The slightly bigger ball used in USGA-governed territories became known as the "American ball," while the smaller ball used in R & A areas was known as the "little ball," "British ball," or "British Open ball." (For good measure, it was also known as the "European ball.")
Actually, the American ball is actually larger than the little ball, but only by about 1 millimeter. This isn't enough to make a difference for most shots, especially since both balls are nearly identical otherwise.
There are some regions where they use balls that are specifically designed for those tournaments. These balls are usually much harder and have more dimples on them than what's used in regular play. They're also usually white instead of blue.
In fact, there are even competitions where the used ball can be marked with tags to indicate which company made it. These balls are then put away in the museum case after use.
But other than that, there's not much difference between the balls used in Europe and here in the United States.
Prior to 1990, there were two standard ball sizes. The smaller of the two was established under R & A regulations, which permitted the use of a ball 1.62 inches in diameter in tournament play. In the early 1900s, both parties agreed that golf balls might be as tiny as the British Ball, which measured 1.62 inches.
The larger U.S. Golf Ball was first manufactured by PGA Tour player Byron Nelson and was sized at 1.68 inches in diameter. It became popular with consumers and the industry adopted it as the standard size for all golf balls thereafter.
Today, only the 1.68-inch ball is officially sanctioned by the United States Golf Association (USGA). However, an unapproved third size is available on the market: the 1.73-inch ball. This size was developed by some manufacturers who claimed to be able to make a larger ball with no significant difference in performance.
The USGA does not certify or approve any ball other than this one. Also, while most 1.68-inch balls are actually 1.69 inches in diameter, some manufacturing variances may cause these balls to feel and perform slightly differently.
This information should help you identify any missing parts of your golf set.
Over the years, a desire has grown to standardize the rules on golf ball size. The difference in minimum golf ball diameter was one of the last major disagreements between the R & A and USGA that was codified in the rules. The R & A took the first step in 1974, when it decided the small ball could no longer be used in the British Open. The USGA responded by making the same change in its own championship.
The reason for the change was simple economics. Making both sizes of ball would have been too expensive and would have prevented any real change in policy. By choosing one size over the other, both organizations showed they were willing to compromise so that play could continue without interruption.
Before the introduction of uniformity, some clubs had their own unique recipe for rubber which resulted in balls with different characteristics. Some were harder than others for better performance from an aerodynamic standpoint. Others were more durable or less prone to breakage.
In addition to club preference, weather conditions can also affect the choice of ball. If it is warm out there or not, if it's dry or not, if there are trees or not- these all influence what kind of ball should be used. The rule is loose enough that each situation can be handled differently. For example, if a player uses a smaller ball because it's easier to hit, then he or she should be able to use one again if they fail to make par at least once.
Finally, the size of golf balls was standardized in 1990. Over time, there has been a growing need to harmonize the laws regarding golf ball size. One of the final significant differences between the R&A and the USGA that was enshrined in the rules was the difference in minimum golf ball diameter. The R&A required that all golf balls not be less than 1.68 inches (4.30 cm) in diameter, while the USGA allowed for balls to be as small as 1.60 inches (3.94 cm). The difference was made necessary by the fact that most countries outside the United States regulate golf ball size.
It is important to note that although these are the only two sizes permitted by law, many manufacturers produce balls in other dimensions as well. For example, some large tournament balls are about 1.70 inches (4.35 cm) in diameter, while others can be as small as 1.50 inches (3.81 cm).
The need for consistency in golf ball size arose from the fact that not only do different-sized balls play differently, but so do balls of the same size. For example, if you hit a ball that is too small, it will have more spin and fly farther and straighter. However, if you hit one that is too big, it will feel heavier and go slower. Some people believe that balls this size affect how you swing and thus how you score, but this is not true.
Both sides desired that the size of their golf balls be changed by the other. Both the British and the Americans would fight each other for years. It took until 1990 for both sides to realize their error and settle on a single size. This is how 1.68 inches became the new (minimum) standard golf ball size.
The first incandescent light bulb was introduced in 1879, but it wasn't until 1890 that an American company produced its first successful ball bearing. These bearings were used in toys such as dolls' houses and cars. The first rubber golf ball may have been invented by Dr. James Hardy Grant at the U.S. Rubber Company in 1892. He filed a patent application for this novel ball bearing that would later become known as a "gutty" ball because of its natural rubber composition. It is this same patent application that also describes nylon ball bearings which would not be introduced into market place for another three years!
The first synthetic ball material, Celluloid, was developed in 1910. It was a revolutionary material at the time because it was the first ball material that was both durable and scuff resistant when compared to gutta-percha or rubber. In fact, some modern day tennis balls are made out of Celluloid!
The first oil-based ball formula was introduced by Dunlop in 1950. It replaced the natural rubber ball bearing with a mixture of organic zinc compounds and organic sulfur compounds.