What Are Golf Balls Made Of? [Complete Guide]

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A question that quite a few golfers around the world want to have an answer to is the question ‘what are golf balls made of?’ Have you ever even been curious as to what is underneath those hundreds of dimples which cover the ball? 

If so then you’re in the right place as we’ll cover exactly what makes a golf ball what it is in this guide so that you can have a greater understanding of not only what golf balls are made of but also how you can use your knowledge to your advantage when looking to purchase the best golf balls for you no matter whether you are a beginner or senior.

What Is A Golf Ball Made Of?

A golf ball comprises of three main elements. The cover, the mantle and the solid rubber core. These three areas combine to allow golf balls to offer spin rate, compression and initial velocity.

You may have a hard time believing us but the average golf balls that you see on the tee actually have more engineering than meets the eye. Golf balls have come a long way since the Gutta Percha ball of the 19th century. With the modern day versions behind the gleaming dimple pattern cover, lie thousands of computer simulations, coupled with research into aerodynamics and advanced manufacturing, each of which combines to allow you to achieve such distances on your shots. 

When it comes to improving the performance of a golf ball, there usually are three main areas in which the manufacturers will focus on. In golf speak, they are referred to as the spin rate, compression and initial velocity respectively.

The aim of focusing on these different aspects of a golf ball are to increased distance, add more control and improved the feel of the ball when it is struck.

To achieve these results, companies will have to continually tweak the core, the mantle, and the cover.

This is an ongoing process and can be seen by the fact that the golf ball has evolved over the years and new makes come out every year as the game of golf innovates. 

What Are The Different Golf Ball Materials?

Golf balls are made from different materials from synthetic rubbers for the core to thermoplastic polymer for the mantle to Surlyn for the cover are used to construct a golf ball. All of these different components play a key role of the make up of a golf ball.

What Is The Core Of A Golf Ball Made Of?

The core of the golf ball is the very center of the ball and made from synthetic rubbers. This is where most of the energy sits when the ball is struck. It is actually the construction of the core is the single most significant factor that will affect the performance of a golf ball.

Historically, these cores used to be predominantly liquid-based, but nowadays it would be much more common to find materials such as synthetic rubbers, which are then mixed with polymers. The reason for this is that manufacturers are continually looking for the highest level of elasticity. By having elasticity the golf ball is able to quickly reverse to its natural state after the club has had impact with the golf ball.

It is so influential to the extent that a manufacturer could create an entire collection of balls solely based on what the core is made from. For example, the Titleist Pro V1 consists of just a large heart and one cover, and this improves the consistency in a predictable ball flight. However, the Pro V1 X has a much smaller core, but the mantle layer allows for less spin and longer distances.  

What Is a Golf Ball Mantle Made From?

Golf ball mantle is made from different materials within their respective layers. A strong, rigid thermoplastic is found on the outer layer of the mantle. Whereas a thermoplastic polymer would be found in the middle section and a rubber is used in the mantle’s inside layer which is much softer.

Before plastics and other synthetic rubbers were used, large rubber bands were used to try and create this mantle design. The aim of this was to reduce the amount of spin form the core (because the centre attempts to expand under contact), which then will offer improved control to the user.

The manufacturers of modern golf balls have been highly innovative in this way. There are many different mantle designs and structures which are available on the market nowadays. These act as a layer between the golf balls cover and the core of the ball (Golf-Info-Guide). For example, golf ball manufacturers Taylormade offers a model of five piece balls which include three mantles. The benefit of this is that it provides a transition from the outer covers right to the core, with each one becoming stiffer and stiffer. The idea behind this is that the center (which has high energy), will produce greater distance, reduce the spin rate, to allow for greater control. 

What Is The Cover Of a Golf Ball Made Of?

The cover is made from Surlyn or Urethane. For balls with a three-piece construction, Surlyn will often be the go-to material. This is thanks to the fact that it can produce much more spin, which allows for greater control. Urethane is a material that can be molded extremely thinly, so it doesn’t affect the velocity of the ball. Both materials do provide excellent protection from any scuffings on the cover or any potential mis-hits.

Even when considering the massive amounts of technology at work in the middle of the ball, it is fair to say that no areas work as hard as the cover. This cover has to be extremely stiff for it to maximize the energy generated, and fly such long distances. Simultaneously, however, it cannot be too thick, or else it would crack often. For the manufacturers to be able to find this ideal balance, the ball is usually made either from Surlyn, or more frequent, urethane (GolfBuzz).

What Is The Golf Ball Manufacturing Process?

Manufacturing golf balls involves many varying steps. The process for golf ball manufacturing include: washing, imprinting, coating, pressing and packaging the golf balls. Every step must be done in a specific order and there are many different machines involved in order to produce a golf ball from concept to completion.

Step 1: Washing

The first step, washing involves the use of a machine that washes the golf balls in order to prepare them for the imprinting process. The washing machine is a washer and dryer hybrid that uses high pressure to remove unwanted material, such as oil, from the ball surface. After washing they are moved on to drying racks where excess water is removed from the ball with hot air.

Step 2: Imprinting

Secondly, the golf ball goes to an imprinting machine. Metal screens, known as slugs, are placed in the machine. The combination of metal screens and a hydraulic press forms a mold of the golf ball that will be imprinted.

Step 3: Coating

The next step is coating the golf ball with resin, which is a synthetic rubber. Resin adheres to the core and covers it completely. This part of the process is done by a machine called an injection press. The resin is heated and then shot into a metal mold that is lined with the slug from step one. The mold is then filled with the golf balls, and the resin cools from outside to inside. After coating, there is more quality control; this time for weight tolerance. This step is to ensure that the weight of each ball must be the same.

Step 4: Compression

In the final step, a draw press is used to compress the ball into their shape. This machine is used with metal draw molds that have a negative impression of the ball. Finally, the golf balls are segmented for packaging and a metal casing.

Compression is important and can have an impact on how the ball travels. Golfers should take golf ball compression into consideration when making a purchase. Golfers with a low swing speed will perform better with a low compression golf ball whereas more experienced golfers with a faster club head speed will benefit from a higher compression golf ball that will fly farther.

In Summary

To conclude, golf balls are made from several different components ranging from the core, to the mantle, to the cover. As you can see, so much goes into the creation of two piece, three piece or even five piece balls to take them from concept to store to the golf course. With advances in golf ball technology this process is much more streamlined than it used to be but there is still a lot that goes into it. However, all of these steps are necessary as each part of how the ball is made is important in driving the best performance possible.