, etc. All golfers should know that a golf ball can affect flight, travel distance and how much control a player has over a ball’s trajectory. So, it is crucial to know what your golf ball is made up of.
Are golf balls hollow? Golf balls are solid throughout. Different golf balls are made from various materials and have multiple layers or pieces at the center. The manufacturer determines the materials inside the ball and the overall technology. This enables each company to set their product in the market.
It might not be necessary for an amateur or beginner golfer to understand the science or technology behind the golf ball. However, as a pro or advanced player, having this knowledge can help improve your game.
Golf is a game of Scottish origin that started in the 1400s meaning the golf ball has had about 600 years of evolution. There are various types of golf balls, but where did it all start?
1. Wooden Golf Balls
As the name suggests, wooden golf balls were made from wood. Research states that these early balls were made from hardwood such as Beech or Boxroot. Wooden golf balls were used with wooden golf clubs until the seventeenth century.
2. Feathery Golf Balls
Also known as the feathery, this ball was made with leather and goose feathers. The leather was made from cowhides, and the small sack was filled with boiled goose feathers. The leather sack was then sawn shut and painted.
The feathery golf ball had to be made when both materials, feathers, and leather, were wet. When left to cool, the leather would shrink, and the feathers would expand, creating a hard, compact ball. This ball was used for about three centuries after the wooden golf balls because it had better flight qualities.
3. Gutty Golf Balls
The gutty golf ball was made from dried sap from the Sapodilla tree. The sap, which had a rubbery feel, would be heated up and molded into ball shapes while hot. The gutty was affordable, durable, and readily available to the masses.
After a while, it was discovered that old gutty balls would perform better than new ones because they were no longer in a perfect spherical shape. This discovery led to manufacturers hitting the new gutty balls with a hammer to create an improper but smooth surface.
The hammering was done in a consistent pattern and led to what we now know as dimples being incorporated into the modern golf balls we have today.
4. Haskell or Rubber Core Golf Balls
The rubber core golf ball replaced the gutty in 1899 but became successful after Walter Travis won the U.S amateur golf championship playing with one. The Haskell golf ball had a rubber core wrapped in high-tension rubber thread covered with a Gutta Percha.
This led to more creative designs, especially on the golf ball cover. Later, there were rubber core golf balls with mesh, reverse mesh, and bramble cover designs. These cover designs led to the first dimple pattern design on modern golf balls in 1908.
What is Inside Golf Balls Today?
Golf ball designs have improved significantly over the years. While there are new dimple pattern designs, the interior of the golf ball has also seen improvement. As mentioned earlier, the materials used to make the exterior and interior of a golf ball will differ per manufacturer.
This section will look at the different types of balls and their components.
1. One-Piece Ball
One-piece golf balls are also known as range balls. They are cheaper to produce compared to others because they are made from a single piece of Surylin plastic. These balls are only used on the driving range, mainly for practice.
2. Two-Piece Ball
This is also another ball that you will find on the range. Many golfers also use the two-piece ball for warmups, but you can use this ball to play around as well. Two-piece balls have a rubber core wrapped in plastic. They are known to give players more distance and are harder than golf balls with more layers or pieces.
3. Three-Piece Golf Balls
Three-piece golf balls are popular among amateur players because they give a mix of performance. These golf balls can have solid or liquid cores, but those with liquid cores are not popular anymore. There was a popular myth that golf balls with liquid cores were dangerous, but this is not the case.
Titleist, a popular golf ball manufacturer, made three-piece golf balls with a liquid core made from corn syrup and salty water. Today, many three-piece golf balls have a solid rubber core wrapped in a thinner layer of rubber and a cover. They are much softer than two-piece balls and have more spin.
4. Four-Piece Golf Balls
The four-piece golf ball is an improvement of the three-piece ball. It also has a solid rubber core but adds an extra thin layer of rubber on the ball to transfer energy to the hot core. In addition, the ball cover has an extra thin layer to provide a soft feel. The best example of a four-piece golf ball is the Titleist Pro V1x.
5. Five-Piece Golf Balls
Manufacturers went the extra mile on the five-piece golf ball. This ball has three thin layers between a large rubber core and a thin plastic cover. Like the four-piece ball, the five-piece ball is also popular among pro players because it offers the best performance. Examples of five-piece golf balls include the TaylorMade TP5 and TP5x.
6. Six-Piece Golf Balls
The six-piece golf balls are different because they have a soft rubber core, and each layer after is firmer than the last. The cover, however, is thin and soft. A good example is the Honma Future XX.
From the above list, you can tell that the more the number of pieces in a golf ball, the better the performance and functionality of the ball. Since pro players use golf balls with four pieces or higher, these balls are automatically classified as high-end golf balls and cost more than their counterparts.