In 1850 there were only 15 golf courses in the world, and they were all here on the East coast of Scotland. Fifty years later there were three thousand golf courses all over the world. Until 1850, the game was played with a feather ball. There was no other ball to play with. Feather balls were very expensive. In mint condition they were wonderfully hard and firm but they soon got soft and flabby. But in 1850, the game took off because of the introduction of the gutta-percha ball. It was cheap, easy to make, utterly indestructible. If the paint came off, all you had to do was repaint it and start again. If it got hacked, all you had to do was put it in a bucket of water, warm it up, round it off and start again.'