Golf balls can sustain high-velocity impacts and deliver the same precise result every time. I was curious about the materials used to make these objects and found that manufacturers use advanced technology and materials to create performing golf balls.
What are golf balls made of? To answer the question succinctly, manufacturers use plastic and rubber to make golf balls. Most golf balls have a rubber core protected by a plastic cover. However, materials and designs vary.
You can find two-piece, three-piece, and even four-piece balls with different core elements. Some balls have a solid rubber core while others use a liquid core encapsulated inside of different layers of rubber. The techniques and materials used to manufacture performing golf balls and to always improve these products are fascinating.
It’s also interesting to look at how golf balls have evolved over the centuries. The materials used affect the performance and understand how manufacturers select the materials will help you choose the right balls for your level and style of play. I never suspected that a golf ball would be such an advanced object due to its small size.
What Is The Purpose
Of The Different Components Of A Golf Ball?
A simple two-piece golf ball has two components. The core is the largest part of the ball, and the outer portion of the ball is the cover. The purpose of the cover is to protect the integrity of the core.
The cover of the ball also generates friction and spin when you use an iron or wedge to hit the ball. The cover mainly protects the integrity of the ball when you use a driver for a long shot and doesn’t significantly affect performance during long shots.
The core of a golf ball has a huge impact on speed and distance because it makes up most of the ball’s weight. The density and physical properties of the core also determine how the ball absorbs the impact and how it distributes energy. The core determines how the ball launches, what its trajectory is, and also impacts spin. You will see a significant difference between different core materials when using a driver.
Three-piece and four-piece golf balls contain additional layers between the core and cover. These layers change how the core absorbs the shock and can help with velocity or distance.
These balls typically have a soft urethane cover so that the mid-layers can absorb most of the shock from the swing. This design will give you more spin on all your shots instead of limiting spin to your long shots. The Kirkland Signature Four-Piece golf balls are an excellent example of this design with their soft urethane cover.
Using additional layers between the core and cover is a relatively new trend in the world of golf. Professionals tend to prefer these balls because they allow for better control and deliver more precise results.
Why Do The Materials Of A Golf Ball Matter?
The golf balls you use on the green are a crucial element of your game. You can play with a high-quality set of clubs and have an excellent technique but still have a handicap if you use golf balls with a design that negatively impact speed or distance.
The materials and their characteristics might not be important if you are new to the game. You won’t see a significant difference between different ball designs and materials until you develop a good technique to hit the ball.
However, you will notice that the balls you use impact your game and performance once you play at an advanced level. Titleist spent more than a decade developing its signature soft urethane cover. This process of trials and errors allowed the manufacturer to develop a material that has a noticeable impact on performance.
What are golf balls made of? We already mentioned rubber and plastic. The purpose of rubber is to absorb the shock when you hit the ball. Most manufacturers use butadiene rubber because of the way this material springs back into shape when deformation occurs.
Golf ball manufacturers typically use ionomeric resins or urethane for the cover. The purpose of the cover is to compress the inside of the ball. Compressed rubber is more responsive. This responsiveness is what makes the ball travel further and faster when you hit it.
What Is The Coating Of A Golf Ball Made Of?
The last step of the manufacturing process of a golf ball typically consists of applying a thin layer of coating or paint on the surface of the ball. I used to think that coating and paint were added for purely aesthetic purposes but found that these materials play a very important role.
The coating of a golf ball can affect its performance. Manufacturers pay a lot of attention to this component and have been developing new techniques to spray coating in a layer that is as thin as possible.
The properties of the coating and the application technique used are very important because there are dimples on the surface of a golf ball. The coating can form thick layers inside of the dimples and reduce their effectiveness.
Most manufacturers use water-based coatings. Options include acrylic or urethane polyol and aqueous resins. Water-based coatings form a thin layer on the surface of the ball and don’t pool inside of the dimples. Some manufacturers use UV rays to cure the coating and make it more durable. Manufacturers often add a logo with paint that shares the properties of the coating used.
The purpose of the coating is to protect the ball from scratches and damages. The coating needs to be resistant enough to protect the cover without being thick enough to affect performance. The coating also needs to sustain high impacts without chipping.
What Happens When You Hit A Golf Ball?
This video of a golf ball hit in slow motion is a great way to better understand how the rubber core works. Seeing the impact in slow motion is impressive and makes you realize how advanced the technology behind these objects actually is.
Manufacturers use slow-motion footage and other methods to test golf balls and understand how materials perform.
The slow-motion impact shows how much of a shock the ball absorbs. You can see the deformation of the ball and how quickly it springs back into shape and it launches forward. The ball can absorb the impact and gain its shape back thanks to the rubber core.
It’s easy to see how the density and other properties of the rubber core affect how the ball absorbs the impact and launches. Some balls use additional rubber layers to maintain pressure on the core and have the ball gain its shape back even faster.
The slow-motion footage also illustrates the importance of the cover. The cover maintains the integrity of the rubber core and canalizes the ball getting its shape back and launching forward.
A liquid core can absorb the shock and let you control the ball, even if your swing isn’t perfect. On the other hand, a dense core will be less forgiving because the ball will launch with more speed and power.
How Do Materials Affect Performance?
The materials chosen to manufacture a golf ball have a huge impact on its performance and on whether or not the ball is a good match for your level and style of play.
A golf ball designed for distance will typically have a surlyn cover. This material feels hard when compared to urethane. It’s more difficult to control or spin, but your distance will improve.
Surlyn provides a rigid cover that helps the golf ball spring back into shape more quickly and with more power when you hit it. On the other hand, a soft urethane cover is going to help the ball absorb the impact and will give you more control.
A golf ball with a soft center will have a high energy transfer when it absorbs the impact. You will get a soft feel when you hit the ball and will get more distance.
This design can make a difference if you have a slow swing speed. The Wilson Sporting Goods Smart Core golf ball is a great example of this design and an excellent choice if you have a slow swing speed.
If you have a fast swing speed and some experience with playing golf, the core of the ball you use will have a small impact on your performance. The best core depends on what you prefer to use and on how the different balls feel to you.
There used to be a very noticeable difference between golf balls that used surlyn and urethane covers. However, innovations in core technology and the use of multiple layers have significantly reduced this difference.
If you aren’t an experienced player, you might not be able to tell the difference between two golf balls that respectively have a surlyn and soft urethane cover. You can use a ball with a surlyn cover and still get good control thanks to the core design.
Because differences aren’t as prominent as they used to be, it’s important to test different products and materials. Golfers typically develop a preference for a brand or design as they test different balls.
How Do Materials Affect Prices?
Prices can vary a lot between different golf balls. The materials used are going to impact how much a product costs.
Balls with multiple layers tend to cost more. However, it’s easy to find affordable products that use high-quality materials and deliver excellent performance. There might not be any needs to invest in expansive golf balls until you gain more experience with the game.
You can get a dozen high-quality golf balls for under $20. The Callaway Supersoft golf balls feature a tri-onomer cover that delivers optimal spin and control.
If you are interested in four-piece golf balls, the Titleist Pro V1 is an older product that only costs $40 for a dozen of golf balls. Professional golfers typically use the products with the latest technology available, but these golf balls are only a few years old and would be a great choice if you are a beginner. The dual-core design delivers an excellent performance in terms of speed and distance.
It’s possible to spend more to get high-end golf balls or to get the newest edition of a product. However, we find that a dozen golf balls typically costs between $20 and $40. The most affordable golf balls tend to have a simpler design while balls in the $40 ranges have more layers.
A Brief History Of Golf Balls
Rubber and plastic weren’t always part of the manufacturing process behind golf balls. The history of how golf balls evolved is fascinating and reflects how much golfing has changed throughout the century. I didn’t realize how old golf was or how much the sport changed until I started researching golf balls.
The game dates back to the early 15th century. Golfers would use wooden clubs and wooden balls. The game was very different from what it is today.
As the game grew in popularity, golfers adopted feathery balls. Historians have found evidence of these balls originating during the 17th century.
The materials used to make feathery balls included cowhide and goose feathers. Makers would sew a wet cowhide to form a ball and stuff it with goose feathers. The ball would shrink as the cowhide dried. This early design compressed the core of the ball in a similar fashion to how modern golf ball covers act.
The tension on the core of the golf ball transformed the game. It’s an interesting innovation because it allowed golfers to drive the ball further and faster and laid the foundation for what the game would become.
However, there were some drawbacks to using these materials. It was very difficult to sew cowhide and achieve a perfectly round shape. These early golf balls weren’t very durable and would often break during games.
Humidity was also detrimental to the materials used and players had to replace the balls regularly. The cost was another issue since an entire bucket of goose feathers was needed to make a single ball and makers had to put in several hours of work into making each ball.
The next innovation in golf ball design appeared during the middle of the 19th century with the Gutta Percha ball. This step is very significant in the history of golf because it made golf balls more affordable.
Gutta Percha is a natural latex substance, also known as a thermoplastic. Some trees that grow in Malaysia naturally produce it. It’s possible to extract this substance and to create a golf ball with a core that is somewhat similar to the rubber cores used today.
Gutta Percha made golf balls more affordable and accessible, which meant that more people could afford to play golf. The properties of the natural latex used also changed how golfers could play.
While the feathery ball used compression to drive the ball forward, the Gutta Percha ball responded in a way that is similar to modern golf balls. Players also found that balls performed better if slight damage to the surface occurred. Adding dimples to these Gutta Percha soon became a common practice.
Makers introduced rubber towards the end of the 19th century. The first balls to use rubber contained a mixture of rubber and natural latex. These golf balls typically had a Gutta Percha cover and a rubber core.
Rubber eventually replaced Gutta Percha, along with Balata. Balata is another natural thermoplastic produced by a tree.
The evolution of golf balls and the materials used to make them is fascinating. The discovery of new materials made golf more accessible and changed the way golfers play. It’s interesting to look back on how the use of different materials has shaped the game over the centuries.
Why Do Golf Balls Have Dimples?
Did you know that a golf ball has between 300 and 500 dimples? The number and depth of the dimples are crucial for trajectory and distance.
Most balls have spherical dimples, but you can find products that use different shapes. For instance, the Gallaway HX golf balls feature an original design with hexagonal dimples.
The dimples of a golf ball affect airflow around the ball. They cause air to form a layer around the ball, which means that the ball isn’t in direct contact with the airflow around it.
This layer reduces the size of the wake of turbulence behind the golf ball. A larger wake would create drag and slow the ball down. The dimples help improve speed and distance.
The dimples also impact the trajectory of the ball by lifting it. You know that spin is important if you want the ball to have an upward trajectory and go further. The dimples shape how the lift force applies to the ball.
The number, depth, and shape of the dimples have a crucial impact on how a ball performs. Even a slight difference in dimple depth can change how far a ball can go.
What Are The Legal Requirements For Golf Balls?
What are golf balls made of in official tournaments? Golfers have to use golf balls that are compatible with official requirements when playing in tournaments and other professional settings.
There are no requirements or restrictions regarding the materials used. However, the golf balls you use have to meet some specific requirements when it comes to size, weight, and performance.
There are no regulations that apply to materials, but there are several rules that apply to performance, such as the spin rate of a ball. These regulations mean that manufacturers can innovate with different materials but that the balls still need to perform within specific parameters.
You can use many different designs in competitive settings, including two-piece and three-piece balls. You can use golf balls with different types of centers, multiple layers, and different cover designs.
There are a few rules to keep in mind when choosing golf balls you will use in an official setting:
Most golf balls sold by major brands meet all these requirements. If a ball isn’t suitable for use in an official setting, you will easily find this information on the packaging.
It’s best to practice and progress with golf balls that meet these official requirements. Practicing with non-compliant golf balls means you will have to get used to a product that has a very different feel so you can compete in tournaments.
New Trends In Golf Ball Design
Manufacturers are always looking for ways to improve their design process and release new iterations of their products on a regular basis. All the major golf equipment manufacturers use advanced testing techniques to develop better products.
The technology available to manufacturers is more advanced than ever before. Golf equipment manufacturers can use software to simulate how different materials and designs will impact performance. They can also use advanced equipment to capture a ball’s response and performance during tests.
There are a lot of interesting new trends in the world of golf equipment. Nanotechnology is one of them. Some manufacturers use nanoparticles for the coatings they apply to their products. Working on a molecular level allows manufacturers to develop coatings and paints that are thinner and to have more control over how these products cling to the surface of the golf balls.
Customization is another major trend shaping the world of golf. Manufacturers focus on developing products adapted to the unique preferences and style of play of different golfers.
You can visit specialized stores and get fitted for customized equipment. Manufacturers also develop products based on the preferences and performance of well-known athletes.
The use of new materials such as carbon fiber is also changing the way makers produce golf balls. Using carbon fiber and other lightweight materials allow manufacturers to use different layers that would otherwise add too much weight to the ball.
You will also find that golf equipment brands tend to extend their catalog by offering different series and products designed for different types of players. Most brands have golf balls designed for women or adapted to golfers with slow swing speed. You can typically find series designed for speed or opt for balls optimized for spin and control.
These new trends make advanced technology and materials more accessible than ever before. Golfers tend to have a much better understanding of how equipment and materials affect their performance, even if they are new to the game.
How Can You Choose The Right
Golf Balls For Your Level And Style Of Play?
You might be wondering how to figure out which ball is right for you after finding out about the many different options and materials available. The good news is that you can’t go wrong with a product from a well-known brand.
Pricing is an important factor when choosing golf balls. Ask yourself how often you will play and how likely you are to lose balls.
We recommend that you choose a product that meets official requirements for competitions. You will be able to get used to the feel and performance of a ball that you can keep using once you are ready to participate in official events.
A golf ball with a soft core such as a liquid material can be a good choice if you are new to the game. Modern designs and materials mean that you won’t lose any speed in spite of the liquid core of the ball. However, this liquid core will give you more control and help you develop a style of play with a strong emphasis on precision.
If you are a more experienced player with good swing speed, we recommend that you consider a ball with a rubber core and a multi-layer design. These golf balls deliver excellent performance and you will get the most out of your advanced swing technique with these products.
If you are hesitating between a two-piece ball and a more complex design, keep in mind that this feature will impact the price. A two-piece ball is an excellent choice if you are a beginner. You probably won’t see a significant difference in your performance until you gain more experience.
Golf ball manufacturers typically offer apps or online tools you can use to figure out which products are a good match for you. You can also visit a specialized sporting goods store to get fitted for golfing equipment, including balls.
Most players like to try different things and see what feels right. Golf balls are truly fascinating objects and it would be interesting to gain experience with different designs and materials and see how these balls impact your game. You should also stay up to date with new trends and product releases since makers introduce new materials and designs regularly.