Have you ever been shopping for a golf ball? It’s a daunting task; the number of brands, varying prices, and different types of balls, who would’ve thought? Ask most people, even golfers, and they’ll tell you that there’s only one type of golf ball; but is that really true?
In this article, I will look at the brief history of the golf ball, how it has changed over time, the materials used, and its current-day size and weight.
At the end of this article, you’ll be an expert on everything to do with the golf ball, even if it is self-professed. Let’s get started.
How Big Is A Golf Ball?
Today, the standard size of the golf ball is 1.68 inches. This is the only size that is legally and officially allowed to be used in golf tournaments and sold at retailers.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a ton of old golf balls lying around the house, and you might’ve noticed that not all the golf balls are the same size. That’s because, over the years, the rules and regulations regarding the dimensions of the golf ball have changed several times.
However, before the beginning of the 1980s, the standard golf ball size was considerably smaller, coming in at 1.62 inches. To be honest, though, if you’re an everyday club golfer and held both golf balls in your hands, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the difference.
Modern-Day Rules And Golf Ball Size
How many of you knew that it wasn’t until 1990 that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and the United States Golf Association finally agreed on the dimension of the humble golf ball. You would’ve thought they had come together earlier, especially considering that you can’t play golf without a golf ball.
Prior to the two associations coming together, the USGA used a minimum golf ball size of 1.68 inches. On the other hand, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews officially recognized the size of their golf balls as 1.62 inches.
Many American PGA pro golfers felt that a smaller ball was an unfair advantage because it was easier to sink putts.
Here are the guidelines for today’s game:
- The golf ball diameter must be a minimum of 1.68 inches
- The golf ball mas must be a minimum of 1.620oz
It is also important to note that there are further restrictions on specifications like velocity, distance, and symmetry.
The British Open Golf Ball Controversy
Undoubtedly, the British Open is the most famed and celebrated Major Tournament in the history of golf. The British Open is played on links-style golf courses that test even the best players on the world stage.
Links-style golf courses are known for their thick fescue roughs, strong winds, and extreme weather conditions; they’re also known for one other thing; small golf balls. Up until the 1980s, the British Open was still officially recognizing their smaller ball, which meant golfers coming from the US could use the PGA ball that was bigger than the R&A golf ball.
As you would expect, the greats of the game, like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, couldn’t wait to use the smaller golf ball because it was easier to hole putts. One of the greatest golfers of all time, Tom Watson won three British Open during the 1980s; I wonder what size golf ball Tom used?
Three Types Of Golf Balls
That’s right; three types of golf balls are sold and used in golf tournaments.
Three types of golf balls:
- Two-piece golf ball
- Three-piece golf ball
- Multi-layer golf ball
A two-piece golf ball is manufactured by wrapping a rubber core around an inner shell, hence a “two-piece.” These golf balls fly further and are harder, but they spin less and are designed for high handicappers and beginners.
A three-piece golf ball, as the name suggests, is manufactured using a three-step process. The three-piece golf ball offers golfers a considerably better feel than its two-piece counterpart, but it will set you back a pretty penny.
Finally, you have the multi-layer golf ball. These golf balls are used by the PGA Tour pros and top amateur golfers. They cost an arm and a leg but offer golfers the ultimate amount of feel yet compromise nothing when it comes to maximizing distance. Have you ever seen golfers fishing out golf balls from the water hazard? Now you know what they’re looking for.