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What's Inside? Unlocking the mystery of the golf ball

by Chris Creswell

The most common sight on a golf course is of course, the golf ball and with the popularity of golf, it’s no wonder there are dozens of types of golf balls at your disposal. They range from soft core to liquid core, hard cover to no cover. Prices also range from $10 a dozen to $10 a ball.

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With the extremes and variations in the golf balls available, its no wonder people are having trouble deciding what kind of ball to play with. If you are one of these people, who don’t know Surlyn from Srixon, continue to read on and explore the adventures of the world of Golf Balls.

The Two-Piece Golf Ball

The most common golf ball on the course is the two-piece golf ball. This ball is used by 49% of players. This is a tough, durable ball usually with a solid inner core and a hard Surlyn cover. The most common form of the ball is the ever popular Top Flite XL. These balls have little spin and little feel. They do offer more bang for your buck. For about $15 you can buy a dozen Top Flite XL. The advance two-piece balls do offer more feel. They often have cores made from a soft material, sometimes even liquid. These golf balls offer more feel and cost only a little more, about $20 for a dozen Top Flite XL 2000s. These two piece golf balls are what every beginner should play. With little spin, you are less likely to hook or slice this ball. Also, these balls go farther than balata balls. And at the low price, it won’t take a bite out of your budget.

The Multi-Layer Ball

The second ball is gaining more and more popularity very day. The Multi-layer ball, either three, or four piece golf ball is most commonly used on the PGA tour. These balls usually have a core, one or two layer(s) surrounding that, and then a core. (Similar to earth) The popularity of these balls is quickly surpassing that of balata balls. These balls are slightly more expensive ranging from $30-$40, some even reaching $50. These balls are a bit more expensive but for the more advanced player, averaging low 80’s, upper 70’s on 18 will benefit from them. However, if you are a beginner, I would recommend spending your money on a lesson, rather than on multilayer balls.

The Balata Ball

The final ball is the balata ball. This ball has a rubber band wound core, surrounded by a balata cover. Balata is a rubber-like material, which was once collected from South America, but is now manufactured synthetically. These balls are very flimsy and often will not hold up to the average players round. However, they do offer extraordinary feel and have great spin. They do lack in distance, though, compared to a two-piece or even multilayer ball.

Professionals prefer the balata balls as they do offer more spin, and stop faster on the green. More spin however, emphasizes side-spin, resulting in more slices and hooks. This creates problems for most people so I wouldn’t recommend this to the average Joe, though 24% of them play it. The balata ball should be used by the best of the very best, and I think that it will be gradually replaced by the multi-layer ball in the near future.


Golf balls are an essential part of the golf game today. With today’s modern advances, it’s no wonder why we have so many different types of golf balls. However, we must sort through these golf balls to find the golf ball that is right for you. With four-layer golf balls that have liquid cores, it’s amazing to think that 150 years ago golf balls were made with feathers and leather. Still, there are standards for golf ball design and testing specifications to ensure fairness and consistency in the game.

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