Golf balls might look simple, but there is actually a huge amount of ever-advancing technology which goes into their construction. Engineers consider all avenues to ensure these balls fly as far and as straight as possible, but just what is it inside them that helps to achieve this? Well, every ball isn’t created equal, and what’s inside a golf ball depends on whether they are a one-piece, two-piece, or three-piece ball. Generally though, all balls share some basic similarities with one another.
The core is one aspect of a golf ball which is pretty universal. The only exception is one-piece balls, which are generally made of a material like surlyn from the inside all the way out. Any other type of ball, however, will have an inner core. If you’ve ever seen a golf ball cut in half, you’ll probably have noticed the interior of it is made of a rubbery material. This is the core, and is often constructed out of a synthetic rubber mixed with metal components.
The core isn’t always constructed out of these materials though. Other balls use materials which more closely resemble plastic. Recently, a Nike ball came out which uses a material not unlike resin in the core. Clearly, there are a number of different material combinations which can be used to make the core, with most manufacturers opting for a unique blend of their own making, and a list of those used for a number of popular balls was created by renowned media outlet the Daily Mail. Exactly what the impact of each subtle variation is, we’ll leave to the engineers.
From here, the construction depends on how many pieces the ball is made out of. Major companies are continually adding more and more pieces to a ball, but typically the most common type of ball for experienced golfers is a three-piece, so we’ll focus on that for now. Obviously there are three components to this ball, with the core being the first, and innermost. Following that, you have the inner layer.
The inner layer is essentially a material wrapped tightly around the core. In most balls, this material is a synthetic rubber or plastic, though it can vary depending on the manufacturer. For example, Titleist uses thermoplastic resins to wrap around the core. If you’re like me, this might not mean much to you, but basically this is a malleable type of resin, which can be molded into the desired shape of the manufacturer.
If you’re wondering how some manufacturers make balls which have four or even five pieces, it’s basically by extending the number of inner layers. A typical three-piece ball will have the core, the inner layer, and the outer layer – which we’ll get to in a minute. A four-piece ball has a couple of layers between the core and the outer layer, and a five-piece ball has three layers between the core and the outer layer. These layers generally get progressively firmer as you move outwards from the core.
To get a look at what really goes on in the construction of a golf ball, take a look at this video, created by leading golf-ball manufacturer Titleist. It gives a great insight into the individual layers of a golf ball, and how one type of ball can differ from another.
The outer layer is technically not a part of the inside of a golf ball, but it is still a necessary component of the ball and worth including in the discussion. This is the part of the ball which you can see, feel, and which your club makes contact with. The dimpled cover is simple enough to explain – it’s generally made out of one of either urethane or surlyn. Surlyn is very durable and often offers greater distance, but less spin. Urethane, in contrast, is a softer material, and while it is less durable, it provides a much greater element of ‘feel’, and is preferred by high quality golfers.
The exact construction of different golf balls is never identical, but there are several components which are consistent across all varieties. Excluding one-piece balls, which are reserved exclusively for practice, balls consist of a core, anywhere from one to three inner layers, and the outer layer. If you’re still intrigued by the differences between balls, check out this video by Golf Digest. Cutting open golf balls yourself can be tricky and a little dangerous, so why not leave it to the experts? If you have any more questions about what’s inside a golf ball, feel free to comment below.