Nowadays, the governing body of every sport strictly imposes rules and regulations encompassing the athlete’s behavior up to the playing equipment he uses. In fact, even a sport that involves no contact between the players such as golf requires more rigid rules when it comes to equipment as compared to other sports.
Standardization of Golf Ball
Golf balls and golf clubs must first be tested by the two governing bodies of golf. These are the United States Golf Association whose in-charge with golf in the US and Mexico and The R&A, a group of companies that rule the said sport throughout the rest of the world.
In contrast, the testing and approval of golf clubs are less restrictive than those of golf balls. You can use any kind of golf ball for leisure or practice. However, a specific weight and diameter standards must be met for tournaments. If you are caught using a golf ball that didn’t pass the set standards, you will be given a penalty. The standard weight is 45.93 grams or 1.62 oz while the standard diameter is 42.67 mm or 1.68 in. Aside from this attributes, the performance of a golf ball is tested as well. Specifically, the authorities in golf will approve the symmetry limits, distance, and velocity of a ball.
Early Forms of Golf Ball
The earliest known golf balls were carved from wood. These were used in the first games of golf in the 16th century. In the first quarter of the succeeding century, small balls covered in cow or horsehide was stuffed with goose feather. The feather-stuffed balls were more preferred than wood-made balls because these were easier to make.
The popularity of the feather-stuffed balls lasted for more than a century. However, it was dethroned by another invention in the mid-1880s. A natural ingredient was again used, in the form of gutta sap. Gutta is a type of tree common in East Asian countries. The sap was shaped into a ball and the product was a rubber-like golf ball. This innovation became more popular than feather-stuffed balls because gutta-made balls, also known as Guttie, were better shaped.
After a decade, these early forms of golf balls were made using machines. But it had a disadvantage. Gutties were not as efficient as feather-stuffed balls when it comes to flight. Innovations were made after 10 more years. This time, a golf ball was covered in thread.
In the early 1990s, balls were modified by having lump-like protrusions. The change was supposed to enhance the ball’s flight. This change also led to the presence of dimples in the balls used in golf these days. The dimpled ones were found out to be better in enhancing the ball’s flight.
The Rules of Golf was produced and issued by the USGA and The R&A. Both of these organizations reserve the right to interpret the contents of the Rules of Golf. The rules for the ball are provided in Rule 5 of the said rule book. The Rules and Equipment Committee of The R&A collaborates with USGA for the revision and interpretation the Rules of Golf.
Aside from the aforementioned physical attributes of a golf ball, it must be listed as one of the pre-approved golf balls first. Adding an element to enhance the ball’s flight is not allowed. It will cost a player a penalty in a game.
Any deformation or damage in a golf ball will be declared unsuitable for play. A replacement without penalty serves as a solution. You or your competitors may argue a deformed golf ball. However, you should tell your competitors first that you are going to inspect your golf ball. In addition, you have to indicate the location before you lift it. You are not allowed to clean the ball as well. If you missed one of these requisites, you will be given a one-stroke penalty.
There are additional rules for golf balls in the succeeding parts of the rule book. If you want to get proficient in this spot, you have to master the inspection of the balls. Otherwise, you may be given two-stroke penalty if you substituted a good golf ball with an unfit one.