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Golf Ball History

Historical references of the first golf ball  makers point to Holland back in the 15th century. Dutch golf players originally played with wooden golf balls made from elm or beech.

Gradually the Dutch replaced the wooden ball with a white leather ball filled with cow's hair which was used in the local game of kaatsen (hand tennis).

The kaatsen ball later inspired the Scots to invent the "feathery" sometime in the 17th or early 18th century as a replacement for the wooden ball that had little aerodynamic or control benefits.

See History of the golf ball below

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Historical Timeline Of Golf Ball Evolution

During the latter part of the first decade in the twentieth century, golf ball manufacturers were experimenting with rubber core mesh balls. It was at the beginning of this period that the modern day golf ball came to be.

Early dimple balls offered players greater spin and feel and competitors began designing unique mesh type patterns on golf balls.

There was the Rifled Ball with groves like in the barrel of a gun, raised banana shapes, donut dimples, Stars, Circles, Hexagons and eventually the square mesh ball became standard.

Golf Ball History

In the earliest days of golf on the eastern coast of Scotland, players used primitive equipment to play the game. The first clubs and balls specifically made for golf were fashioned from wood. The balls used were made from hardwoods such as beech that were likely imported from Holland. These balls were used from the 14th to 17th Century .

Record books show that in 1447 King James II outlawed golf due to concerns that his subjects preferred playing golf over weapons training.

The Feather Ball: In 1618 the feather golf ball or 'Featherie' was created most likely with inspiration from the Kaatsen Dutch hand ball. The feather ball period was the longest period of stability in the history of the golf ball. The feathery ball period lasted from as early as the 14th Century to as late as the 16th Century and was produced until the early 1850's. Originally these balls were likely to have been filled with wool or hair. Ultimately the contents were changed when it was discovered that the use of feathers would produce a livelier and longer lasting ball golf ball that was preferred over the previous versions.

Feather Ball Construction: Several pieces of stout leather were tightly stitched, leaving a small opening. Boiled and softened feathers were tediously stuffed into the casing before the final stitches were made. The surprisingly hard feather ball was hammered into roundness and coated with several layers of paint.

The Gutty Ball: This is where the modern era started, with the feathery being replaced by the gutty. Gutty-percha is a similar material to rubber that is made from the dried sap of a tree. The first "Gutta" ball is believed to have been made in 1848 by the Rev. Dr. Paterson from gutta-percha packing material. Gutta-percha is the evaporated milky juice or latex produced from a tree most commonly found in Malaysia. Gutta balls, were handmade by rolling the softened material on a board. The new durability of the Gutta, together with its much lower cost, resistance to water, and improved run, provided rejuvenation to the game of golf, thus the Gutta gradually replaced the Feathery.

Hammered Gutta-percha enormously enhanced the game of golf, and it was soon discovered by golfers who failed to smooth their balls by boiling and rolling them on a "smoothing board" after play, that a many "nicked" balls had truer flight than the smooth gutta. Thus the hand hammered gutta was created by hammering the softened ball with a hammer to give the ball an even pattern that greatly improved its play. Later iron molds or ball presses were used to form the balls and create patterns.

Bramble Surface textures and patterns impressed into the gutta-percha balls evolved to greatly improve the ball’s flight. The best known balls were the hand-marked private brands of the Scottish club makers. Many brands with a variety of patent names used the bramble pattern (with a surface similar to the berry). This became the most popular pattern of the gutta era and was also used on some of the early rubber balls.

The rubber ball was invented in 1898 by a Cleveland, Ohio, golfer, Coburn Haskell, in association with the B. F. Goodrich Company. The ball featured rubber thread wound around a solid rubber core. The Balata cover was developed in the early 1900’s. Bramble, mesh, reverse mesh, and a great many other patterns gradually gave way to the aerodynamically superior dimple pattern first used in 1908.

Modern On January 1, 1932, standardization of golf ball weight and size was established by the United States Golf Assn. following 1930 standards set by the British Golf Assn. for a slightly smaller ball. The weight was set at a maximum of 1.620 oz., and diameter not to be less than 1.680 in. Later. after testing apparatus was developed to measure velocity, a maximum velocity of 250 feet per second was added by the USGA. The durability and precision of today’s balls reflect technological advancement of their manufacture and the development of space age plastics, silicone, and improved rubber.