golf ball n. gälf bol; date: 1545. 1: a small, hard, dimpled ball used in golf; 2: the spherical printing element of an electric typewriter or printer.

The first golf balls, used in the mid-1500s in Scotland, were wooden. The featherie followed. It was made from a “gentleman's hat full” of wet feathers stuffed and sewn into a wet 1½-inch leather pouch. After the feathers expanded and the leather shrank, golfers had a ball as hard as a modern ball.

Unfit to play. If your golf ball is cut, cracked, or out of shape, it is considered unfit for play. But if it's caked in mud, is scraped, or is chipping paint, play on.

A German farmer sued the owners of a nearby golf club in 1994 after a veterinarian discovered a golf ball lodged in a dead cow's throat. The farmer claimed the club had killed 30 of his cows. It was later discovered that the cows had swallowed about 2,000 golf balls that had landed in the farmer's pasture.

$602 million=the golf ball market

The longest-ever hole-in-one sailed 447 yards to the pin. It was shot October 7, 1965, by Robert Mitera at the aptly named Miracle Hills, Omaha, Neb.

Why 18 holes? According to popular legend, a St. Andrews club board member in 1858 pointed out that it takes 18 shots (of alcohol) to finish a fifth of Scotch. The member suggested that a round of golf be over once the Scotch is gone — or 18 holes.

One of the longest shots ever was driven 2,400 feet, nearly one-half mile. Who shot it? Astronaut Alan Sheppard while teeing up on the moon.

A dimpled raspberry? A bramble pattern that resembled the surface of a raspberry was added to the guttie golf ball at the turn of the century. English engineer William Taylor, in 1908, patented an inverted bramble pattern — or dimples.

You've only got five minutes. If you've lost your ball, USGA rules say you have five minutes to find it before signaling other players to pass through.

Dimples are cute, but they don't do everything. One myth is that dimples create lift. The real magic is in the spin, which warps airflow and makes the golf ball act like a wing.

SOURCES: Titleist, United States Golf Association, www.designshop.com, www.golfeurope.com, www.lewistowncountryclub.com, www.funtrivia.com

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