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.
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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
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.)