June 26, 2021
Golf balls and line cooks. Quite different, you say? Not quite, at least according to the late cook and writer Anthony Bourdain.
“Line cooking – the real business of preparing food – has more to do with consistency,” wrote Bourdain. “Mindless, unchanging repetition, the same set of tasks performed over and over again in exactly the same way.”
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In this sense, the production of a golf ball is no different from the preparation of a risotto by a line cook. If it is to be done right, it has to be done consistently. Even the slightest move in ingredients or placement can be costly.
Persistence is the name of the game for golf ball manufacturers like Callaway, who have built multi-million dollar facilities and built a reputation for reliability. It’s good that Callaway’s line chef is a high-tech robot.
The Callaway X-ray machine has a simple and crucial task: uniformity. This device is responsible for ensuring that every Chrome Soft ball performs the same, and a high-speed vision system ensures that every ball looks the same. Here you can see how the sausage is made.
After traversing the Callaway assembly line, the Chrome Soft cores are sluiced onto a conveyor belt and placed in the X-ray machine.
From here, the cores are fed under a black box in which Callaway’s proprietary X-ray technology is housed. X-rays are taken of each core to measure the concentricity or centering of the components inside the core. In order for each ball to function consistently in consumer use, it is important to have as little variance as possible between cores.
3. FANUC ROBOT ARM
Once the cores are scanned, they are sorted by an electronic arm from Fanuc Robotics. Cores that pass the test are moved to the next step in the production line, while those that fail are sorted out.
4. LED SCREEN
Images of each core are projected onto a monitor where a powerful computer can quickly measure concentricity and ensure that each core is properly measured and sorted.
5. HIGH SPEED VISION AREA
After the concentricity test, the outer core layer is provided with a jacket and a polyurethane top layer. The balls are then sent through a “high-speed inspection line” in which each ball is examined for cosmetic defects. Those that pass will be sent for painting, where they will undergo final quality control before shipping.
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James Colgan is Associate Editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a wide range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and leverages his broadcast experience on the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James – and obviously his golf game – is still thawing from four years of gritting his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News, and Fox Sports. Before joining GOLF, James was a Caddy Scholar (and smart looper) on Long Island, which is where he’s from.