Wooden golf balls

Golf goes back hundreds of years and is widely thought to of originated in Scotland. The first golf balls and clubs were made from wood, and there is a record dating back to 1550 referring to a John Daly playing with a wooden golf ball.

Feather golf balls

From wood, the featherie’ came along. These golf balls were made with tightly packed goose feathers with a cow hide lining. It sounds soft, but by packing the ball together when wet, as it dried the leather shrank and feathers expanded to create hard golf balls. As they were handcrafted the quality of golf balls varied and they were expensive to buy. In the 1600s golf ball makers such as Dickson, Henry Mills and Leith became well known in St Andrews, the home of golf.

The Guttie

St Andrews remained an exciting place for golf and so naturally a place where developments in golf balls and golf clubs originated. By 1848 Rev Adam Paterson introduced the Guttie’. The Gutta Percha golf ball played a big part in the popularization of the game. Made out of a rubber like sap from the Gutta tree, it was relatively cheap to make.

Patterns on golf balls

By 1880, the smooth surface of the Guttie meant it didn’t travel as far a pattern was introduced to try and help the golf balls travel further. As the industrial revolution took place, the Gutties were made in moulds, became cheaper, more accessible and better quality. Major factories and rubber companies began to mass produce golf balls.

Rubber cored golf balls

Coburn Haskell brought in the next major development in golf balls in 1898 with his rubber cored ball. It added roughly 20 yards to the distance golf balls flew and was widely considered to be the ball to use by 1901, especially after its success in the British and US Open. Haskell balls were also mass produced thanks to the industrial revolution in Britain and the advent of a thread winding machine made the golf clubs and balls affordable.

Collectors of golf balls

The early 1900s is a key period for collectors of golf balls and memorabilia thanks to the experimentation with patterning. The dimple pattern appeared in 1905 and was introduced by William Taylor the birth of the modern golf ball had arrived.

Technological advances

Developments and experiments continued but since 1921 the regulators of the sport the R & A and USGA added rules and constraints to try and refrain technology advancing golf balls too much to keep the game competitive and maintain a level playing field.

However, today you can buy a vast array of golf balls designed specifically for ladies, men, seniors, or to suit individual games.

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