Balata golf balls, which are no longer made, were made from a rubber-like material that originated from a tree that is in the Carribean, South and Central America.
The tree is soft and when using the material from it, hardens into a plastic, rubbery-type golf ball.
It used to be played by low-handicapped golfers as well as professionals because of the high spin the ball produced primarily by irons and in the short game.
The balls would damage extremely easily on mishits or when hit on cart paths or against hard objects. That is why they weren’t recommended for beginners or mid-handicappers.
Surlyn golf balls were created a lot stronger and sturdier. These balls can last for many rounds and don’t damage easily compared to Balata balls.
Urethane golf balls are actually considered softer than balata balls. Urethane is also built stronger and has a less chance of being scraped or cut like balata made golf balls.