History of the Golf Ball

Featherie Golf Balls

It is commonly believed that hard wooden, round balls were the first balls used for golf between the 14th through the 17th centuries. Though they were undoubtedly used for other similar contemporary stick and ball games, made from hardwoods such as beech and box trees, there is no definite evidence that they were used in golf in Scotland. It is equally, if not more likely, that leather balls filled with cows’ hair were used, imported from The Netherlands from at least 1486 onwards.  Then or later, the featherie ball was developed and introduced. A featherie, or feathery, is a hand-sewn round leather pouch stuffed with chicken or goose feathers and coated with paint, usually white in color. The volume measurement for the feathers was a gentleman’s top hat full of feathers. The feathers were boiled and softened before they were stuffed into the leather pouch.  Making a featherie was a tedious and time-consuming process. An experienced ball maker could only make a few balls in one day, and so they were expensive. A single ball would cost between 2 shillings and 5 shillings, which is the equivalent of 10 to 20 US dollars today.

There were a few drawbacks to the featherie. First, it was hard to make a perfectly round, spherical ball, and because of this, the featherie often flew irregularly. Also, when the featherie became too wet, its distance would be reduced, and there was a possibility of its splitting open upon impact when hit or when hitting the ground or other hard surface. Despite these, the featherie was still a dramatic improvement over the wooden ball, and remained the standard golf ball well into the 19th century.

Featherie golf ball.JPG

Golf Balls have come a long way since that time.  There are a ton of companies the manufacture golf balls.

Some of my favorites are  Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, and Maxfli.  Here is some information about them:

1. Titleist (pronounced  “title-ist”) is an American brand name golf equipment and apparel products produced by the Acushnet subsidiary, which is headquartered in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, United States. It was founded in 1932 by Philip E. Young, and is a subsidiary of the South Korean company.
The name Titleist is derived from the word “titlist”, which means “title holder”.  Several marketing mottos have been promoted for the Titleist brand, including “The #1 ball in golf”, “Serious clubs for serious golfers”, “It’s not how you mark your golf ball, it’s how you mark your Titleist”.

2. Callaway in 1996 announced the development of a new golf ball, under the leadership of Chuck Yash, the former head of Taylormade Golf. Callaway Golf spent three years developing its new golf ball and a state-of-the-art production facility. The company’s entry into the market represented a $170 million investment in the research and development of the ball.  Callaway’s manufacturing facility and its equipment were designed specifically for the unique production requirements for the new ball.

Callaway Golf Ball Company engineers, recruited from Du Pont and Boeing, used aerodynamic computer programs (first used by Boeing and General Electric) to evaluate more than 300 dimple patterns and more than 1,000 variations of ball cores, boundary layers, and cover materials to create the new Rule 35 ball.  Callaway engineers designed only two models of the Rule 35 ball—choosing to develop a “complete-performance” ball rather than separate balls developed for spin, control, distance, and durability. Ely Callaway explained the company’s product development objectives as follows: “We have combined all of the performance benefits into one ball so players no longer need to sacrifice control for distance, or feel, or durability. Each Rule 35 ball contains a unique synergy of distance, control, spin, feel and durability characteristics. This eliminates confusion and guesswork in trying to identify the golf ball that is right for each individual golfer.”

3. TaylorMadeAdidas Golf Company (TMaG or TMaGC) is a manufacturer of golf clubs, bags and accessories based in Carlsbad, California,  United States. It is a subsidiary of the German company Adidas Group. The company is currently the largest golf equipment and apparel company in the world with sales estimated EUR $1.3 billion in 2012.
TaylorMade’s initial success came with the innovation of metal drivers, which debuted in 1979 and have subsequently dominated the golf market.  TaylorMade continued to grow throughout the 1990s, largely due to the introduction of the successful Burner Bubble franchise. In September 2012, Outside Magazine named TaylorMade one of America’s “Best Places to Work”, ranking sixth out of 10 selected large companies and 32nd overall.

Currently, the company markets TaylorMade drivers, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, golf balls and accessories. It is claimed that PGA Tour Professionals play more TaylorMade drivers than Callaway, Cleveland, Cobra, Nike and Ping combined.  The company’s major equipment claims, promoted in marketing materials with small “No. 1” shields, include: No. 1 Driver in Golf, No. 1 Fairway in Golf and No. 1 Irons in Golf.

4. Maxfli is a brand of sports equipment, most recognized for its golf balls, currently owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dick’s purchased the brand from TaylorMade-adidas Golf on February 11, 2008, however, the Noodle trademark and all golf ball patents remained with TMaG.
Maxfli was previously owned by the Dunlop Slazenger group before its acquisition my TMaG in 2003.  While under TMaG ownership, the brand underwent a change in focus from premium balls, such as Black Max and Red Max, to distance balls such as the Fire and the already successful Noodle, as TMaG looked to use its own TaylorMade brand in the high end golf ball market.  The Maxfli brand and trademark was originally created by the sports division of the Dunlop Tire and Rubber Corporation, headquartered in Buffalo, New York.

I use all of those golf balls and that is how I rank them as my favorites.

What is great, you can go to my “Review Page” and click on Amazon Golf.  Amazon will give you the best price available on any Golf Balls that you would like to purchase.  Check it out!

That gives you some background on the Golf Ball!

Please let me see your comments below.



4 Replies to “History of the Golf Ball”

  1. Thanks for sharing insight on golf balls new and old. I always wondered what they used way back when. Ten to twenty dollars a ball is outrageous!

    I recently played an unforgiving course and lost at least a dozen balls, probably 40 or so between the 5 of us. Yes, a fivesome is odd but it was my birthday and they let us group up anyhow.

    Callaway Rule 35 golf balls sound interesting. I am overwhelmed by all the choices golf balls and don’t feel like I’m good enough (best round on a par 72 is a 91) to fully utilize different balls. I like the sound of one golf ball for all situations.

    Although I love to play any sport well, I’m happy with scoring a par or two and getting to spend time with friends for half the day.

    1. I appreciate your great comments. You golf and score like the majority of us golfers. As long as we are having fun that is the most important thing. Playing golf with our friends keeps friendships growing forever.

      I am glad you enjoyed the History of the Golf Ball.

      Thank you,


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