Golf Ball History – A Brief History of Early Golf Balls

The golf ball has a long history starting from the 1400 century. Nowadays there are around 90 million golfers around the world and the golf ball has evolved much throughout time. The rules of the game have also changed with the evolution of the ball itself. Both tradition and technology have influenced the change of the ball over the course of time and since the game has become so popular that it has given rise to big industry and business as well.

Golf Ball History in Details

Golf balls were nothing more than round rock and pebbles in the beginning. Though very scanty information is found about the first man-made golf balls, we wouldn’t be wrong assuming that the first man-made balls were wooden. The original wooden balls were mostly made in Scotland and it was in use for almost a century-long until feathery golf balls were invented.

In the next century, we get to see golfers use a feathery ball which was created by handicraft, a cowhide sphere stuffed with goose feathers. Since the balls were quite expensive, they were out of reach of the mass of people. The most disadvantageous part of this golf ball was that the feather ball would come apart if gotten wet and a player couldn’t have played more than two rounds with a ball; also it was kind of impossible to make a complete round ball.

In 1800, we came to know about the Gutty Golf Ball which used to be made from the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree. It had to be shaped while hot by heating up. After the invention of the new ball, the game became widespread and very popular among the mass. Also, it brought about a revolutionary change in the game because of its durability as well as affordability. The balls were made by hammering with three coats of paint but later on considering benefits the coating was reduced to two.

By the end of the 18th century, the advent of rubber core balls brought a revolutionary change. The unique construction and design replaced the previously used. The solid rubber core of the ball met with immediate success with high tension rubber thread wrapped around the cover.

Years of research and development have taken golf ball technology to a whole new level in terms of speed, shots: high/low, spin, cover, core, amateur, and advanced golfers and has given rise to a million-dollar industry. Of course, a few characteristics of all balls have to be retained, for example: initial maximum velocity, ball size, and weight, spherical and integral symmetry, combined carry and roll of the ball.

Today, Titleist, Callaway, Taylormade, Srixon, Nike and other companies compete among themselves to bring out the best and indeed for the market shares.

Titleist Golf Ball History

Presently, the most popular golf balls are made by Titleist. The company was founded by Phillip W. Young in 1910, who’s an M.I.T. graduate. He was determined to make a ball that could fly straight and the un-uniformity of the ball caused him to move it in spiral directions. The development of the ball went in full swing after World War II.

In the beginning, the balls were made harder concentrating on durability but the performance in the green wasn’t up to the mark, so they did put more effort to bring everything in one. Their endless effort has made them possible to make the top of a line ball today.

Callaway Golf Ball History

Callaway is comparatively a newer company than the others but has successfully drawn the market towards them a lot faster. They started as a manufacturer in 1980. The biggest success of Callaway was Rule 35. The company was founded by Ely Callaway, who’s an Emory University graduate. The company made investments to evaluate more than 300 dimple patterns and 1000 variations on the core in terms of durability, spin, distance and control.

Taylormade Golf Ball History

Taylormade was founded in 1979 by Adams but didn’t get wide acceptance until the 1990s. Adidas bought Taylormade in 1997 and gained huge success, in 2017, Taylormade was again sold to KPS capital partners by Adidas. Taylormade, today is very popular with amateur and also casual golfers.

Golf Ball Dimples History

The golf ball has a history of 600 years and over the course of time, the golf ball has gone through many evolutions, from wood to feather, gutty and then the present one. The dimples of the golf ball are directly related to its physics, pressure, aerodynamics and turbulence.

A lot of research has been made to discover how the ball could have traveled in straight lines, not spirally, how the air pressure works, the force, drag, distance covered, spin, smoothness and so on. In 1905, the dimple pattern was applied by William Taylor which resulted in a smaller wake and lesser drag and we use it even today.

Related Article: how many dimples are on a titleist pro v1

First Golf Ball Manufacturer in History

Coburn Haskell is known to have been the first golf ball manufacturer, on April 11, 1899. It consisted of rubber thread and it came over many drawbacks of the balls that we had before, as a result, the game itself became very popular all over the United States.

Some Renowned Golf Players in History

If we take the names of some of the renowned players in history, the name of Jack Nicklaus would come first. Then the name of other renowned golfers will come to the list. Below are the names of some renowned golf players in history:

Jack Nicklaus:

He gained 73 victories and 18 major golf championships from 1963 to 1980. He is considered as the greatest golfer of all time.

Tiger Woods:

Next, we could cite the name of Tiger Woods, who won 77 PGA and 39 European Tournaments.

Ben Hogan:

He will be remembered as a legendary golfer. He won 63 professional tournaments and 4 major championships from 1938 to 1959.

Walter Hagen:

He is the greatest player of the 20th century. He won 11 major championships throughout his career.

Gary Player:

He is the most successful non-American golfer in history. He won over 165 victories over the past 60 years.

Other Names:

Sam Snead, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, and Byron Nelson are some of the names that would never be removed from the history of golf for their immense success and achievements.

How Golf Rules Were Finalized Over Time?

Though golf has a history of over 600 years, we can find the written record since 1744, from Scotland. There’s a record of 13 articles in the 18th century. With the different amendments, growth and global expansion, the rules of decisions and interpretations were made between 1899 and 1934.

Also, towards the advancement of 1934, the need for uniforms was recognized. The uniformity of the game continued from 1952 to 1984 and rapid development occurred from 1984 till today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What was the first golf ball ever made?

Answer: The first golf ball ever made was produced from wood.

Question: How has the golf ball changed over time?

Answer: The golf ball has changed over time from wood to feather and then gutter to the one we use today.

Question: When was the first golf ball hit?

Answer: The first recorded golf ball was hit in 1618, in Scotland.

Question: How far did old golf balls go?

Answer: An old golf ball goes as far as 24 yards.

Final Thoughts

The Golf game that we get to see today has gone through a lot of evolution and has adapted a lot in regards to rules and the pattern of the game. Many historians have expressed their thoughts regarding golf ball history. It is assumed that the golf game originated from the time of ancient Romans or the 8th century Chinese. But most historians agree that the modern golf game originated in Scotland in the 1400s or earlier.

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