History of the Golf Ball
Wooden balls were used until the early 17th century, when the featherie ball was invented. This added a new and exciting feature to the game of golf. A featherie is a hand sewn cowhide bag stuffed with goose feathers and coated with paint. The feathers in the ball were enough to fill a tophat. They were boiled and put in the cowhide bag. As it cooled, the feathers would expand and the hide would shrink, making a compact ball. Due to its superior flight characteristics, the featherie remained the standard ball for more than two centuries. However, an experienced ball maker could only make about two in one day, so they were expensive. Also, it was hard to make a perfectly spherical ball, and because of that, the ball often flew irregularly. When playing in wet weather, the stiches in the ball would rot, and the ball would split open after hitting a hard surface.
In 1848, the Rev. Dr. Robert Adams (or Robert Adam Paterson) invented the gutta percha ball (or guttie). Because gutties were cheaper to produce and could be manufactured with textured surfaces to improve their aerodynamic qualities, they replaced feather balls completely within a few years.
In the twentieth century, multi-layer balls were developed, first as wound balls consisting of a solid or liquid-filled core wound with a layer of rubber thread and a thin outer shell. This design allowed manufacturers to fine-tune the length, spin and "feel" characteristics of balls. Wound balls were especially valued for their soft feel.
Today's golf balls have progressed into having cores of titanium compounds, hybrid materials, softer shells and a more pressurized core. They usually consist of a two-, three-, or four-layer design, (named either ; a two-piece, three-piece or a four-piece ball) consisting of various synthetic materials like surlyn or urethane blends. They are available in a great variety of playing characteristics to suit the needs of golfers of different proficiency.
Most golf balls on sale today have about 300 - 450 dimples. There were a few balls having over 500 dimples before. The record holder was a ball with 1,070 dimples -- 414 larger ones (in four different sizes) and 656 pinhead-sized ones. All brands of balls, except one, have even-numbered dimples. The only odd-numbered ball on the market is a ball with 333 dimples.
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