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There is always something new to look forward to in the world of golf. The sport’s popularity has endured over the years, and in this time, both the ball and the clubs have changed a lot due to the use of different materials and innovation.
However, there has always been a certain mystery revolving around the ball. Those who have mostly seen the sport being played but never played it themselves have even wondered if the golf balls are made of metal.
Normal golf balls are not made of metal.; they are made out of layers of rubber. This can be either one layer or three; however, there usually isn’t much of anything else inside of them.
However, the golf ball’s exterior is made out of thermoplastic resin or urethane. The ball’s weight should ideally be 1.62 ounces (45.93 g), which is why adding metal isn’t a viable option.
A golf ball’s density is 1.26 g/ml, meaning that a lot of weight is concentrated in a small area. Since metal is much denser than rubber, it would make the ball even heavier, impacting the flight distance and trajectory of the ball. While the USGA is open to new golf ball manufacturers, it upholds a certain standard and, therefore, may not allow such balls.
There is also a risk of the metal in golf balls being attracted to magnets or magnetic fields on the course, which may bring up accusations of fraud or cheating. However, that is not to say that there are no golf balls made out of metal.
Let’s take a closer look at these balls and what they entail.
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Are Golf Balls Metal? A Closer Look
Golf balls have been made out of a wide range of materials throughout history. A wide variety of materials have been used to make golf balls, including feathers, rocks, and animal bones.
However, the idea of a metallic golf ball is still new. To keep the balls from weighing too much, metallic balls will either need to be hollow or have a very small metal content within.
OnCore is a golf ball brand that has introduced a golf ball with a hollow metal core. It has three patents to its name to maintain a stiffness of 200 to 400 GPa, hence reducing the hook and splice experienced by the ball. However, making sure this ball is legal took a lot of back-and-forth with the USGA, and over the course of a few years, the MA 1.0 was finally added to the “conforming” list.
Impacts of a Hollow Metal Core on a Golf Ball
Ideally, the metal core should reduce the spin off your wood club as you hit it off the tee, helping you reduce the rate and intensity of slices by 30%. OnCore suggests that the heavy inner core helps the ball maintain equilibrium while it flies, especially with the wood club.
If you decide to use an iron club, you can expect an added spin in the shot with more control. The ball has been extensively tested and they found that the MA 1.0 has a relatively lower flight. However, the added spin does give it more roll on the greens and fairways.
As you can imagine, the hollow core means that when hitting the ball, it makes a hollow metal thwack, which is likely to catch you or bystanders off guard.
I will go into more detail about this company a little bit later in the article.
Which Ball to Use – Are Metal Balls Better or Worse?
Whether you are choosing a ball for practice or to play, the ball’s internal construction is a very important factor to consider. Metal balls tend to roll much better but need a lot of power to fly long distances.
If you have a hard swing and are sure you can get the ball there, metallic balls may suit you better than traditional ones. They fly straighter and roll better, making it an excellent option for at least an eagle.
At the end of the day, your golf ball should reflect your playstyle best. While metallic balls do tend to make things easier on the fairway or the green, they might not be as suitable for beginners as they are for experienced players.
You are also much more likely to hit shots shorter with a metal ball as opposed to a normal golf ball. So you have to decide if the reduced slice is worth the reduced distance the ball will travel.
A Bit More About OnCore, The Metal Golf Ball Company
The idea for OnCore came to two friends, Bret Blakely and Steve Coulton, in 2008. Both of them were affected by the bad economic conditions and were considering their next move.
Mr. Blakely’s father was also an entrepreneur, and the two men shared an entrepreneurial spirit as well.
Mr. Blakely had a startup nanotech firm in Buffalo, NY, that focused on creating cell-pore water filters, solid oxide fuel cells, and carbon nanotubes. The two introduced their idea for a ball with a hollow metal core, which was concerning at first. However, when its performance was tested, things changed.
Unlike other golf balls, the metal core increased its perimeter weighting, making the ball stand out. Furthermore, this increased perimeter weight increased the ball’s Moment of Inertia or MoI, i.e., the rotational inertia of an object. As a result, the ball flew much straighter than competitors.
Furthermore, this golf ball also rolled much better near the end, allowing for more precise shots.
Unfortunately, the ball’s flight time wasn’t as long as normal balls, nor did it fly as high. The loss of extra yards meant that this ball may not be adopted by people as quickly as the rest.
Since the founders didn’t have any marketing experience, their idea didn’t take off as well as they had wanted.
There were some friends and family members they asked to try their ball to ‘record data.’ However, not all of them liked it so even that didn’t go very well. So, they continued to look for a market for the metal golf balls.
This time around, the ball found local use, but it still wasn’t enough for the founders. By 2012, they managed to raise funds and find some curious venture capitalists, who wanted to learn more about their capabilities.
The metal balls also had a new dimple design and some other tweaks to boast. Things were well underway, and the company’s trajectory seemed upwards until 2013 when the USGA felt the ball did not adhere to the official rules for the golf balls.
In their opinion, the biggest issue was that the ball was, in fact, substantially different from the traditional, customary form that was used for the sport across the US. This claim was appealed and then long meetings, negotiations, and appeals process began.
According to Blakely, the ball did conform to the five quantifiable metrics set by the USDA:
3. Spherical symmetry
4. Initial velocity and
5. Distance standard
By 2016, the ball was finally included on the list that promised conformity. From then on, several benefits have been highlighted for metallic golf balls, and the answer to ‘are golf balls metal’ became, it depends on which brand you buy.