The Chemistry of a Golf Ball

Introduction

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I chose to research the chemistry of a golf ball. Golfers used to play with hard wooden balls during the 14th through 17th century. Golf balls have slowly evolved into a very complex piece of equipment used for such a simple game. There are several different types of golf balls and different brands. I chose to focus on three types of Titleist balls; DT Solo, NXT Tour, and the ProV1X.  My family loves to golf and so we all use golf balls quite a bit, especially in the summer.  I have always been curious as to what is inside a golf ball and how they are made.
Composition of ...

DT SOLO: A two piece golf ball with a large core. The large core increases velocity and has lower spinning.

  • The core is made out of Polybutadiene.

  • The cover is made out of Surlyn Ionomers.

NXT TOUR: A three piece hybrid ball with a dual core surrounded with a soft, thin cover. This ball provides outstanding distance and excellent durability.

  • The core is composed of Polybutadiene.

  • The cover is made up of Fusablend.

PROV1X: A four piece performance ball with a two piece core, covered with a mantle casing, and finished off with a dimpled cover. Golfers use this ball because it has a low initial spin used for distance and a high iron spin used for precision.

  • The two piece core is composed of Polybutadiene.

  • The casing is made of Surlyn Ionomers.

  • The cover is made of a Urethane Elastomer.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

Since I chose to research three types of balls, I have more than two main ingredients.  There is one ingredient that is used in all three balls. That ingredient is Polybutadiene.

1. Polybutadiene

This is used to compose the main core in all three balls. It is a diene polymer-made of a monomer that contains two carbon-carbon double bonds, specifically butadiene. Made by Ziegler-Natta polymerization. A synthetic rubber formed by the polymerization process of the monomer 1,3-butadiene.

2. Ionomer

This is used to make up the cover in the DT SoLo and the casing in the ProV1x.

It is a thermoplastic resin which is a material that softens when heated and hardens when cooled. Surlyn ionomers are the specific type they use. Surlyn ionomers are high-performance ethylene copolymers with acid groups partially neutralized using metal salts like zinc and sodium.

3. Urethane Elastomer

This is used for the cover on the ProV1X. Urethane is a combustible, toxic, and colorless solvent. Elastomer is any material that is able to resume its original shape when a deforming force is removed. It has the elastic properties of rubber. The main ingredients in urethane elastomers are isocyanates and polyols. Isocyanates are the functional group with a formula of R-N=C=O. A polyol is an alcohol containing three or more hydroxyl groups.

4. Fusablend

Fusablend is a combination of polymers and created in a laboratory with patented and exclusive materials. For this reason, I could not find any information on the ingredients involved in making the Fusablend cover.

Chemistry's Role

Chemistry plays a big role in the composition of golf balls because all the ingredients are traced back to the basic elements. All of these pieces and ingredients in a golf balls are created in a laboratory. The process of making the Polybutadiene core in these golf balls is formed by compression molding with chemical reactions. It is mixed with additives, then extruded, and pressed using a calendar, and then cut into pieces which are placed in a mold. This mold is then subjected to extremely high pressure and temperature for about thirty minutes and then it it complete.  The Surlyn ionomers are created by melt processing which is the mixture of injection molding and compression molding methods.

Background Research

The history of golf balls dates all the way back to the 14th century where all golfers played with wooden balls.  There have been several types of golf balls throughout the centuries: wooden balls in the 14th century, featheries in the 17th century, Gutta-Percha balls were invented in 1848, the wound golf ball also known as the balata ball was invented in 1898, and finally in the mid 1960’s the Surlyn and Urethane ball that is still used today, was created.

Resources

http://www.golfballguide.com/golf_ball_review.htm

Information about different types of golf balls


www.titleist.com/golf-balls/

Information about the DT SoLo, NXT Tour, and ProV1X


www.golfgalaxy.com/titleist-nxt-tour-golf-balls

Information on NXT Tour


http://pslc.ws/macrog/pb.htm

Information about Polybutadiene


http://www2.dupont.com/Surlyn/en_US/products/golfball_resins.html

Information about Surlyn Ionomers


http://www.golftransactions.com/equipment/titleist012403.html

Information about Fusablend

About the Author

Sara Heard is a junior at Billings Senior High. She has an older sister and an older brother. She plays basketball and soccer. She loves to spend time with her family. She enjoys going golfing in the summer with them. She hopes to go to college and become a speech therapist just like her older sister. She wants to live in a small town close to a river or lake where she can raise her family.



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