Despite their small size, golf balls remain one of the sport balls that have undergone so much transformation since invention. Being critical to a golf game, any beginner should start their golf education with understanding the basics of their equipment, and not only on the game mechanics.
Under the rules, a ball to be used in golf should have a diameter no less than 42.67 millimeters or 1.68 inches. It should also weigh no more than 45.93 grams or 1.62 ounces. Its velocity, symmetry and distance should be specified within limits. Although, there is a range for the features allowed within regulation, the balls, whatever play they are going to be used for in a golf game, will be subject to the approval by the presiding authority. This would be either one of the two organizations – United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews – that imposes the rules and regulations of golfing. The testing and approval of the balls are much the same as the process undergone by the clubs.
This is important because there are balls that are specially made for certain plays. There is a rich variety of player choices, like those balls that are designed to enhance the control a player can have over them, golf balls that provide increased distance, or those that are perfect – and actually only allowed – for practice.
Meanwhile, the standards on the balls placed by USGA and R&A can get really detailed. While the diameter and weight limits are obviously required, other regulations are mentioned in the technical documents that are regularly updated by these two organizations. These mention the rule that the balls must have the basic properties of a sphere. That means that the ball on its own should be spherical and that the dimples are arranged symmetrically on the ball’s surface. Additional regulations include radius and depth of the ball’s dimples, the maximum launch speed – to be tested by special apparatus – and the maximum distance upon launching, which is also to be measured by the testing equipment.
Basically, the restrictions are updated to maintain the fairness of the sport, as well as the traditional form of the game and its equipment. That is to say, without completely blocking new technology from the equipment production and design.
The launch angle, spin rate, and the velocity of the ball are determined by the impact – which lasts for less than a millisecond – when the ball is hit. These factors all influence the trajectory or travel path of the golf balls. Now, this would involve two concepts of aerodynamics, drag and lift. The combined effect of these two is the reason why the dimpled design can fly father than the earlier smooth-surfaced balls.
To avoid long talks of aerodynamics jargon, let it just be said that the dimples on the balls decrease the drag applied by the air on the flying ball. Because of the reduction in the pressure caused by drag, the ball can then travel farther. The angle or loft of a golf club provides backspin to a shot. The backspin gives additional lift or upward force to the ball, letting it fly higher, for longer. For this features to work well, the ball has to be clean, which includes the tiny dimples. This is the reason why golfers wash their ball as often as they are allowed in the game. They can do this with a wet towel or some other type of ball washer.
There are currently many types of golf balls available in the market. Using engineering and design, manufacturers can create balls – within regulation – that can enhance a player’s game. Because of the many types and models available, buyers are often confused with their purchase. There are less expensive balls meant for recreational games, which are built for average golfers who may easily lose the ball along the course. There are also balls engineered for advanced players, who have specific requirements for the balls to be used in their plays. These usually cost more but are designed to match certain characteristics and golfer skill levels. With the many brands, colors, types and price ranges, coming up with a single choice will definitely be difficult. That is why understanding what the types can do for your games, and knowing the techniques required to maneuver each one is a must learn for these balls!