What Is Inside a Golf Ball?

By Jessica Mousseau

Golf balls have not changed much on the outside over the years. However, what's inside has changed drastically over the course of golf's history and continues to evolve today. The center of a golf ball can have a significant impact on how far the ball will travel when hit and how much control the golfer has over the trajectory of the ball.

Wound vs. Solid Core Golf Balls

Today there are many types of golf balls on the market. Pretty much all golf balls fall into one of two categories:
- Wound balls have a rubber or sometimes liquid core surrounded by strips of rubber that look something like a rubber band. This is encased with the classic hard dimpled shell.
- Non-wound balls have a similar design but feature a solid core.

Myths About Poisonous or Explosive Golf Balls

The most popular myth about golf balls is that the center is either poisonous or explosive. Generations of children have been fascinated by the thought that the inside of a golf ball was filled with a poison gas or potentially explosive material. Fortunately, this is nothing but an urban legend. In 1898, B.F. Goodrich produced golf balls with a compressed air core that had the unfortunate habit of exploding from time to time. This may be the origin of the current myth.

Solid Core Golf Balls Preferred

Wound balls used to be the choice of professional golfers because they were easier to control, even if they did not travel as far. New technology has rendered them almost obsolete because solid core, non-wound balls now have softer covers that are easier to control, and the solid core makes them travel farther. The question today is between two piece golf balls, built for greater distance, and multi-layer golf balls that provide greater control. More skilled golfers prefer multi-layer balls, while beginning golfers benefit from the the longer drives offered by two piece construction. 

Distance Advantage Brings Control Problems

The popularity of one golf ball versus another is usually based how far the ball travels. Golf balls with solid cores tend to travel farther, making them more popular balls for golfers. The downside to a super distance golf ball is the danger of errant golf balls. People have been injured and property damaged when golfers lose control over the golf balls as they travel over great distances.

The United States Golf Association has actually been trying to reign in golf balls in recent years. They have asked manufacturers to submit prototype balls that travel shorter distances.



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