Why golf balls are shaped the way they are now?

People may be dumbstruck by this question from children the first time that they see golf balls. One may say it’s aesthetic, but true blue golfers should know their facts and there is a reason why these balls have that dimpled outer design. It’s the product of years of evolution. It’s the product of the thinking to try and try until one succeeds. It’s the product of years of golfing experience.

When the game was introduced in the 1400s in Scotland, players were using wooden clubs and wooden balls, played over a vast sheep pastures. The ball was shaped from available wood in the forests.

GolfIt was only around 1617 when the Feathery balls were introduced. Players believed that if feathered animals can take flight, feathers in golf balls can bring it to father distance. These balls were made from fine duck or goose feathers tucked inside cowhide ball. It became very popular because indeed, it traveled farther than the wooden balls. This combination of feathers and leather is left to soak in water and allowed to dry until it is very hard. But manufacturing this kind of balls took longer time. The exterior was varnished liberally. Thus, it became really expensive. But these balls can be used for lengthened time because golfers later found out that dented golf balls travel much farther.

Around 1847, it was Reverend Adam Paterson who invented a new kind of golf balls made using the imported sap of a kind of rubber tree called the Gutter. It was called the Guttie. This rubber, when heated is quite pliable and can be easily molded into crude balls. Production of this kind of ball was cheaper, meaning more people are now able to play the sport. Moreover, the Guttie ball could be reconditioned when heated and can be reshaped. In order to replicate or even come close to the distances reached by bruised and abused Feathery balls, in 1881, Gutty balls were manufactured with textured surfaces. After a decade the Gutty started to get mass produced using a molding process, increasing its quality, consistency, and decreasing its cost.

It was the Dunlop Rubber Company that began manufacturing the Gutty with raised bumps all over the outside of the golf balls to enable them to fly longer and farther; this design was called the Bramble.

The first “dimples” to ever appear on a golf ball were actually rectangular in shape. But this design was eventually scrapped because the pattern actually collected a lot of dirt and mud, thereby affecting the flight path and distance of the balls.It was then when the pattern was changed to small concave cup shapes which we now see in the modern balls. This new design allowed the ball to travel much farther than any of its predecessors.

There was a time in 1906, when tire making giant B.F. Goodrich tried to manufacture balls with a core filled with compressed air; the reason behind this was so the ball will become much lighter. Unfortunately, the compressed air core expanded with heat, and this caused these balls to blow up. After this fiasco, Spalding redesigned the ball and came up with an ingenious two-piece construction design which prevented the balls from exploding.

But the standard weight and size for balls to be used for professional tours were established by the United States Golf Association, only in 1921, more than 500 years since golfing started. The present standard for golf balls was established in 1932, also by the United States Golf Association. The maximum weight for balls was set at 1.62 ounces,no less than 1.68 inches in diameter,and later, when testing devices have been developed, the USGA added a maximum velocity of 250 feet per second to the standard.

Today’s modern golf balls are now made with multiple layers of synthetic materials like urethane and Surly.