How Big Is a Golf Ball?

by Bill Winters

Ever wondered why some golf balls look like they can never fit into the golf hole? Trying to buy some golf balls but not quite sure what the right size is? Regardless of the question, you might have about the golf ball, you are in the right place!

How Big Is a Golf Ball?
How Big Is a Golf Ball?

We will discuss everything you need to know about the size of the golf ball and the correct golf hole size.

Golf Balls

The size of golf balls is regulated by the USGA and R&A - essentially the body in charge of golf on a competitive level. The recommended golf ball size by the rules is that it must have a minimum diameter of 1.68 inches. However, this is not necessarily the maximum size it can have. In other words, the size of golf balls, though they might look universally the same is not restricted to a specific diameter.

There is no maximum diameter size that a golf ball can have. Of course, the size of the golf holes gives manufacturers of the golf balls a distinct check of when a ball is too big.

That said, the only condition a golf ball has to meet is that it should not weigh less than 1.62 ounces. As a result, it is not so surprising that while the USGA standard golf ball size is around 1.68 inches, it is not the same everywhere.

Most golf players outside the United State, which is essentially where the USGA primarily governs, tend to use golf balls with a diameter size of 1.62 inches.

Before a specific diameter was agreed upon for golf balls, smaller balls were being used in championships organized by the R&A. A notable example is the British Open Championship in 1974. However, the small balls were banned in 1990 because it allowed for foul plays which affected the overall great experience that golf championships bring to the players as well as the spectators watching. The 1.62 inches for a standard golf ball was then adopted 60 years later.

Golf Hole

The standard size of the golf hole is 4.2 inches. The hole must also be cut in a circular shape. The holes are always dug using a standardized tool capable of digging into the group and cutting a 4.2-inch hole simultaneously.

Golf courses often get new holes added which sometimes renders a preexisting hole useless. However, this only happens when a new hole is to be dug. In which case, the compacted earth cut from the ground using the standardized tool is used to plug the obsolete golf hole. The main reason for this is to ensure the smooth green surface of the golf course is maintained.

That said, unlike the golf balls that have a specific weight requirement to meet, there is no specific or mandatory depth that a golf hole must-have. Even at that, it is often recommended that a golf hole must be 4 inches deep.

The first standard golf hole is believed to have been created in 1829 at the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club located in Scotland. This was done after the first known hole cutter was invested in the country. The said hole cutter was capable of producing a 4.25-inch hole which coincides with the typical size of a Musselburgh drainage pipe in 1829. This width was then adopted by the R&A in 1891 after which the USGA adopted it.

NOTE: There is a growing movement that the golf hole is quite small and that a larger hole with a width of 8 inches will be more ideal. As of the time of this writing, this is yet to be adopted by any official golf body.

Brief History of Golf Ball Rules In The British Open

The British Open Championship is regarded by many as the oldest golf tournament in the world. It has been in existence for over a hundred and fifty years and is still widely celebrated. This is because the championship offers non-British golfers the chance to test their strengths on gnarly and harsh courses.

In the 1880s, the R&A allowed the use of small golf balls which a lot of great golf players loved. As a result, the small balls were even referred to as British balls. Considering Tom Watson won the British Open Championship three times in a row, it is safe to say he probably used and enjoyed using the British balls.

History of Golf Ball Design

Before the 18th Century, golf balls in England and Scotland were made from Hardwood. However, due to how hard it was to make the balls travel a long distance, a new golf ball was made using leather and feather.

The feather served as the interior material while the exterior of the ball was made from leather. While this new type of ball was softer than its predecessor, it was expensive to make. The new balls were also not perfectly round which made for incredibly unpredictable ball flights.

In Mid 19th century, new golf balls were made from the dry sap of the Malaysian Sapodilla tree. They were incredibly easy to make and were easy to reform when damaged. They were also less expensive than the golf balls made from leather and feather.

Now, synthetic balls that are more durable, faster, and capable of creating precise ball flights are in use on every golf course around the world.

Types of Golf Balls

There are three main types of golf balls. this means there might be certain features that might affect your performance on the golf course. To help you understand them, this would be discussed.

Two-piece Golf Ball

As the name implies, the two-piece golf ball has a small core and a shell that surrounds the core (i.e. two pieces). These types of balls spin less and fly very straight. They are also sturdy and are designed for amateur or handicapped golfers.

The two-piece ball typically does not feel great on the course. This is why professional and expert golf players typically avoid using the two-piece ball.

However, the two-piece golf balls are the cheapest of all types of golf balls.

Three-piece Golf Ball

The three-piece golf ball is essentially designed for players that understand all the basic rules of golfing and already have a bit of technique. This is because the three-piece golf ball tends to spin a lot more than the two-piece balls. This requires having the proper technique to make accurate putts.

This type of ball is more expensive than the two-piece ball but the difference in performance is easy to note. The three-piece balls are considerably cheaper than multi-layer golf balls and are often used by expert golf players.

The ball is ideal for golfers who do not want the ball to feel like a rock when they put it.

Multi-layer Golf Ball

Balls in this section refer to those expensive golf balls that golfers make sure to retrieve after each round. The reason is understandable - losing a few of these balls can be expensive.

The balls typically have a urethane cover and are designed to make them feel soft on the green course. They also create the highest of spins and are even capable of backward spins. That said, the urethane cover used for these balls is soft and tends to cut easily.

NOTE: While it might come in handy to know the type of golf ball you are about to buy, the most important thing to keep in mind is the size. In addition, all golf ball manufacturers are obligated to adhere to the strict guidelines of the USGA.


What Size Is a Golf Ball in Inches?

The USGA stipulates that the diameter of the golf ball must not be less than 1.680 inches or 42.67mm.

NOTE: Smaller golf balls generally fly further than larger ones. Hence, why the USGA Rules of Golf also stipulate that the weight of a golf ball shall not be larger than 1.62 ounces. Typically, the larger the golf ball, the heavier it is.

Yes, they are. Based on the standard rules and regulations, the minimum and standard size of a golf ball are 1.68 inches. This can increase provided the ball weight does not exceed 1.62 ounces.

How Many Golf Balls Does It Take to Make a Pound?

Since one pound is equal to 454 grams, then 10 standard golf balls will approximate one pound.

Yes, they are legal to use even in tournament games. Provided the dimensions of the ball remain in line with the standard regulations of the U.S. Golf Association (USGA).


Although it is handy to have some background knowledge on the size of the golf ball you are using, there are a lot more important things a golfer should worry about. For instance, before a golf ball is available for purchase in a local or online store, it would have been subjected to demanding tests that ensure it meets all the standard rules. In which case, if a golf ball does not conform, it would simply not be available for purchases.

However, there is no denying that since there is a specific standard size for golf balls, the smaller balls previously used in the '80s might have made scoring a different experience. This is a solid possibility considering the movement for golf holes to be made larger.

About Bill Winters

Those who have not yet tried the sport just can’t imagine what is driving these golfers to brave the sun’s heat and go around a course bigger than several football fields combined. It seems like an awful lot of work considering that the ball is quite small that is must be hard to hit, the ground of the course is not flat and, most annoying of all, there are sand traps lying around seemingly bent on preventing a player from finishing the course.

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Thoughts on "How Big Is a Golf Ball?"

About the Author

The game of golf may seem like an awful lot to take on when one considers that the ball is quite small, must be hard to hit and carry through windy conditions with little chance for error. The ground course has hillsides which make it challenging enough without adding sand traps who seem bent on preventing players from completing their round!

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