Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.
Have you started playing golf and want to know what golf balls are made of? Maybe you have been playing for years and realized you don’t know what the balls are made of?
Or are you curious and want to know more? No matter what the reason is that brought you here, we have the answers for you!
Knowing what golf balls are made of can be tricky. After all, these hard balls can be a little hard to describe. And as they are so different from other sports balls, we often find ourselves wondering what they are made of.
But with so many contradicting answers online, we can easily find ourselves frustrated and overwhelmed, unsure if we will ever know what golf balls are made of.
Well, no more! Today, we are here with the answers you need. Keep reading to find out what golf balls are made of and everything you need to know about the material used to create golf balls!
What Are Golf Balls Made Of?
Let’s get straight into it! Golf balls are made with butadiene rubber in their center, with rubber mantles surrounding them (usually more than one), and a tough skin covering it all.
The outer layers tend to be made with ionomer resins (high-performance ethylene copolymer blends) that harden through ionic crosslinking between negatively charged acid groups and positively charged metal salts, giving it the hard surface we see on golf balls.
Dimples are added to the outer surface of the ball, to give it a pitted coating. This impacts the performance of the ball, mainly how it rolls and feels when it’s hit by a club.
Dimples are also added to help reduce the ball’s drag when it flies through the air. The size of these dimples varies from brand to brand, as a way to adjust the performance of the balls.
The use of ionomer resins is one of the most popular designs of golf balls, as it creates a ball with hardcore and compressible outside.
This technology and method for creating golf balls were created by DuPont, whose technology is now used by Nike under the name Speedlock RZN.
Golf balls these days are also made with other polymers, like neodymium polybutadiene rubber, which is added to the core of the ball.
This polymer converts impact energy into kinetic energy, which can increase the flying distance of the ball.
While this is what golf balls are made of now, they weren’t always made with these materials, and you could still find golf balls that are made with more traditional materials.
So let’s step back in time to see what golf balls were previously made of to help you learn more about them.
History Of Golf Balls
When golf was invented in Scotland in the fifteenth century, the sport was played using wooden clubs and balls made with local hardwoods, like beech.
It wasn’t until 1618 that gold ball technology took off. Balls were made with a featherie. This was a leather pouch stuffed with boiled feathers from geese or chickens.
The pouch and feathers started as wet, before drying. As the leather dries, it shrinks, creating a tightly packed ball used with golf clubs!
The process of this was detailed in Thomas Mathison’s 1748 poem, The Goff.
The featherie remained the predominantly used ball until 1848 when the gutty appeared. This ball was made with coagulated latex taken from Palaquium gutta, a fruit found in Yucatan.
The fruit was heated in water and rolled into a sphere, creating a practically indestructible ball!
The creation of the gutty is widely attributed to Robert Adams Paterson, who was a divinity student at St Andrews University in Scotland.
The gutty remained in circulation until industrialization became popular during the late 1800s.
At this time, companies could produce rubber balls from molds, speeding up the process and allowing them to make more balls than before!
B.F. Goodrich introduced the first ball with rubber threads around a natural rubber core in 1898, at his tire and rubber production factory.
The rubber center was enclosed in a gutta-percha sphere, retaining the ball’s hard outer surface.
This wound ball went through several incarnations before the gutta-percha was replaced with a balata.
This natural rubber is taken from trees found in South America and has been widely used throughout most of the early 20th century.
It was common to find both the gutta-percha and balata balls to be used by pro and amateur golfers across the globe throughout this time.
This brings us nicely up to speed, as after this point, the balls we know and use started being produced!
Why Is Rubber Used In Golf Balls?
Rubber is used in the inner core of golf balls and other synthetic polymers to give them better aerodynamics.
The goal of a golf ball is to travel through the air and land in a hole. Often, these holes are far away from where the ball is being hit, so they need to travel great distances through the air.
Rubber is used to help them fly through the air further and faster. It also helps with spin ratios, so that golfers get a good hit and spin when they whack the ball with their club.
The combination of rubber and the dimples on the outer shell will help the golf ball move through the air. Some balls will travel further depending on the density of the rubber used.
Many gold ball manufacturers have experimented with this over the years, so you are sure to find a ball that will travel the distances you want (provided you hit it correctly).
And there you have it, golf balls are made of rubber, rubber mantles made with polymers, and a hard outer shell that is covered with dimples.
The golf ball has evolved over the centuries and you can now enjoy a hard ball that will travel easily through the air, and hopefully land close to, or in the hole!