In our last installment (History of the Golf Ball – Part 1) we got as far as the “feathery.” You know, the ball that was made out of leather and stuffed with feathers? Well, obviously these left some room for improvement. Fortunately, we got it.
Somewhere around the mid-1800s someone invented the next break-through in golf ball technology. Nope, not the Titleist Pro V1. It was the gutta percha ball, also affectionately known as the “guttie.” These little beauties were real game changers (pun intended). For starters, they were actually round – instead of sort of round. They were also affordable and could be massed produced (instead of hand-stitched one by one). This made golf accessible for the first time to the average working stiff, resulting in an explosion of new courses and equipment.
So, what exactly was a guttie? Simple. They were made from sap from the Sapodilla tree, heated and poured into a round mold. Were they perfect? No. They were rock hard – like teeing off with a billiard ball. And they tended to break up in mid-air. But hey, still a big leap for golf-kind.
Plus, they inspired another great advancement in golf ball technology. Supposedly, as gutties got nicked and beat up, people noticed that they flew longer and straighter, So, people began experimenting with all kinds of markings like ball protrusions and dents made with hammers. Many years later this would lead to dimples – but more on that in installment 3. Or if you just can’t wait, you can read the entire History of the Golf Ball here.