Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

58

Novel high acid ionomers for golf ball cover applications

M.J. Sullivan and R.A. Weiss

Spalding Sports Worldwide, Chicopee, USA and the University of
Connecticut, Storrs, USA

Abstract

The use of Surlyn ionomers in golf ball covers is well documented and deal exclusively with neutralized copolymers of ethylene and methacrylic acid typically containing 15 wt-% or less methacrylic acid. In 1971, R.P. Molitor at Spalding discovered that blends of zinc and sodium ionomers gave enhanced distance and improved low temperature durability over previous covers. It has now been demonstrated using materials developed in our laboratories that ionomers containing about 20 wt-% acid neutralized with a variety of different cations, give golf balls having dramatically lower spin rates and greatly improved distance.

Keywords: Golf balls, Ionomers, Cations, Acid Copolymer, Ionomer Blends.


1 Introduction

Ethylene ionomers are copolymers of ethylene and a partially neutralized unsaturated carboxylic acid such as methacrylic acid or acrylic acid (Rees, 1968 and Bush, 1972). They are commonly available commercially as metal salts under the trademarks of Iotek (Exxon Chemical Co.) and Surlyn (E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.). Free-acid derivatives are also commercially available as Nucrel (E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.) and Primacor (Dow Chemical Co.). Because of their excellent resilience, toughness and durability, the metal salt ionomers have replaced trans-polyisoprene as the most commonly used cover material for golf balls.

Molitor (Molitor, 1972) discovered that blends of zinc and sodium ionomers not only provided dramatically improved low temperature cracking resistance but also gave a synergistic improvement in initial velocity over that of either ionomer alone. Today, blends of zinc, sodium and lithium ionomers are commonly employed in golf ball cover compositions. The specific salts used, the level of neutralization of the ionomer and the blend composition influence not only the distance and durability of the ball but also such playing characteristics as spin rate, sound, and feel. Recently, terpolymers prepared from ethylene, a partially metal-neutralized unsaturated carboxylic acid and an acrylate monomer such as butyl or methyl acrylate (Statz, 1989), have been used in golf ball covers to soften the composition (Sullivan, 1989). Historically, commercially available ionomer resins used in golf ball cover applications contained at most 15 to 16 wt-% carboxylic acid. Higher acid ionomers are now commercially available and golf balls with covers molded from blends of high acid zinc, sodium and magnesium ionomers exhibit enhanced coefficient of restitution (C.O.R.) values and higher hardness compared to blends of low acid ionomers.

This paper reports our initial studies of the effect of cation and salt concentration on the performance of golf balls molded from high-acid ionomers and their blends.

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-383-

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