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Manufacturing

  • Flexible solution utilizing WinWedge to input data from rheometers (an instrument for measuring the flow of viscous liquids) into Microsoft Excel
  • Cost effective and accurate data collection

Golfers around the world realize that it’s important to find that perfect ball that suits their game - not too soft, not too hard, enough spin but not too much....

And choosing that perfect golf ball is no easy task. Believe it or not, the United States Golf Association includes close to 1,900 balls on its "conforming" list. There are two-piece balls, three-piece balls, balata and Surlyn balls, wound balls, liquid-center balls, titanium-center balls, "senior" balls, "ladies" balls, balls that offer "extra distance" or "extra spin" and thanks to R&D in the golf ball industry, many hybrid balls that combine these characteristics.

One golf ball manufacturer, long regarded as the most prestigious brand name in the $1 billion-per-year golf-ball industry, offers an array of golf ball types to suit the games of every type of golfer. Indeed, the manufacturer makes so many different types of balls and so many compressions, it is confusing even to professional golfers. So, for the average hit and hope golfer like me, is there really a ball out there that will improve my game? And what’s new on the radical golf ball engineering frontier to help my golf game?

Research and development

The manufacturer’s Research and Development Department takes on the challenge to continually improve the quality and composition of their golf balls and to expand their product lines. A scientist in the R&D Department says one of the critical elements of a golf ball is the core composition. The core is the golf ball’s source of energy. Differences in core construction affect spin rate (control), initial velocity (distance) and compression (feel).

The typical core construction, either wound or solid, offer significant differences in control and feel. Wound balls have three parts: center, winding and cover. Wound balls offer more spin and control but typically less distance. Solid balls are comprised of two parts, a solid core and cover. Solid, or two-piece balls, offer more distance but less spin and control. In general, the core is generally a compound of natural and synthetic rubbers (polymers).

The R&D Department conducts core compression experiments to continually improve the interior design of their golf balls. The Department uses rheometers, an instrument for measuring the flow of viscous liquids, made by Monsanto, to measure different heating cycles of the polymers that comprise a golf ball’s center. Measuring different heating cycles simulates part of the actual process of developing the ball’s core. By simulating the process with the rheometer, the Department can perfect the heating and compression process to improve the golf ball’s core, and hence, overall control and feel of the ball.

The WinWedge solution

Monsanto, the manufacturer of the rheometer, offers its own SPC software to analyze the output of the device. However, the Department had a need to overlay curves for different heating cycles which the custom SPC package would not allow. They discovered that by using the WinWedge Professional, by TALtech of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (800-722-6004, http://www.taltech.com), to interface the rheometer to their Windows Computer, they could overlay the heating curves and analyze their results in Microsoft Excel. The R&D scientists preferred to use Excel since they are familiar with it, and Excel is easy to use and a powerful statistical analysis program.

At present the rheometer is connected via a serial cable to a PC running Microsoft Excel and WinWedge. WinWedge parses and filters the data from the rheometer and directs it to Excel. The data is then graphed in real time in Excel. The resulting graphs simulate the heating cycles.

In search of the perfect ball

So with all this on-going golf ball technology, how do you select the right golf ball for your game? Try surfing the Internet. You will find web sites that take you through a series of simple questions, such as typical drive distance, preference for control or distance, rating of golf ball characteristics, etc. Or perhaps seek assistance from your pro or salesclerk.

So partake when the nice weather is nice and hit the links. And don’t forget a sleeve of your favorite balls! Or if you play like this author, bring a whole box!

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