While many might think that their fuzzy tiger head golf club cover is the most important part to a golf game, the golf ball should probably get higher billing. This small piece of equipment can have a huge impact, whether you play in the pros or on a mini golf course. But it's not all fun and dimples when it comes to golf balls; there is science and technology behind each ball that gets produced.
Building a golf ball is similar to building a cake; by adding layers, you can get the exact right feel to the ball. Golf balls are made of two to five layers, with two-piece construction being the least expensive and the premium five-piece construction being the most expensive. The core of the ball is usually made out of a rubbery substance. From there a manufacturer can incorporate more layers over the core. According to Jamie McNamara, the director of purchasing at Golfballs.com, adding layers will affect the control and softness of the ball.
Dimples are then added. These can be made in various shapes and depths, depending on how the manufacturer wants the ball to spin while in the air. For example, the HEX Black Tour ball, crafted by Callaway Golf Co., has an aerodynamic pattern that covers 100 percent of the surface area of the ball. Traditional dimples cover about 88 percent of the surface, says Dave Bartels, the senior director of research and development of golf balls at Callaway Golf Co. The full coverage reduces drag at higher ball speeds, increases lift at lower ball speeds and can also promote a stable flight, adds Bartels.
Once the ball has dimples, it is either painted or color-injected, stamped with the company logo, then coated with a clear-coat finish, says McNamara. All finished golf balls have to be approved by the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
Understanding how the balls are made is important to your golf game, particularly when it comes to picking the right ball for your level of play. Johnny Cox, the director of operations at Golfballs.com, suggests asking yourself these questions before plunking down cash for a box of balls: What is your swing speed? Do you want to be able to work the ball in the air and around the greens, or are you looking for distance only? How much are you willing to pay? The Internet can provide a wealth of information to aid in your search for the perfect ball. Product reviews, instructional videos and information released directly by the manufactures can all be found with the click of a mouse. After starting your search online, Bartels recommends all golfers go through a professional fitting or talk with a golf pro to find the right ball.
Generally speaking, most beginning golfers should be playing a low-compression ball that flies straight, such as HEX Diablo, and as their game improves, they will find more benefit in multi-layer golf balls with unique materials, says Bartels.
Because of high demand, most companies also have balls made specifically for women. These are typically made for slower swing speeds, increasing carry distance and providing spin around the green for better scoring. With benefits like these, guys should learn to not be afraid to putt with pink.
Once you choose the right ball for you, the customization options are endless. Approximately 65 percent of Golfballs.com's online buyers purchase golf balls that are personalized in some way, says Brad Pecot, the director of marketing at Golfballs.com. Personalized balls come in almost any color of the rainbow and can have customized text or photos added as well. You can even buy novelty balls. Go ahead and add Sarah Palin's face to the ball or your favorite -- or least favorite -- fraternity letters.
Whether you go with a neon green ball with a photo of the family dog or a standard ball entirely covered by dimples, make sure you do your research, and if necessary, check in with a pro to be sure your ball complements your game -- and that it gets along with your Chewbacca golf club cover.