Golf Balls > The Game of Golf • Golf Clubs • Golf Courses
Golf balls are designed for use when playing the game of golf. The object of the game is to use a golf club to hit the
ball down the fairway, to the green, and into the hole. Golf can be played for relaxation or for competition. Golf balls
must be approved by and conform to the Royal and Ancient (R&A) and the
United States Golf Association (USGA) regulations when used in competitions.
To determine whether a golf ball with specific markings is a conforming golf ball, visit this
conforming golf ball list page.
Golf ball technology has changed a lot over the years. Carpenters crafted the first golf balls from hardwoods. A featherie ball was produced as well. This was a hand-sewn leather pouch stuffed with chicken or goose feathers. Featherie balls were expensive, and not being perfectly round, these balls tended to fly irregularly. When wet, they didnít fly well at all. Throughout the following years, golf balls were designed with a solid or liquid core that was wound with rubber thread and then covered with a thin outer shell. However, in 1967, Spalding developed a solid golf ball. Today, multi layered balls with urethane covers are most common.
Golf balls are generally divided into two categories. The average golfer often uses recreational golf balls. They are made of two layers, and the cover is firmer than the core. Advanced balls usually have three or more layers, a soft cover, and a firm core. Practice, or range, balls are similar to recreational balls. They are durable, inexpensive, have a hard core with a durable, firm cover, and are often labeled "Practice." Practice balls are good for driving ranges and can be used on the golf course, but most players want a better quality ball when playing a game.
Manufacturers submit golf balls to the USGA and the R&A for testing so they will meet regulations for competitive play. A regulation golf ball cannot be smaller than 1.680 inches and cannot exceed 1.620 ounces. It must be spherically symmetrical (round) and have dimples on its surface. Dimples were first added in 1905 to control the golf ball's trajectory, flight, and spin. Golf balls generally average 250 to 450 dimples. Regulations require that the dimples must be arranged as symmetrically as possible. These dimpled balls give superiority in flight. The USGA also measures the speed at which the ball comes off the face of the golf club. To ensure golf balls don't go too far, they have specified that legal balls may not exceed an initial velocity of 250 feet per second at a temperature between 73 and 77 degrees fahrenheit. These regulations are designed to provide a level playing field.
There are several types of golf balls to choose from. Control balls usually have a high performance urethane cover. This is a soft cover that will lose distance on long shots but is good on the green and produces spin. A distance ball is designed for maximum distance. This ball is hard without much spin. Then there is a compromise ball, between the distance and control balls, that offers some of the advantages of each. These balls are durable, and their outer layer offers some spin. They make good winter golf balls on softer greens. A local PGA professional can help choose the ball best suited to the player.
Golf balls are usually marked to distinguish one player's ball from another. They are normally white, but they are also available in a variety of colors for visibility in many types of weather conditions. Players can buy recycled balls or X-outs/factory seconds for casual use. Some golf balls have embedded radio transmitters. While these are not allowed in tournaments, there are computerized driving ranges that give feedback on distance and accuracy.
Golf Balls — Golf Ball Information Guide
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