Timber balls were the rage
Learn the history behind today’s great game
QUITE a few things have changed since the days of the 1550s when golf was played with wooden balls.
In 1618 the feather golf ball or “featherie” was introduced.
They were handmade balls made with goose feathers tightly packed into a horse or cow hide.
The ball was then painted to finish it off.
These were rather expensive balls and only the rich could afford to play.
Often the wooden balls were more expensive than the clubs.
Gutta percha ball or “guttie” in 1848 was invented and this ball was made from the rubber-like sap of the gutta tree.
Not only could the ball be inexpensively formed this way, it could also be easily fixed by warming it up and reshaping it to its original form.
The gutties had a smooth exterior which meant that they did not travel as far as the featheries.
After 1880, gutties were produced with shapes on their exterior in an attempt to reproduce the distances scored using a featherie.
With the Victorians came industrialisation and mechanisation, and by 1890, gutties were being made in moulds which further increased their affordability, consistency and quality.
Many of the rubber companies, like Dunlop, began mass-producing balls which killed off the handcrafted ball business.