The golf ball has undergone many upgrades and enhancements throughout
it's long life. There are four distinct stages in the evolution
of the golf ball: Wooden golf balls , Feather stuffed leather
covered (Featherie) golf balls , Gutta Percha (Gutty)
balls and Rubber Core balls. From the original wooden
ball to the modern Rubber-Cored, the ball has changed the way
we play the game of golf.
Harboring it's roots on the Eastern Coast in Scotland,
the first golf balls were made of wood. Information is scant,
but these inefficient balls were most likely made of hardwoods
such as Beech or Boxroot. Wooden clubs were often used in conjunction
with these balls, which would have made the game of golf a somewhat
jarring experience. These balls were used from the mid fifteenth
century until the seventeenth century, when the featherie ball
In 1618 a new type of golf ball was created by handcrafting
a cowhide sphere stuffed with goose feathers. The 'Featherie'
golf ball was invented. The balls were manufactured while the
leather and feathers were wet. As the leather shrunk while it
dried the feathers expanded to create a hardened, compact ball.
Once coated with paint, these balls were sold, often for more
than the price of a club. The time-consuming processes involved
in creating a Featherie ball ensured that the price was out of
reach of the masses. Though expensive, this type of ball had great
flight characteristics and made the wooden ball obsolete almost
immediately. For over three centuries the Featherie was the standard,
only to be replaced with the advent of the Gutta Percha ball.
Creating balls out of Gutta Percha "Gutty"
was discovered in 1848 by the Rev. Dr. Robert Adams. The ball
was created from the dried sap of the Sapodilla tree. It had a
rubber-like feel and was formed into ball shapes by heating it
up and shaping it while hot. Almost by accident, it was soon found
that balls improperly smoothed often had truer flight than their
smooth counterpart. Thus the Hand Hammered Gutta ball was formed.
Balls were hammered with a consistent pattern throughout with
a sharp edged hammer. After a few years handmade Gutty balls gave
way to metal presses which in turn made golf affordable for the
lower income golfer. Golf truly became the sport for the masses.
"The Bramble" design, with it's minute bulges resembling
a Brambleberry, became the most popular design of the Gutta Percha
era ball. This pattern was carried over with a few brands of rubber
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