You may be surprised to know that golf balls are one of the most iterated and innovative parts of a golfer’s arsenal, due to ever more focused research and development on different configurations aiming at delivering greater distance, accuracy, and consistency, as well as durability and longevity.
An integral part of this design process is the interior of the golf ball, but you’d be surprised how few people, even avid golfers, actually understand the internals of a golf ball and what allows it to handle the forces golfers exert on it, while still being able to remain consistent over 18 holes or more.
In this guide, we’re going to look at what exactly golf balls are made of, and how they are configured internally to allow them to deliver maximum performance.
One-Piece Golf Balls
One-piece golf balls are the most simple design of the ball and are most commonly used by total beginners just starting out in the sport, or at driving ranges where the balls need to be readily available and able to take a lot of serious punishment.
These balls are the least expensive available and easy to make and are typically made of a single piece of Surlyn plastic with dimples added to it by a molding process.
In terms of performance, these balls offer the worst distance and accuracy due to their simplicity but they are very long-lasting and tough.
Two-Piece Golf Balls
Two-piece balls are some of the most common, particularly among average players who want a little bit more finesse and performance than a one-piece ball while still needing something relatively cheap and durable.
The ball uses a large solid core of synthetic rubber in most cases, but different brands may offer slightly different materials for the interior, while the exterior is typically made of a tough urethane layer which is shared by most other multi-piece golf balls. These balls offer better distance and accuracy, while still being reasonably priced for most golfers.
Three-Piece Golf Balls
Three-piece balls were a revolution when they were first released, and offered marked performance improvements over the two-piece balls, by using a totally reinvented interior.
The construction of the balls tends to have a solid rubber or even liquid central layer, followed by a thinner layer of synthetic rubber comparable to the two-piece balls, and then the solid urethane exterior most golf balls today use.
Interestingly, three-piece golf balls are among the most popular choice for professional golfers, with the famous Titleist Pro V1 still using a three-piece design true to its origins, even though newer designs are available.
The Pro V1 is the ball used by Tiger Woods and a host of other PGA Tour players who need the absolute best performance from a golf ball, while still needing consistency and durability due to the high swing speed of these players.
Four-Piece Golf Balls
Next up we have the four-piece golf balls, which have an inner core that is made of solid rubber to offer excellent distance, followed by an inner cover designed to translate maximum energy to this rubber internal core.
Then there is another layer of rubber comparable to the two-piece and three-piece design, albeit a little thinner, followed by the final layer of dimpled urethane to complete and secure the package.
The newer Titleist Pro V1x is an evolution from the original famous design and is used by a lot of professional golfers who want the best performance available.
Five-Piece Golf Balls
These balls are near the cutting edge of golf ball design and are another attempt at extracting even more performance.
Typically the first three layers are made of various materials such as rubber, as well as proprietary liquids, secured in place by a thinner synthetic rubber layer and the standard urethane cover which provide durability and grip.
These balls offer excellent performance, and some examples are the TaylorMade Tp5 and TP5x, as well as the Callaway Speed Regime 2 and 3 series.
Six-Piece Golf Balls
Verging on the experimental, six-piece balls is still being refined and hasn’t been adopted by most golfers or golf brands yet, but testing is no doubt ongoing.
A good example is the Honma Future XX which features a softcore that gets gradually firmer and you get to the exterior layer.
These balls will likely be continually refined and different brands will have variable approaches to the implementation of these ideas, so as yet no fully proven options are available.
What’s The Outer Material Of A Golf Ball?
The outer material of a golf ball is most commonly made of urethane, a popular and tough plastic used in various products that need to be tough while still offering grip and control.
Interestingly, skateboard wheels and roller blade wheels are made of urethane for the same properties, as is the exterior of most golf balls as they too need to be durable and provide grip to the club when they’re hit.
There are also various versions of urethane for a softer or harder exterior meaning brands can offer all kinds of a different feel to suit a golfer’s needs.
Another popular choice is ionomer which isn’t quite as durable as urethane, however, they are cheaper to make and harder, and will work out fine for most beginner golfers with slower swing speeds.
Golf has come a long way in the last twenty to thirty years, with increased athleticism, greater professionalism, and an overhaul of the aesthetic and marketing of the entire sport.
It’s one of the most competitive sports in the world even at an amateur level, and the advancements in technology over this time have led to innovative and groundbreaking changes to various aspects of the sport, from the crucial changes to club design to shoes, gloves, and of course the humble golf ball.