Cross Section Photos of Golf Balls Reveal the Diverse Beauty Within


Photographer James Friedman doesn’t play golf, but he had a collection of golf balls lying around. One day, he began to wonder what the guts of the golf balls look like, so he cut a ball open to take a peek at a core. Then he sliced open another, and another; after cutting open over twenty different types of golf balls, Friedman found a strange sort of beauty that he began to document through photographs. The resulting project is titled “Interior Design“.

The photographs reveal a tiny world of strange shapes, layers, and colors. The Ohio-based photographer says that he was surprised to find “elegant formal qualities, unpredictable color schemes and metaphor” in the “unlikeliest of places.”

Some of the balls have guts that look like something you’d see when peering into a microscope in a laboratory. Others look like illustrations showing cross sections of planets. Others look like abstract circles of color and texture.

Here’s the collection of golf ball photographs Friedman created:
























This project led Friedman to become more interested in the subject of abstraction. He ordinarily works as a documentary photographer, he says that these abstract photos of tiny-scale objects are an “exciting corollary” to his other work.

If you enjoyed these images, be sure to check out photographer Sabine Pearlman’s cross section photographs of bullets.

“Interior Design” by James Friedman (via Feature Shoot)

Image credits: Photographs by James Friedman and used with permission

  • MS

    …golf clap.

  • Adam Cross

    they look like little planets

  • Jake

    Looks to me like tubs of gelato.

  • Burnin Biomass

    That is so f-ing cool! The colors AND textures are amazing!

  • Joey Duncan

    pretty cool to see, from a technical point of view there is a lot to wonder about. I wouldn’t have thought that there would be so many different types of setups. There must be a HUGE range in quality. I’ve never played golf so no idea. But with like say Baseball or football all the balls are all pretty much the same.
    – I wonder what he used to cut them.
    – I wonder what the material is that’s in the center of the “shinny” looking centers.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I’m thinking the shiny ones are like the clear super balls, so they began to mirror at the back…like glass…

  • Cloud suck

    I’m going to try this with soccer balls.

  • Daniel Rutter

    I think all the reflective ones have a metal shell around that central part, so might have been filled with liquid or pressurised gas before being cut open. It IS a reflection of the photo gear, but just off the inside of a hemisphere of metal.

    WHY they’re built like that is another question, but there’s a collosal amount of pseudoscience and unnecessary technology in golf, which can explain all kinds of outrageous designs for CLUBS, and presumably also balls. (Name an exotic material invented for use in spacecraft or supercomputers or nuclear missiles or something, and you can bet there’s a golf club and/or tennis racquet that uses it. Not one that NEEDS it, but unquestionably one that USES it!)

  • PheonixRizing

    What is the stuff made of? That’s so unexpected and awesome!

  • Vin Weathermon

    Could be…I imagine if I was a golfer I’d know some of those things :-)

  • Vin Weathermon

    Looks like parfait! Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious.”

  • SamDS

    what is happening, inside my eyeballs?

  • Donald

    Most of the coloured inner balls are a polyurethane. The different colours are probably different densities and durometers (squishy vs. hard). The outer dimpled coat is almost always Dupont Surlyn. Okay, explanations:

    Polyurethane is a very common plastic with almost infinite customizable formulations (molded truck engine hoods, skateboard wheels, those rubber connector covers on your DSLR). Most polyurethane moldings are actually foamed, just very dense, ultra small gas bubbles. For example, every golfer knows their balls sink. Some golf driving ranges use floater balls into a large pond for automatic siphon capture return, these balls just have slightly larger gas bubbles during mold foaming cycle.

    Foamed polyurethanes are stress free, meaning they can accept the tremendous shock-impact and multiple elastic deformation cycles that propel the ball, without shattering. The pseudoscience enters into the explanations for multiple inner balls: small dense core = sharp response off the club capturing more kinetic energy, multi stage densities sympathetically amplify inertial energy, and etc… Just look out for the infamous “quantum” energy. The different colours are just a manufacturing legend separating individual in-process component parts by models and price points during processing.

    I’ve never heard of a metal inner core sphere in a golf ball, metals don’t deform elastically very well. Golf balls used to be small cork or wood center, several hundred feet of rubber band windings to size, then a Surlyn coat. These were a blast to cut open because done right, the released rubber band winding would unwind itself in jumping, snapping, angry snake fashion. Fun! Let it go and hand it to your sister!

  • Joey Duncan

    I agree at the least the closest one from the bottom is metal, or rather aluminium. Metal isn’t really known for return to shape so it seems like they would degrade or deform at some point. Golf balls are typically rather elastic, it’s how the process works when hitting them.

    Well either way, it’s cool to see.

  • Joey Duncan

    hey thanks for that.

    The last image of the shinny center, the outer portion really does look like aluminium cut.

    All of the images with shinny centers all appear to be built differently.

    A little Googling and it appears a long long time ago in a……… some companies used a metal core that was solid. I found a “new” company that it using a hollow metal core to allow the weight to maintain on the outside and allowing for less sidespin, straighter shots.

    So they do exist.

    I’ve learned a lot about Golfballs…. on a photography site *que the “MORE YOU KNOW” Logo*

  • Joswon

    I’m going to try with balloons.

  • Luke

    Hi ever one,
    I’m a student in my last year at school and i am cutting golf balls in half and setting them in a resin block to make a coffee table. i have figured out how I’m going to do every thing besides how to cut them in half i have a variety of hand saws, band saw and drop saw at school but have had many problems using these tools.

    Eg: Drop saw blade is to thick and dangerous, band saw i could very easily cut my finger off because of the size of the golf ball and hand saws take for ever plus make a very messy job.