from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The nonelastic rubber obtained from the latex of the South American tree Manilkara bidentata. It has been used in the manufacture of golf-ball covers and machine belts.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A West Indian sapotaceous tree (Bumelia retusa).
  • n. The bully tree (Minusops globosa); also, its milky juice (balata gum), which when dried constitutes an elastic gum called chicle, or chicle gum.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Same as balata-gum.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. when dried yields a hard substance used e.g. in golf balls
  • n. a tropical hardwood tree yielding balata gum and heavy red timber


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

American Spanish, from Tupi and Galibi.


  • Its core was wrapped in tightly wound elastic threads, and its cover was made of a soft rubber called balata, which gave the pros the feel, high spin and control they needed to work their magic around the greens.

    The Battle Over a Golf Ball

  • By far the biggest adjustment I had to make in playing with wood and balata involved sound.

    Testing the Technological Edge

  • In addition, since balata balls spin more than modern balls, they slice and hook more, too.

    Testing the Technological Edge

  • Modern premium balls, typified by Titleist Pro V1s, have nearly the feel and short-game control of balata balls, plus distance and durability.

    Testing the Technological Edge

  • I discovered the balata balls last year in my basement, miraculously preserved in their unopened package from the mid-1990s.

    Testing the Technological Edge

  • They consisted of a core wound round with rubber bands and encased in a rubber-like shell (the balata), which provided great feel around the greens but cut and scuffed easily.

    Testing the Technological Edge

  • As an experiment, I played a round of golf this week with old-fashioned wooden woods and a sleeve of virgin balata balls.

    Testing the Technological Edge

  • I also discovered an unopened sleeve of balata Maxfli XF balls from the mid-1990s.

    Balls in the Basement

  • These were such an expensive indulgence for me at the time (balata balls had great feel but cut easily) that I never actually used them.

    A glut of golf balls

  • They had reasonably soft covers and spun nearly as much around the greens as the balata balls did, but when hit hard with drivers and long irons spun much less and flew farther than balata balls.

    The Battle Over a Golf Ball


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  • "By and by, after a few years, Mack and Raiss let me share in the profits in my district, a tiny share, but enough to give me some surplus income, which I invested in a little island smack in the Amazon, where I planted rubber trees and tobacco, coffee and cocoa, and drew a high yield of balata gum and oil from the juicy kernels of the babassu palm, which I rafted down to Pará."

    -Tintin in the New World by Frederic Tuten, p 170

    July 10, 2008