EARLY 19TH CENTURY GOLF BALLS
One of the most important developments in golf was the use of gutta- percha in the making of a golf ball. By tradition, in 1845, the Rev. Dr. R. Paterson received a carved statue from Malaysia packed with 'chunks and chips' of a pliable packing material called gutta percha, a Malaysian phrase meaning 'tree sap'. Lore had it that he then made it into a ball, painted in white and, on an April morning at St. Andrews, played golf with it.
The 'gutty' golf ball revolutionised the game. It became possible for anyone to make a gutty ball. It could be remoulded and was cheaper than the feather variety. The new, harder ball also dictated a redesign of the golf club as the slender and elegant longnose clubs could not withstand the more forceful impact of the harder gutty ball. The gutta- percha balls went through various transitions in composition and differing cover patterns for the best part of 50 years.