The game of golf has been around for ages and changes have already been incorporated into the equipment and rules through the years. What is constant in the game are the golf ball and club. The golf ball has since been at the center of the sport.
The first golf game was played in Scotland in the early 1400s.
Golf balls were actually an important aspect that determines the rules of golf as well as the design of the club and the course. In the early games, however, the balls did not have the dimpled design. The golf ball has gone through several notable modifications in terms of design and construction.
Golf balls started actually out being made of wood. This material is one of the few materials which were readily available during that time. Wood was also easy to handle using the tools in that age. These balls were made by hand. It was not as easy to handle these balls as they were quite inefficient. They were made of hardwoods such as Beech and Box root, materials that do not exactly help the ball travel far in terms of height and distance. These balls were used up until the seventeenth century.
New materials were experimented on in the manufacture of golf balls. These were leather and feather. This type of golf ball is actually a leather ball that is stuffed with feathers. This is what was acknowledged as the first “real” golf ball. The ball used a leather sack that was filled with goose feathers. When it was filled and compact enough, it was stitched and painted. During this time, only a privileged few could afford these balls. The game of golf itself was regarded as a game for the wealthy.
These balls eventually evolved into different forms.
In a few years, the leather sphere balls were replaced with balls made of cowhide. In this version, they let the cowhide shrink, resulting in a harder and more compact ball. Of course, they had several versions coming from their experiments, going back and forth from the drawing board to the greens to test the designs. More modern designs came after the leather and cowhide versions.
The next version of these balls was called Gutty golf balls. They were called such because they were made from the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree. This also had a rubber like feel. Moreover, this ball revolutionized the game of golf. With more accessible and renewable materials, the game became more affordable for the ordinary people. It was less expensive to produce the balls which made it possible even for those who do not have a lot of money to play the game. This was the time when the greens opened to a wide variety of players.
Next to the Gutty balls is the version that looks closest to the balls used today. This ball was developed and designed with a rubber core, much like today’s balls. This new design again changed the way golf was viewed. The more technical aspects of the ball design was taken into consideration. This newer version was able accommodate more designs to improve airflow and driving range. The evolution of the golf ball did not stop there. There were new designs launched. While this is so, the designs did not deviate much from the rubber core design.
Today, the golf balls are made by machines, using a combination of molding and compression technology. Aside from the rubber core, the ball uses a thermoplastic coating on the outside. The ball’s dimpled appearance serves to help with the airflow and impact absorption to allow the ball to soar higher and travel farther.
The golf ball has come a very long way from its origins in the 1400s. From being made of leather to today’s more modern thermoplastic variants, it has evolved so far as to change the game of golf. With the evolution of the golf ball, the design and construction of other golf equipment like clubs are also affected.