The Core of Modern Golf Balls

By Adam BarrFebruary 19, 2005, 5:00 pm
When we were kids, before we knew what golf balls were really for, much delight could be gathered with an old Titleist and a hacksaw. (Go ahead; deny it if you can.)
 
Gee, those windings seemed to go on forever, didnt they? And in the middle, there was the core, sometimes liquid-filled. You could see, stretch, and bounce the physical evidence that these things could really zip off a clubface.
 
Fast-forward 35 years to my own garage, where I have put the hacksaw out of reach of anyone under six feet tall. That wont keep my son away from golf ball surgery forever, though, as he insists on getting taller and more resourceful.
 
But what will the second generation of Barr golf-ball cutters find? Not the wound technology of just a decade ago, but a huge, super-ball-like rubber core encased in an impossibly thin, durable cover.
 
Thats the modern golf ball. Even when you get past the dimples and open them to the world, todays balls have no visible technology such as windings and a liquid center. Instead, there is a uniform orb of polybutadiene (mostly) that bounces and flies better than anything the industry has yet devised.
 
Why?
 
Theres been a capability of generating high ball speed for years, but not necessarily at a low compression rate, says Steve Ogg, senior director of product customization for Callaway Golf. The old high-speed balls were hard balls that spun too much off the driver. Now, low core compressions keep the spin rate down off the driver.
 
Rubber cores have been around ever since the Molitor, says Mike Pai, vice president of marketing for Srixon, the golf arm of a huge Japanese rubber company. The elasticity of the material itself, weve been able to improve. The solid rubber core of today compared to one of 15 or 20 years ago is much better. Its being able to work with different chemicals and additives.
 
Ah, now were getting somewhere. Better rubber, better additives, better driver spin. There are indeed various additives that make modern golf ball cores more elastic, and those formulae are the secrets the companies take such pains to protect. But those add-ins are also necessary to make the balls come to the proper weight for their size, which is generally 1.68 inches in diameter. Pure polybutadiene would be too light at that size.
 
So the real competition in cores is in finding ' or developing ' the additives that makes a ball zip for its target swing speed.
 
Our Z-UR model has an additive called PBDS, a proprietary material that essentially enhances the elasticity, Pai says. Thats for pentabromophenyldisulfide.
 
Uh-huh. Thanks.
 
Well, theyre the experts. And thats why Mike moved past my multi-syllabic confusion to change the point of view on the whole modern ball inquiry.
 
The cover of the Z-UR is 19.7 one-thousandths of an inch.and still durable. And that allows a bigger core within the 1.68 inches, Pai says. Rubber is the most resilient material in a golf ball, and it gives the ball speed, plain and simple. The more of it you have, all things being equal, the more speed youre going to get.
 
And thin covers do more than just make room for more core.
 
Its not so much the size of the core, Ogg says. Its the reduction in spin off the driver that you get with a thinner cover. The difference between a 60 thou[sandths of an inch-thick] cover and a 30 thou cover isnt nearly so much a matter of improved resilience as it is a cause of less driver spin.
 
And as everyone from tour players to tyros has discovered, too much driver spin increases drag, which of course fights lift and robs the tee ball of distance. Keeping backspin under control is one of the four tasks of launch-monitor-assisted club and ball fitting. (The other three are maximizing initial ball velocity, optimizing launch angle, and working with a players clubhead speed.)
 
Before thinner covers came along, Ogg says, tour quality balls were so spinny that dimples had to be deep to keep spin under control. Those same deep dimples created an undesirable amount of drag. With modern thinner covers, dimples naturally cant ' and dont have to be ' as deep.
 
Oh, and those covers ' the materials are crucial. Urethane is the material of choice for three-piece balls, which usually include an intermediate boundary layer made of an ionomer. That middle layer does more than just provide a hard surface for the driver to smack against ' it also keeps oxygen away from the rubber core, something urethane cant do. If oxygen reaches the core, the core will oxidize and lose its resilience, like your windshield wipers, Ogg says.
 
Thats why two-piece balls dont use urethane covers. Instead, they use softer ionomers such as DuPonts Surlyn (an 'ionomer-class thermoplastic resin,' as DuPont's Surlyn website calls it), or urethane-elastomer combinations. Either can be made appropriately soft for short-game satisfaction, while still keeping oxygen from the core.
 
Now, we all know that golfers from the ancient Scots to that guy Scott in your Saturday foursome have never given a tinkers dimple for core size, cover thickness, or any of that stuff. They just want performance. But knowledge is power, and all that information on the back of the ball box means something. Shop wisely, or at least narrow your field of trial-and-error options.
 
Not all multi-layer performance balls are going to work for all players, says Pai. The high-compression balls are definitely not going to work for an 85-mph swinger. If you cant deform the ball enough because the balls too firm for your swing speed, youre going to lose distance.
 
And if you know what to buy, youll gain it. Now, put down that hacksaw.
 
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Garcia among bubble boys keeping playoff hopes alive

By Randall MellAugust 18, 2018, 12:34 am

Sergio Garcia gave himself a chance to keep his perfect FedExCup Playoffs record going with his rally Friday at the Wyndham Championship.

D.A. Points moved into position to make a historic leap into the postseason.

And Johnson Wagner dunked his last shot of the day from long range to keep his hopes of making the playoffs alive.

But the day didn’t end nearly as well for Tyrone Van Aswegen’s FedExCup hopes.

Van Aswegen didn’t do himself any favors trying to hold on to the 125th spot on the FedExCup points list. He missed the cut by a shot.

Only the top 125 advance to The Northern Trust and next week’s start to the playoffs.

Van Aswegen wasn’t alone among “bubble boys” missing the cut. No. 122 Jhonattan Vegas, No. 123 Seamus Power, No. 124 Martin Piller, No. 126 Chad Campbell and No. 127 Robert Garrigus all failed to make the weekend.

Garcia is among 13 players who have advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs every year since they began in 2007, but his run was in jeopardy of ending starting the week. He’s 131st on the FedExCup points list

With a 65 Friday following his opening round 66, Garcia is in more than a great position to advance. He’s in position to win the Wyndham. He is tied for fourth, five shots off the lead. The day ended with Garcia projected to move up to 118th on the FedExCup points list.


Wyndham Championship: Full-field scores | Full coverage

Current FedExCup points list


“I'm just going to try to keep building on the things that I did well these first two days,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens, happens. Like I said at the beginning of the week, if I have a great weekend, then it will be great. If I don't have a great weekend, it will still be great because

I'll get to rest.”

Points started the week 214th on the FedExCup points list. With back-to-back 64s, he trails only Brandt Snedeker going into the weekend. He’s projected to move to 81st in points. Nobody has ever started the Wyndham Championship that far back in points and qualified for the playoffs. Davis Love III was 186th when he won and advanced in 2015.

Wagner, 136th on the FedExCup points list, went to spectacular lengths Friday to keep his playoff hopes alive. He was outside the cut line until holing his 153-yard approach at the last.

Bill Haas, who is among those 13 players to have qualified for the playoffs every year, started the week 150th in points. He can keep his perfect playoff record going with a big weekend. He shot 68 Friday to make the cut. He’s tied for 52nd in the tournament.

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Points two back after missing 16 of 17 cuts

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:54 pm

What’s the better story come Sunday?

Brandt Snedeker turning his 59 in the opening round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship?

Or D.A. Points winning after missing 16 cuts in his last 17 starts?

They’re both scripts in the works at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

Points, who has been struggling this season with a herniated disc that causes numbness in his fingers, has broken through his season-long funk to shoot back-to-back 64s. He starts the weekend in second place, two shots behind Snedeker.


Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

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“It's been difficult,” Points said of his slump. “It's been hard on my family. I was in this position a couple years ago, and I clawed my way back and won in Puerto Rico.

“I had that big downturn, and I clawed my way out of it just to find myself way back down in another deep hole again.”

Points, 41, is a three-time PGA Tour winner. He won his first title playing alongside Bill Murray at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2011 and two years later won the Shell Houston Open. He slipped into a three-year funk after that, before rebuilding his game and winning the Puerto Rico Open last year.

“Hopefully, this is my way of starting to claw back out,” Points said.

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New 'Mr. 59' Snedeker needs Day 2 rally to keep Wyndham lead

By Randall MellAugust 17, 2018, 11:24 pm

Brandt Snedeker struggled coming off the emotional high that comes with shooting 59, but it didn’t stop him from rallying Friday to try to turn his historic round into a victory at the Wyndham Championship.

After a sluggish start to the second round, Snedeker caught fire on the back nine at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., to take the lead going into the weekend.

With a 3-under 67, Snedeker moved to 14 under overall, two shots ahead of D.A. Points (64).

“I knew it was going to be tough” Snedeker said. “It wasn't going to be the same way it was yesterday. Kind of battling the emotion of everybody pulling hard for you, wanting to see you do it again. So the front nine was disappointing.”

A day after becoming the ninth player in PGA Tour history to post a sub-60 tournament round, Snedeker opened with three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine. He said it was a struggle to begin anew.


Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

Wyndham Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“You hear people telling you every two seconds, `Mr. 59,’ or saying how cool it was to watch it,” Snedeker said. “Phone's still blowing up this morning, guys in the locker room are still talking to me about it. So, yes, totally on your mind. You can't ignore it. You can't try to forget about it. Hardest thing is trying to get back into a rhythm.”

Snedeker did with an eagle and two birdies on the back nine. Rolling in a 30-foot eagle putt at the 15th gave him back the lead he lost earlier in the round.

“To see that go in was huge,” Snedeker said.

Not every player to break 60 on the PGA Tour has gone on to win. In fact, Snedeker is looking to become just the fifth player to do so.

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Garwood (64) leads Dick's Sporting Goods Open

By Associated PressAugust 17, 2018, 9:53 pm

ENDICOTT, N.Y. - Doug Garwood birdied the final three holes for an 8-under 64 and the first-round lead Friday in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open.

The 55-year-old Garwood had nine birdies and a bogey, playing his final nine holes - the front nine at En-Joie Golf Club - in 6-under 31.

''Drove it well, hit the irons well, pitched well, putted well, thought well,'' Garwood said. ''I got to a point I was just making birdies and I kind of lost track of how it was going,'' Garwood said. ''That's always a good thing.''

He won the 2016 SAS Championship for his lone PGA Tour Champions title.


Full-field scores from the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


"I haven't been playing great this year, but I've been working hard on my game and things I've been working on are paying off,'' Garwood said. ''My golf, I take it a shot at a time, don't think about too far in advance because you really can't control, you know, the 13th hole tomorrow. It's just about the tee shot on No. 1.''

Michael Bradley and Marco Dawson shot 65, Woody Austin and Clark Dennis followed at 66, and Bob Estes and Tom Gillis were at 67.

''It was a good day,'' Bradley said. ''I've traditionally not driven the ball well here and you've got to drive the ball good here to shoot a good score. I drove the ball well and made a few putts, so that was that.''

Kenny Perry, the 3M Championship winner two weeks ago in Minnesota, had a 68. Bernard Langer and Miguel Angel Jimenez each shot 70. Langer won the 2014 tournament. Jimenez is coming off a victory at St. Andrews in the British Senior Open.

Defending champion Scott McCarron had a 72. Kevin Sutherland also had a 72. He shot the only 59 in PGA Tour Champions history in the 2014 event. John Daly, the winner of the PGA Tour's 1992 B.C. Open at En-Joie, opened with a 73.