Equipment takes shapeThe earliest golf balls were made of box wood. Feather-stuffed balls were introduced in the 17th century. They were about the same size as a modern golf ball and could travel almost 200 yards if well struck. But they cost a lot and took ages to make. The gutta percha was unveiled in 1848 by the Rev Dr Robert Adams. Made of a mould taken from the sap of the Malaysian Sapodilla tree, it was harder, cheaper to buy and lasted longer. They were also easy to repair.
At first they were made by hand, but then presses were used. They took a while to become popular with golfers who found them difficult to hit. The Rubber Core ball was patented in 1898 in America by Coburn Haskell and Bertram Works. It was made by winding elastic around a core and covering it in gutta percha. The ball was much bouncier and travelled further when it was hit with an iron club. But it was also very expensive and only became popular when people realised that some of the professionals of the day were using it.
By 1914, the gutty ball was no longer used by golfers. Modern balls are made in two pieces with a solid centre or core, making them easier to play with. The dimple pattern on the ball is now marked on the outside of the ball in geometrical patterns rather than in straight lines. The pattern on the outside of the ball helps it to fly through the air better. In the early days players carved their own basic clubs from wood. The feather-stuffed ball meant clubs no longer had to withstand the impact of striking a solid wooden ball. So exquisite wooden clubs could be fashioned from ash, thorn, apple and pear wood.
When the gutty ball appeared in 1848, iron head clubs began to surface. The irons were more suited to the harder ball as wooden club makers began searching for materials that would make the ball go further.
The Open is born