The global golf ball market was estimated to be over one billion dollars in 2017. It is estimated that each year, over 300 million golf balls are lost in the United States, alone. Golf balls are not recyclable or biodegradable, so if not recovered, the balls are left in waterways and woodlands.

Materials used to construct golf balls have evolved over the years. The original golf balls were made of wood. The next generation of balls were made from boiled feathers stuffed in a leather pouch. In the mid 1800’s, the “guttie” type ball was introduced and consisted of dried sap which was molded into a sphere. At the beginning of the 20th century, the wound rubber ball covered with balata was invented. In the 1960’s, Dupont introduced SurlynTM, an ionomer of ethylene acid, which was quickly adopted as a cover material for golf balls due to its enhanced durability. Polyurethane was also introduced to replace the softer balata covers which were easily cut. These materials and other polymers are used to construct modern golf balls [1].

This work will show the identifi cation of materials used in the construction of modern commercially available golf balls. The GERSTEL PYRO System in combination with gas chromatography mass spectrometry was used for the analysis.