The standard golf ball has experienced numerous overhauls and upgrades all through its existence. The first recognizable form of the golf was played in Scotland during the early 1400s, so the golf ball has had about 600 years to evolve. The evolution of the golf ball features significant changes in the sport of golf and delineates vital golf points of interest during the extended growth of the game. The improvement of the golf club, golf course & the rules of the game were influenced by the evolution of the golf ball itself. The balance between innovation and convention is as ancient as the game of golf itself. One can indeed say that when it comes to golf, yesterday’s innovations are today’s traditions.
The testing and supervision of the balls are approved by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and the United States Golf Association. The use of dimples on the surface of the balls has been a breakthrough in its usage. William Taylor first filed a patent for the engineering of the uniformly dimpled surface.
The golf balls have a diameter of 1.680 inches (42.67 mm) maximum with a weight of 1.620 ounces (45.93 grams) maximum. The balls are spherical with a uniform construction and the entire surface of the balls is filled with consistent dimples. These dimples reduce the friction of the ball with the ground. The balls have around 300 to 500 dimples which can be extended up to 1000 dimples in a balanced way.
The golf balls after being hit by the golf sticks induce a specific amount of energy, leading to increased velocity with a particular launch angle and spin rate. The uniformly constructed balls face two aerodynamic forces, lift and drag. The trajectory motion of dimpled balls is higher than the non-dimpled balls. For making the aerodynamics optimal, golf balls are required to be cleaned thoroughly.
There's no question that the first games of golf, as we know it nowadays, were played utilizing wooden golf balls. Wooden golf balls were the first man-made golf balls, and even though data is insufficient, it would be pretty safe to say that a wooden golf ball had a few rather exciting playing characteristics. Harbouring their roots in the early 1400s on the Eastern Coast of Scotland, these unique wooden golf balls were made of hardwoods such as Boxroot or Beech. Wooden clubs were used that time, which in combination with the wood balls would have made the game of golf a bit jarring. Wooden golf balls were utilized up until the seventeenth century after which the feathery balls were invented.
The first real golf ball was actually a feathery golf ball. Fundamentally, the feather was a sack of leather filled with boiled goose feathers, sewed up and painted. Feathery golf balls were costly, so only the rich ones could afford to buy them. Maybe the era of the feathery golf ball has begun during the early 1400s and run until the late 1840s; it is said that in 1618, a new kind of golf ball was made by handcrafting a cowhide sphere stuffed with goose feathers. With wet leathers and feathers, the feathery balls were created as the leather shrinks while drying, the feathers expanded to form a solidified, compact ball. After which, the Feathery was painted and sold, usually for more than the cost of a golf club.
During 1848, Rev. Dr. Robert Adams started making golf balls out of Gutta Percha "Gutty". The Gutty golf balls were made from the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree. It had a rubber-like feel and was shaped into balls by warming it up and shaping while hot. The entry of the gutta-percha ball (famous as “gutty”) revolutionized the sport of golf and made it famous. The gutty period was from 1848 until the late 1890s. If compared to feathery, the Gutty had a much higher effect on the game of golf, because of its affordability, playability and durability. The first Gutty golf balls were hand-made, smooth shaped and had three coats of paint. Later it was found that brand new gutty balls had more tendency to duck than the used ones. So to correct that, the golf balls were hammered in the right pattern all through with a sharp-edged hammer. Dimples were consolidated into the iron moulds that taken after. Less paint was also found to be advantageous, and the paint application was decreased from three to two coats.
The rubber core golf ball changed the entirety of the sport of golf. Coburn Haskell invented it in 1898 in association with the BF Goodrich Company. This stylish and bizarre golf ball development and design included a strong rubber core, high-tension rubber string wrapped around the core, and a Gutta Percha cover. The more advanced rubber core ball replaced the gutty in 1899. However, the rubber core golf ball hasn’t become immediately successful. Golfers complained about it, but once Walter Travis won the U.S. amateur golf championship playing with one, and then the gutty ball became outdated. After this, many updations took place and the first dimple-patterned balls were used in 1908.
The Rules of Golf, mutually governed by The R&A and the USGA, state that the diameter of a "conforming" golf ball can’t be smaller than 42.67 mm, and the weight shouldn’t surpass 45.93 g. The ball must have the essential properties of a spherically symmetrical ball, which means that the ball itself must be spherical and have a symmetrical arrangement of dimples on its surface. In common, the governing bodies and their regulations must provide a relative playing field and keep up the traditional form of the sport and its equipment, while not completely restricting the use of new innovations in equipment design.