Graphene. Have you heard of it? If not, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about it and what it can do for your golf clubs, shafts and balls — and soon.
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Graphene — exfoliated graphite carbon reacted with acids and heat-treated into nano-sized, honeycomb-pattern sheets, in a slightly more technical explanation — can do that.
Graphene, which can be made in incredibly small sheets, is dramatically stronger than steel and much lighter than carbon fiber, which has become a critical material for driver construction. Imagine a material as strong as, if not stronger, which is also lighter. That’s why titanium is increasingly getting kicked to the curb or minimized in favor of carbon fiber.
Most curiously, graphene could be an important material in golf ball construction. You don’t think about carbon fiber or titanium in golf balls. However, Callaway Golf applied in October 2017 for a patent for the use of graphene in golf ball cores. The main use of graphene in golf balls is to improve their durability in a single- or dual-core design, making the golf ball last longer at its full capability, even if the graphene makes up less than 2.5 percent of the core weight. Based on results shown in the patent application, the best-performing balls with graphene in the core formulation lasted almost twice as long as the control ball before it cracked.
Further, using graphene could allow golf ball makers to create a much firmer second core layer or a much softer primary core without having to worry as much about the ball being compromised with the contrasting materials at impact.
Callaway’s patent application covers the use of graphene in pretty much every current golf ball construction, including six-piece balls, but does seem to focus on the five-piece ball most. If leaks from the Japanese market and the Callaway team on social media are a good indicator, graphene will be a key part of Callaway’s new Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls.