Golf Balls – Expert Guide

Golf Balls – How small, round, dimpled balls have the power to change your game. In today’s game, golf balls have become super high-tech balls that claim to do everything but hit themselves! One popular golf ball claims ‘super long range and feel’, another ‘longer range, more spin and control’ and a third ‘ultimate distance and control’. Confused? We recommend choosing a golf ball based on the color of the box!

But wait! Playing the right golf ball for your game WILL improve your overall performance and enjoyment of the game. It’s just a matter of cutting rounds to find that ball.

To assist you in your search for the perfect golf ball, we will take you on a journey from the humble beginnings of the golf ball to the technologically advanced ball of today.

The Early Days

In general, the bigger the bag, the heavier it will be – although there is help from durable lightweight materials. Even though the lightest designs now weigh under 3lb, special waist and/or hip pads are available for comfort and can make a real difference

In the early days of golf, some 500 years ago, players used primitive equipment to play the game in a rather haphazard and relaxed manner. The golf ball has undergone many upgrades and refinements throughout its long life, with several distinct stages:

Wood – Used from the mid-15th century, the first golf balls were made of hardwoods such as beech. Often used in conjunction with a wooden stick, a round of golf can be a very jarring experience.

Featherie – In 1618, the Featherie golf ball was invented and used for almost 250 years. These balls are made by inserting wet goose down into a hand-sewn wet leather ball. When dried, the skin shrinks and the fur expands creating a hard, dense ball. This time-consuming process ensures prices are out of reach of the masses, often selling for more than club prices.

Guttie – Rev Dr Robert Adams Paterson invented the first golf ball made of Gutta-percha in 1848. The ball was made from the dry sap of the tropical sapodilla tree, which was heated and shaped into a ball shape. Guttie’s improved performance and cheaper cost contributed greatly to the expansion of the game.

Hand Hammered Guttie – It was also found that improperly smoothed balls often had a truer flight than the smoother versions, and the Hand Hammered Guttie Ball, with an even pattern hammered by hand, was born. In 1890, golf balls were molded in cast iron, and the Bramble design, with rounded protrusions resembling a raspberry, became the most popular ball of the Guttie era.

Rubber – The advent of the rubber ball changed the face of golf as we know it. Invented by Coburn Haskell in 1898, it featured a solid rubber core wrapped in rubber thread. The early Gutta-percha covers were soon replaced by the Balata covers which were introduced in the early 1900s. Even though they look like Gutties, the average golfer can get an extra 20 yards off the tee. So the guttie gave way to the aerodynamically superior dimple pattern, first used in 1908 and still used today.

Golf Balls Today – The Miracle of Multi-Layer Construction

In recent years, wound golf balls have been largely replaced by multilayer balls, resulting in a bewildering selection of golf balls. For simplicity, modern golf balls can be broken down into three main categories.

Two parts. These are tough and durable golf balls typically with a large, sturdy inner core and tough Surlyn cover, generally designed to maximize distance through high angles of launch and low spin rates.

Our recommendation. The two-piece golf ball is what every beginner should play. With fewer spins, you’re less likely to hook or slice the ball. At the same time you tend to hit the ball further. Two-piece balls tend to cost less, which means they won’t take up much of your budget when they end up in a lake or in a swamp!

Multi-Layer. Usually made of three or four layers where the core is wrapped in one or two layers, multi-layer golf balls are usually favored by Tour players for the extra control it offers.

Three pieces. It has a large synthetic core, thin coat and cover. Sometimes, a tungsten weight is used in the center of the synthetic core for optimized weight concentration.

Four pieces. This multi-layer golf ball has a smaller inner core, surrounded by an outer core, similar to a three-piece ball. It is then surrounded by a thin coat and covering. Multi-layer balls are generally more expensive, and are suitable for more experienced golfers. They tend to have much better control and feel around the green, provide more spin, but don’t travel too far and are less forgiving on hooks and wedges.

Our recommendation. Multi-layer golf balls are best for better players who can appreciate the benefits of extra spin control over and over distance.

Wound. Much less common in today’s game, wound golf balls have a central core that has been wrapped in rubber thread and then usually covered with a Balata cap. These balls tend to be less durable and often don’t hold up to the average player’s spin. They offer a fantastic feel and have good spin, stopping faster on the green – but the trade-off is the less distance. In addition, their performance is affected by temperature, with range and overall performance deteriorating at temperatures below 20°C.

Very few people still use wound balls, and they will most likely be replaced entirely by multi-layered balls. However, some professionals still like the feel and excellent spin control required for finesse shots around the green.

Our recommendation. This ball is only truly suited to the best of the best golfers.

Play to your strength

Today’s golf balls use state-of-the-art construction techniques that have a direct impact on many aspects of the game, including driving distance, approach control, putting stroke, balance and cost. You have to choose the ball that fits the most important aspect of your game – the help you need most. Here’s our summary:

If you need distance (Ideal for medium to high handicappers)
Too many spins will make the ball fly too high, and too little will reduce carry. If you need distance and forgiveness, do it hard. The combined firmness of the cover and core allows the ball to travel longer distances and be extremely durable, but be aware it won’t stop well on the court.

If you need a spin (Ideal for better players)
The spinning ball is made with a cover that produces more spin when hit with an elevated stick. This ball is better suited for playing draws and fades around obstacles and will stop well on the green. However, it will also be easier to slice or hook shots.

If you are looking for ultimate control  – a combination of distance and spin (Ideal for very serious players)
Control golf balls have the characteristics of a distance ball with the ability to stop quickly on the course, with an allegedly lower risk of hitting or slashing a golf ball than a pure spin ball .

Other considerations

Slow swingers. For golfers with slower swing speeds, it is recommended to use a golf ball designed to maximize driving distance for slower club head speeds.
Ideal for women, seniors and less strong players

Putting Perfection. Different makes and models of golf balls will roll different distances on the putting green, with harder balls tending to roll further. Keep in mind that more expensive balls tend to roll more correctly too, due to better balance.

Play within your budget. It’s better to play consistently with a golf ball you can afford than a premium ball you can’t afford to practice with. Playing with a damaged ball will also have an impact on your play, so it is better to play an affordable ball and replace it regularly.

And Finally – Golf Ball Myth

More dimples result in a higher trajectory. This is not true. The optimal number of dimples on a golf ball is between 350 and 450. It is the spinning action of the golf ball, along with the depth of the dimples that determines the trajectory.

Golf balls travel farther when warm. Partly true, because colder temperatures will lower the speed of the golf ball more than warmer temperatures. However, it is the air temperature that has more of an impact on the distance of the ball than the temperature of the ball.

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