The 19th century is considered by many to be the period when the truly modern game emerged. The changes that primarily spurned this modernization were to the equipment of the game. Up to 1848, golf balls, as previously stated, were featheries, made of feathers and leather. In 1848, a man named Rev.
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Adam Patterson was said to have created the first gutta percha ball, or guttie a ball made of the rubber-like sap of he Gutta tree, native to the tropics. The guttie was much cheaper to make than its predecessor, and quickly became the standard of golf. Additionally, gutties were much easier to repair, which added to their popularity.
Initially the gutta percha balls were smooth, unlike the featheries, which cut down on the distance they could travel. However, in the 1880s, manufacturers began using patterns on the surface of the balls to replicate the effect of the old featheries. Later in the century, in the 1890s, many companies began using molds to create the balls, making them even more affordable.
When rubber companies (like Dunlop, which still produces golf balls) began mass-producing golf balls, the handmade gold ball business virtually disappeared. The changes in golf balls also necessitated changes in golf clubs. It was the guttie ball that led to much greater use of the irons, while woods were made much firmer and fitted with leather heads to reduce wear.