Golf Balls: The Era of Mass Production

Golf balls are the one thing every golfer will use each and every time he makes a shot. Whether it’s teeing off or putting it into a hole, the ball will be the one thing that will remain constant.

It is no wonder why so many people care so much about the ball that they use. People wonder what kind of ball would give them the best advantage. It wasn’t always likes this though.

There used to be a time when things were a lot simpler, a lot less complicated. Back when golf was not as popular or celebrated as it is today. This was a time when golf was more game than sport.

The very first golf balls

Understanding what golf balls are today means go back to their time of origin, a time when people just started playing the game. The game of golf originated from Scotland. There, the first balls used to play golf were made out of wood. One of the oldest documented references to the wooden ball can be traced to 1550.


golf ballBy the 17th century introduced new kinds of balls. These balls were referred to as a ‘Featherie’ and were made from a combination of animal leather and feathers. The feathers were stuffed into a sphere fashioned out of horse or cow leather. The process was done while both were wet. Once it was left to dry, the ball’s leather would shrink, while the feathers would expand. This created a very tough a compact ball.

The ball was handcrafted by skilled craftsmen. This meant that the quality of each ball varied from one craftsman to another, which is why some of them started writing their signature to show their work.

The ball is considered a sort of rich man’s ball. Being handcrafted meant that the poor were unable to afford to buy handcrafted golf balls.

Mass production begins

Railways contributed to the spread of golf. This gave rise to a need to feed the demand for balls. The first balls to be mass produced were made out of rubber. The material resources necessary to mass produce these rubber balls were easy to acquire. This can probably be considered as the start when mass production balls entered main stream use.
The advantage of these rubber balls is that they can be repaired. Heating the rubber balls allowed them to be reshaped and reconditioned into better form.

Adding design

The featherie was a still popular ball up until somewhere during the late 1800’s. It’s long standing popularity was a result of its superior performance.

Featheries were made from leather; this made them prone to damage or wear and tear as they continued to get smacked. Players began to notice that featheries that were worn and torn traveled further than newer balls or mass produced balls. It turns out; the imperfections produced turbulence in the air that allowed the ball to fly over a larger distance.

Eventually, manufacturers of mass produced balls got a hold of this information. It was then that they decided to incorporate certain designs on their balls in order to recreate the turbulence that gave featheries an advantage.

The fall of the featherie

Mass produced balls began to catch up with the featheries in terms of performance as time went on. The advantage of these mass produced balls was that they could very easily be replaced. Mass produced balls were extremely cheaper when compared to the handcrafted featherie.

Eventually, golfers began to exclusively use the mass produced balls. These balls eventually fell out of fashion, but the earliest mass produced golf balls is what caused the end of the featherie and the beginning of a new era for the sport.

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