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History of the "Atti" Golf Ball Compression Tester

In 1928, the Professional Golf Association (PGA) asked Raphael Atti of the F.H. Richards Company in New York City if he could develop a method for comparing the American golf ball to the smaller British golf ball. Each country had its own standard for size, weight, and dimple construction, and there were no standards for measuring golf ball attributes. Atti was able to determine that a ball's velocity was proportional to its compression. He showed that when equally dynamic forces are applied, a harder ball breaks away from the club faster than a softer ball. This is because the softer ball deforms (collapses) more than the harder ball and the rubber (and other core materials) must first rebound before braking away. Based upon this difference in response, Atti built the first golf ball compression tester to compare golf balls. Unlike modern testers, which use a numerical compression scale, Atti's original tester used various colors to represent compression ranges. Atti was able to determine that the British ball was comparable to the American ball, with its only significant difference being that of size and weight.

Around 1948, F.H. Richards Company closed due to unresolvable issues between the business owners and the managers. Atti relocated to Union City, New Jersey, where he began his own business manufacturing golf ball molds, cups, and compression testing machines. Atti continued research and development on compression testing machines until he passed away in 1952. Ralph Atti, Raphael's son, then took over the business, and in 1953, filed a patent for his father's golf ball compression tester. In 1995, Ralph retired and OK-Automation, of Sinking Springs, Pennsylvania, assumed operations. OK-Automation made significant design changes to the compression tester following Atti's original patent, and now produces the most accurate compression testing machine available, with traceability of measurement to standards maintained by the NIST. OK-Automation is currently investigating another of Atti's compression tester designs, which may be more accurate given today's new ball making technologies.

Ralph Atti filed and received many patents for golf ball construction and manufacture. He was regarded as the industry "guru" of the time, and not just with ball manufactures, but also with after-market ball re-jacketers. For a man who was self taught, he was able to mathematically demonstrate that dimple design affected ball flight and was credited with the creation of the Atti dimple design .

Atti's method of compression testing is no longer the primary means for measuring golf ball attributes. More involved and sophisticated methods, such as inertial restitution, velocity, etc., are now in use. However, compression testing is still used by ball manufacturers for non-destructive and inexpensive quality control. Ball compression testing is also well suited for professional golf schools, sporting facilities, club houses, and pro shops because it is relatively easy and inexpensive to perform.

(This summary is based on information provided by OK-Automation and thier interviews with Ralph Atti.)

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GolfBallTool is a commercial domain names registered to TerraSpin.  The golf ball gauge and the Accu-Chek name are trademarks of OK Automation.

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