Golf ball is integral part of the game, i think that’s one of the few things all golfers can agree on. The whole game revolves around two key pieces of equipment – golf club and the ball. Everything else – the techniques and hacks to improve your golf game – are just different ways to hit golf ball better. I’m sure the first people to play golf didn’t care about any of that. They only had golf club and ball to worry about. While a lot of people put a lot of effort into choosing the right golf club, the importance of choosing quality golf balls is underrated. In truth, bad golf balls can negatively affect your game as much as good ones improve it. Today, i wanted to discuss history of golf clubs and talk about how important they are. How they came to be and how they have changed over the years.
The origins of first golf balls are rather bleak. Legend goes that, first time someone played golf, he used his wooden stick to hit the rock, which ended up falling in a hole. The player liked this game and started hitting more and more rocks, thus creating the barebone sport of golf as we know it today. But you can probably guess that more than half of this story is likely to be a legend. There is no evidence to back up this story, but i can imagine that origins of the sport were something like that. As time passed and people started getting better, golf became more and more advanced as well. There is historical evidence of games that were similar to golf, by which i mean they were played by stick and stone. Specifically golf, is said to originate from Scotland. According to one version, it was Romans who played a game similar to golf as early as 1 century bc. It was them who spread the popularity of the game as far north as Scotland. From there, different variations of that game were created, and according to this version, golf is just one of the variations of that game. There are problems with this version as well – for one, there is little evidence of the game, and that evidence suggests that it was more hockey-like rather than predecessor of golf.
Historians have tried to trace back origins of golf and found out that such game was played both in China and Netherlands. To me, this suggests that people were coming up with basic game of golf by themselves, rather than being taught by someone else. It’s pretty natural to find joy in hitting the golf ball and aiming it for the hole. French and British have also been hailed as inventors of golf, usually by themselves. That is based on medieval drawings and writings, but we can’t be sure. Overall, i think we have concluded that signs of early golf-like games can be found basically all over the world. In the countries that have no signs of such game, we can objectively assess that the evidence for it were probably lost. To me, playing golf seems as simple as hitting ball with your foot. You can’t really invent something like that, it’s in our instincts, i think.
That’s not the point of this article though. No matter who invented the game itself, in this article we are focusing on the golf ball. First things to be used as golf balls were probably simple round things like rocks. Later on, ball-makers started to make golf balls out of hardwood. First golf balls that came close to the current balls were made in medieval England. Nobility started to adopt the sport, so entire professions dedicated to making golf accessories started to appear. We have historical evidence of a golf ball maker in 17th century who struck a deal with the king of england for the exclusive right of making golf balls for him. At that game, golf balls were made of feathers, with layer on leather on the outside. Those balls remained extremely popular all over Europe until as late as 20th century. These balls, unlike hardwood balls or any other type used before, had the exact right amount of hardness required for golf. One big disadvantage that those balls had was that they couldn’t be used in rain, which is very common in Britain. Once the ball became wet, it was unusable and you had to wait for it to dry again. Other, much smaller disadvantage was that it was hard to make and therefore too expensive for most people. Lords and Kings could afford them, but not regular people. It is said that feather-made golf balls were sometimes more expensive than golf clubs. Because of this high cost, it was lucrative work and there were entire dynasties devoted to perfecting the art of making golf balls in England.
Bothered with all these complications, at the eve of 20th century, young golf enthusiast in Scotland invented a golf ball that could be easily and cheaply manufactured. It was called the Guttie. This one invention practically revolutionized whole golf industry at the time. Cheaper golf clubs meant more access to the game, and forming of working class meant that people were looking for affordable hobbies. This presented an opportunity for golf club manufacturers, who themselves innovated and found new ways to make golf clubs for cheaper cost. Long story short, this led to forming of golf industry, and from then on, they’ve been constantly innovating.
Modern golf ball was finally invented in the seventies. It was instant hit, it even helped increase golf’s popularity a little bit. Brands are still developing new and better ways to make golf balls. Srixon golf balls are my favorites right now. I look forward to what innovations the future holds and can’t wait to be there when they are unfolded.