The Golf Ball Primer

By Christopher Zoukis Image courtesy Golf balls must be at least 42.67 millimeters in diameter.  In God’s feet and inches, that’s 1.68 inches.  The reason this number is important is because a smaller ball will drive further due to less air resistance.  So as one might expect, golf ball manufacturers tend to produce golf […]

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Hot and Cold Golf Balls

By Christopher Zoukis

Most people don’t know it, but the temperature of the golf ball and the ambient temperature affect the performance of the ball.  Air temperature causes changes in the ball’s resiliency and its spin, along with the density of the air it travels through.

Generally speaking, the warmer a golf ball is the farther it travels.  This is because the rubber materials used to construct the balls function more efficiently and provide more resilience at higher temperatures.  A warmer ball leaves the clubface with more velocity and more spin, encouraging loft.  In addition, if the ball is warm when it lands, it carries more bounce, because heat gives the ball more elasticity.  The ball bounces more and travels further.

The cooler the ambient temperature is, the more dense the air.  If the air is dense, the ball needs more velocity to go as far as it would in thinner or warmer air.  So if the ambient temperature is warm, the air is less dense, which means the ball performs better.  It’s not unlike the tires on race cars, where the higher the temperature, the stickier the tire, which means the car can go faster.

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Golf is popular with millions of people, young and old, expert and beginners.  And like most popular sports, golf has a history.

Before the present-day, white, dimpled golf ball, they used various and in some cases strange substitutes for golf balls.  Early golf balls were made of cowhide, while later examples were constructed from feathers and sap.  Then along came rubber and golf balls really began to change.  Nowadays, golf balls are made from urethane blends.

In the very beginning, golf balls were made from wood.  These wooden examples date back to the 1400s.  The clubs were made from wood, too.  The balls were handmade as were the clubs.  And since technology wasn’t even really a word then, the balls weren’t very round and the clubs were less than efficient.

It was during the 17th century that the ‘featherie’ ball replaced the man-made wooden golf ball.  Featherie balls were composed of goose or chicken feathers jam-packed into a small leather pouch.  First the feathers were boiled, then they were stuffed into the pouch, which had been soaked in warm water.  As the pouch dried and cooled the feathers would expand.  The result, hopefully, was a hard, compact golf ball.

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