Ever wondered what a golf ball is made of? A typical ball feels like rubber but doesn’t have the same compression as common rubber. That’s because golf balls are made in multiple layers with multiple materials.
What is a golf ball made of? A golf ball is made of rubber, synthetic rubber, polyurethane, and ionomers. Sometimes Zinc and titanium are added to some layers. Each material has a very specific purpose in golf ball design, and most top manufacturers have their own proprietary ionomers and synthetic materials.
In this article, you will learn about the different materials used in golf balls alongside the design aspects that make golf balls behave the way they do.
By the end of this post, you’ll have enough understanding to judge potential purchases by their material and layers, and even determine the best ball in golf for your game.
What Materials Are In A Golf Ball?
Golf balls have different materials in different layers. Almost all balls used on golf courses today have a cover, mantel, and core made of at least three materials. Since most professional games allow “rubber-like” balls, there are almost infinite ways to make a tour-ready ball.
The core’s role is to either absorb part of the impact or translate it to motion. The softer a golf ball’s core, the more it compresses. High compression leads to lower flights and higher distances, but distance isn’t exactly an asset at every point in the course.
Some golf balls are designed to have low compression, while others have high compression. And the main difference between such balls is the material at their core.
Core materials in a golf ball include:
- Rubber – Not used before often in the core, dense genuine rubber can be a part of a ball’s core.
- Polybutadiene – This rubber-like material is easier to formulate in different densities, so manufacturers prefer it for its broad compression range.
- Synthetic Rubber – A common core material is synthetic rubber, which can also be made to provide different levels of compression.
- Polyurethane – While it is never the sole core material in golf balls, some balls have it in their core. It creates a softer feel and, more importantly, lower compression.
- Zinc – When Zinc is usually present in the mantle but can sometimes be in the core as well. It accentuates a ball’s spin and flight.
- Titanium – Titanium’s role in a golf ball’s core is to add distance to the shot. The material doesn’t absorb impact very well, so the force of your strike is offset with distance. It isn’t too dense, so it can also be used to make larger ball cores.
Where the core affects the compression of a ball, the mantle impacts the ball’s weight and density. The mantle is the second layer of the ball and is located beneath the cover. The material choice of a ball’s mantle affects how the ball feels, spins, and moves.
Golf ball mantle materials Include:
- Ionomer – This is a plastic material most often used in standard golf balls. It minimizes spin on full shots and has a penetrating ball flight. Golf balls with Inomoer have a soft feel.
- Urethane – Urethane mantles are excellent for short games because the material has excellent spin control. Balls with Urethane in their mantle shine on the green.
- Surlyn – This material was originally trademarked by DuPont and is now owned by Dow. Golf balls with this trademarked Ionomer last much longer than their counterparts. Surlyn has similar penetrative flight as standard Ionomer mantle balls.
- HPF – High-Performance Fluoroelastomer is a proprietary golf ball mantle material used by some golf ball brands. The company that owns Surlyn also owns this material’s patent. Where Surlyn produces penetrative ball flight, HPF produces high speed and distance because of its elasticity.
- Zirconium – In some golf balls, the mantle includes Zirconium, a metal with high density. It extends the ball’s moment of inertia, leading to a stable ball flight.
The cover materials used in golf clubs are not very different than mantle materials. Sometimes, golf balls can have the same materials in their cover and mantle layers. Relisting them specifically would be redundant. So here’s a category round-up of cover materials.
Golf ball cover materials Include:
- Ionomers – These include proprietary materials like Surlyn alongside common ionomers. They are durable, cost-effective, and reduce spin in a golf ball.
- Thermoplastics – Thermoplastics are used when a ball is meant to have high speed upon impact. They are easier to customize, so manufacturers with superior engineering love to play with them.
- Urethane – This material’s presence in a ball cover is synonymous with high spin and greater control. You’ll even see “urethane” or its alternative name, “polyurethane,” on ball packages.
Having caught up on the different materials used in golf ball construction, you’re probably more confused than when you began. It’s easier to choose a golf ball when you know it’s made of rubber-like material. It’s a whole different thing when you know each material affects the ball differently.
One of the best ways to select a ball is to see what professionals are using…
What Golf Balls Are Used By Professionals?
Golf ball brands used by professionals are fairly reliable. And knowing about their materials can help you choose a specific ball that works well not just for a tour player but also for you.
Titleist Pro V1
This ball has multi-layer construction with a polybutadiene core and an ionomer mantle. Its cover is made from a material that only Titleist can use for its products. This cover material is a proprietary variation of thermoset urethane elastomer.
Pros who have used Titleist Pro V1:
- Rory McIlroy
- Justin Rose
- Webb Simpson
- Tony Finau
- Gary Woodland
Pro golfers seem to love this ball and its advanced 5-layer construction. Its core is made of polyurethane, and multiple mantles are made from standard Ionomer and HFM. Its cover material is cast Urethane.
Players who have used TaylorMade TP5:
- Dustin Johnson
- Rory McIlroy
- Collin Morikawa
- Jon Rahm
- Matthew Wolff
Callaway Chrome Soft
The ball is positioned as a unique construction featuring a SoftFast core. But the core is simply a very specific variation of polybutadiene. Its mantle features Ionomer, while its cover is made with Graphene (also proprietary).
Pros who have used Callaway Chrome Soft:
- Jon Rahm
- Patrick Reed
- Cameron Champ
- Maverick McNealy
- Matthew Wolff
Bridgestone Tour B XS
This 3-layer golf ball has a rubber and resin core made to have gradational compression. According to Bridgestone, the ball’s core is softer at the center and gets gradually tougher. Its mantle features a soft urethane material alongside a specific type of Ionomer.
The ball’s cover is made from a proprietary material called SlipRes and is advertised to improve spin control with enhanced friction.
Pros who have used Bridgestone Tour B XS:
- Fred Couples
- Matt Fitzpatrick
- Hudson Swafford
- Charley Hoffman
- Chez Reavie
Srixon Z-Star XV
This ball also has the average 3-layer construction but is far from being average. Its core is soft and large, made with Srixon’s proprietary technology.
Its core features rubber and synthetic matter, while its thin mantle is made from ionomers. The cover of this ball is made from Urethane.
Pros who have used Srixon Z-Star XV:
- Cameron Smith
- Ryan Palmer
- Ryo Ishikawa
- Anirban Lahiri
- Jhonattan Vegas
Key Takeaways from “What is a Golf Ball Made of?”
A golf ball is made of rubber or rubber-like material. Ionomers, Urethane, Zinc, Titanium, Synthetic Rubber, and other materials are used in various combinations across the three layers of a golf ball.
There are also golf balls that are made from a single material and have no mantle or cover, alongside ones that have single-piece construction.
Before you use a non-name-brand golf ball, get permission from your local golf course management.