Not everyone knows what’s inside a golf ball. I do. Or I thought I did.
When I was a kid a friend of mine taught me how to open golf balls. You need a hacksaw (Sw. bÃ¥gfil) and preferably a vise (Sw. skruvstycke). It’s impossible to open them with a knife or wire cutters – you’re guaranteed to stab yourself if you try. After removing the dimpled hard white shell, we found a layer of soft black rubber, then tens of meters of tightly rolled-up thin brown rubber band, and at the ball’s centre a small limp ampoule of soft black rubber that felt like it contained oil. I don’t recall opening that. In essence, the balls I opened in the 80s were like balls of string, only consisting of rubber band.
Over the last year I have collected two messed-up golf balls from the ground in order to pass the lore on to my kids. One, a Callaway HX Hot 3, looked like it had been gnawed by a large sharp-toothed dog. The other, a Spaulding Top-Flite 6, had been set on fire and then put out before the whole shell caught flames.
Opening the two balls with my kids last night, I found to my surprise that neither contained any rubber bands. Both instead consisted of a solid ball of very hard rubber, orange in the Callaway and blue in the Spaulding. The Callaway also had a layer of hard clear plastic inside the shell.
So now I wonder, like archaeologists often do when faced with a small sample of finds, if the difference I have documented is due to change over time or if I am dealing with two separate functional or symbolic categories of golf ball that have co-existed for decades.
Disclaimer: I would be embarrassed if anyone imagined that I play golf. I just live next to a golf course where I occasionally go skiing in the winters.