Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Golf Balls


For some of us, the biggest decision we’ll ever make about a golf ball is likely to be what color ball we want at the miniature golf course. We might even have a ‘lucky’ color, a favorite number, even some novelty logo that we prefer; but did you know that there’s a lot more to golf balls than meets the eye?

This golf ball FAQ will take you from start to finish on all-things golf ball related.

History of the Golf Ball

Golf has been around for a long time; it is believed that rocks were the first golf balls used. During the 1400s in Scotland, wooden golf balls were used and eventually replaced by what was called the feathery. All featheries were handmade, typically filled with boiled goose feathers and a stitched wet leather cover. As the outside leather dried it contracted and the wet feathers inside dried to expand, resulting in a hard ball. Today the feathery has become quite the collectible.

The feathery golf ball was replaced in 1848 by the gutty golf ball. This golf ball was made from the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree. The sap was heated and shaped while hot, creating a rubber like texture. This discovery led to an increase in golf popularity primarily because it they were cheaper and faster to make and this allowed for a more affordable and available game.

Who Invented the Golf Ball?

Today’s golf balls are attributed to the discovery made in 1898 by Coburn Haskell in association with BF Goodrich. Haskell was fiddling around with rubber bands, winding them tightly into a ball and noticing how high and far they bounced when compacted. A fellow golf mate, superintendent at BF Goodrich, Bertram Work, suggested they try it when golfing and that experiment led to the discovery of the modern golf ball.

Now, golf balls would be made with a solid rubber core wound tightly with rubber bands and a solid cover. The patented Haskell Ball was born, forever shaping the way golf balls would be designed.

Since 1900, there have been more than 5,000 patents granted for golf balls. Today, golf ball designs remain closely guarded secrets in the industry, since each company desires to have the best on the market. Golf ball construction now consists of aerodynamic studies, computer animation and product manufacturing of polymers.

What is a golf ball made of? How is a golf ball constructed?

The golf ball itself consists of three parts, the core, the mantle, and the cover. The core is where the energy will be released from the strike of the golf club. Most cores are made of some type of polymer infused rubber. This allows for some flexibility and for the ball to ‘bounce’ back (recover) it’s shape after being hit. Polybutadiene is a current polymer choice. Golf balls are sometimes designed and sold based on the core alone. The core is what makes the ball go.

The mantle that once consisted of yards of rubber bands wrapped around the core, now consists of a variety of plastics and rubbers formed around the core. The mantle layer helps to decrease spin and increase control, though not every ball has one and other balls have more than one.

We’ve written a separate article you might find interesting. It answers the question: What Are Golf Balls Made Of?

What is the inside of a golf ball made of?

As mentioned previously, the core of a golf ball is usually made of a polymer infused rubber. The mantle which surrounds the core is usually made of a variety of plastics and rubber.

What is the shell of a golf ball made of?

The shell works the hardest on each golf ball. It cannot be too hard or it could crack, but needs to be hard enough to enable the design and function to perform best. Most covers are made of Surlyn, or urethane. All this for a tiny little ball that according to USGA regulations must weigh 1.620 ounces or less and a diameter no less than 1.68 inches.

Why does a golf ball have dimples?

Dimples increase lift which then increase air pressure below the ball. This setup helps the ball travel higher with less air resistance and less less drag. The result? The golf ball travels farther.

If this sounds like a physics word problem to you, it’s because it is.  To further complicate the dimple effect, know this: The common depth of a dimple is 0.010 inches deep and the slightest change impacts the distance the ball will travel. You may find yourself tempted to take out your old physics textbook; I was not. The fact is, a smooth ball will only go half as far.

How many dimples are on a golf ball?

Most golf balls have three hundred to five hundred dimples. We wrote an entire article covering how many dimples are on a golf ball? Be sure to check it out.

How do you choose the right golf ball?

So, we have learned some things about golf balls, but how do we choose the right one? Your choice will depend on budget, experience, goals and skill level. Golf professionals recommend testing different golf balls and finding what works for you. If you’re new to golf, our Most Forgiving Golf Balls article offers some guidance on your initial golf ball choice.

Did you know? The average golf professional hits 500 balls per day!

Should I use a soft or hard golf ball?

If you think you might prefer a soft ball vs a hard ball, know the difference. Soft golf balls have a softer feel and low compression. Compression is the measure how much the ball deforms under the strike from the club. The harder the ball the less deformation.

What is the softest golf ball on the market?

For 2 piece balls, the Wilson Staff DUO Soft+ is the softest golf ball on the market. The Callaway Supersoft are a close second.

Softest 2 Piece Ball
Wilson Staff DUO Soft+
  • The world's softest 2 piece ball
  • Superior distance
  • Multiple color options
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
02/22/2024 03:34 pm GMT
Callaway Supersoft
  • Super soft
  • Fast ball speed
  • Great distance
  • Multiple color options
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase.

What’s the difference between 2, 3 and multi-piece golf balls?

Two-piece balls (a core and a cover) are good for the average golfer, they are durable, affordable and offer greater distance. The three-piece golf ball (core, mantle and a cover) is more advanced and can be tailored to the strengths of advanced players. They are good for control, distance and spin. Multilayered (4-5 pieces) golf balls are often used by advanced players.

What is the best 2 piece golf ball?

The Titleist Velocity is my choice for the best 2 piece golf ball. The Bridgestone Golf e6 are another great option. There are multiple factors to consider when making your selection, but without knowing your swing speed or seeing your game in action, those two options are safe bets.

Top Choice
Titleist Velocity

When you want:

  • Longer distances and low long game spin
  • Superior iron stoppability
  • High ball flight

The Titleist Velocity is the ball of choice. Available in white, green, orange and pink.

We may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
02/21/2024 12:44 pm GMT
Bridgestone e6
  • Soft feel
  • Long distance performance
  • Available in white and optic yellow
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
02/22/2024 05:41 pm GMT

What is the best 3 piece golf ball?

If you’re looking for the best 3 piece ball, I would try the TaylorMade Tour Response (less expensive) or a Titleist Pro V1 (more expensive).

Top Choice
TaylorMade Tour Response
  • Soft feel, great distance
  • More backspin around the green
  • Fast ball speed
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
02/22/2024 07:35 pm GMT

Whatever choice you make, it is recommended to test different golf balls (not during the same round). You’d be amazed at the difference a ball could make in saving strokes and improving your score. As you become a better player or find an area of your game that you would like to improve on, you can try a golf ball specific to your needs.

What is the longest ball in golf?

If you are interested in the golf ball that has gone the greatest distance, look no further than the Titleist Velocity. It has a patented technology based on its core and is a favorite among golfers of all different skill levels.

Top Choice
Titleist Velocity

When you want:

  • Longer distances and low long game spin
  • Superior iron stoppability
  • High ball flight

The Titleist Velocity is the ball of choice. Available in white, green, orange and pink.

We may earn a commission if you make a purchase.
02/21/2024 12:44 pm GMT

What golf ball is Tiger using in 2021?

Tiger Woods uses his Bridgestone Tour B XS Tiger Woods Edition stamped with #1. We wrote an entire article on What ball does Tiger Woods use? Be sure to check it out.

What golf ball does Phil Mickelson use?

Phil Mickelson uses Callaway golf balls and released his Chrome Soft X Triple Track ‘Mickelson’ version.

Do the pros play the same golf ball that I buy off the shelf?

Most pro golfers use golf balls that you can pickup online or at a local pro shop. There are the occasional prototypes developed by a professional player, but most golfers use golf balls that are available to the general public.

Do pro golfers use a new ball on each hole?

With an ever-changing industry and evolving technologies, it’s interesting to know that most pro golfers do not use a new golf ball on each hole. With this discovery, there are some exceptions and a few superstitions. Ernie Els believed that there was only one birdie in every ball, so he would change after the birdie.

In general golf ball rules allow you to change a golf ball during play, as long as it is between holes and not on the same hole. Tournament committees can impose a ‘one ball rule’.

Other Golf Ball FAQ

Why are golf balls white?

The standard golf ball has been white for decades. White was most likely used because it shows up well against green grass, but did you know our eyes actually see yellow first and best? Golf ball colors are also changing with yellow, orange and bright green coming to the forefront. These days there are golf balls that glow in the dark and in every color of the rainbow (including pink!).

Why are there numbers on a golf ball?

Dimples and colors aren’t the only things on a golf ball. The numbers on a golf ball are for player identification. The logos are often for marketing purposes. Any golfer can order custom golf balls designed to their liking. Novelty sayings, holiday themes and humorous quotes are favorites among golfers. President Woodrow Wilson like to mark his golf balls with red or black paint so he could still play in the winter.

I hope I’ve answered all of your golf ball questions. If there is something that I missed, please post your question in the comments below.

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