What’s in a golf ball?

Photo from Golfballs.com

What would golf be without golf balls? Obviously golf balls are one of the most important aspects of playing the game, and for some of us, the most expensive. But when we launch one into someone’s backyard or a creek, what exactly are we losing?

There are primarily two types of golf balls that manufacturers produce and they are defined by their covers, Surlyn or Ionomer, and Urethane.

Surlyn/Ionomer Golf Balls

Photo From Golf Info Guide


Surlyn is a specific type of Ionomer polymer and was created by the company DuPoint. They have very similar characteristics, so for ease I will refer to them generally as Ionomers. Ionomers are the slightly harder and more durable outer layer. This harder layer will make it feel stiffer when hitting and it will go farther with less spin than a ball with a Urethane cover. If you are someone who struggles with spin, then Surlyn will mitigate that issue. Another pro is that Ionomers are more durable and cheaper, so if you are someone who is worried about the longevity of your golf balls, then Ionomers will outlast Urethane balls.

Urethane Golf Balls

Photo From Golf Info Guide


Urethane is the material that is usually used by the Pros. Every expensive, high-end ball is most likely made with Urethane. They are fantastic due to their superior spin and control when hitting, so for someone who is capable of controlling their shot and wants a softer feel, Urethane has a clear advantage. Perhaps the biggest cons are their increased price and less durability, although for the average golfer it is unlikely the golf ball won’t be retired by anything other than a poor shot.

The Insides Of A Golf Ball

Photo by James Friedman


The Insides of golf balls are very specific from ball to ball, but they have some very common aspects. They are composed of a hard rubber center surrounded by a number of hard layers. The more layers the harder the ball will be to compress, and most companies state the number of layers with the maximum usually being five, although most balls are less. The specifics of each layer vary and so do their properties, but combined they amount to varying feels and spins.

What should beginners know about the inside of a golf ball?

If you are a beginning golfer it is probably best to start out with a Ionomer/Surlyn cover ball for a few reasons. The biggest being price, the early days of golfing include many lost balls, and there is less pain when each lost ball is $2 as opposed to $4. Secondly, you probably are not able to control the spin, so having a ball that will fly pretty straight off the face is a major plus until you can start controlling it more. Once you have more experience and are invested into golf, it may be time to switch to Urethane. You probably are losing fewer balls, and have a little more control of the ball. However the best way to figure out what works for you is just trying different styles and brands of balls. Most stores sell individual sleeves of balls so you can try three balls without being committed to a dozen at a much higher cost. The best way to improve is by finding the right ball for you, so experiment and good luck!

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