ASK STEVE

Colum­nist Steve Wil­liams

The Cut - - CONTENTS -

QHav­ing pro­vided pro­fes­sional ser­vices for two of the power hit­ters in the game to­day, can you please give us your in­sights on what they do to the golf ball? De­spite all the amaz­ing tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in de­sign and con­struc­tion, th­ese golf balls don’t seem to re­tain their mint con­di­tion for long.

For ex­am­ple, do play­ers at the top level use a new ball on each hole? If not, then how much (mi­nor) dam­age causes its re­jec­tion? I have wit­nessed pro­fes­sion­als ex­am­ine a ball with a few ‘whiskers’ and ap­pear to re­ject it whereas I would hap­pily shave them and carry on re­gard­less. But ob­vi­ously I am not try­ing to pay the mort­gage by play­ing the game.

As a caddy I pre­sume you are on ‘ball con­trol’ and de­cide how many re­place­ments are car­ried on any day. There must be some fas­ci­nat­ing de­tails you could share with us re­gard­ing the pro­fes­sional’s at­ti­tude to this crit­i­cally im­por­tant piece of equip­ment?

John Schofield, Dunedin

AGood ques­tion John. How of­ten play­ers change their ball is very much up to the in­di­vid­ual but cer­tainly all of them will change balls when they are scuffed from wedge use or dam­aged in other ways, such as a ball land­ing on cart paths or hit­ting trees with force. A ball may be taken out of play dur­ing a hole when it is deemed to be out of shape but you must con­sult your marker be­fore do­ing so.

The lat­est balls do not mark as eas­ily as they once did. In years gone by, it would not be un­com­mon to use nine balls per round. Tour pro­fes­sion­als gen­er­ally put new wedges in their bag three to four times a year and the num­ber of balls used when they are first in­tro­duced is greater than nor­mal due to the fresh grooves.

Some play­ers use a new ball ev­ery two or three holes while oth­ers only change when needed. When it is cold play­ers will ro­tate balls, re­ceiv­ing warm ones that the caddy has in his pocket. Although it is il­le­gal, cad­dies may have a hand warmer in their pocket warm­ing up the ball. A warm ball flies fur­ther off the tee than a cold one. Cad­dies are re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing sure there is an ad­e­quate num­ber of balls in their player’s bag: more are re­quired on a course with lots of wa­ter!

The tech­no­log­i­cal im­prove­ments in the ball is a ma­jor fac­tor in the in­cred­i­ble dis­tances to­day’s play­ers hit the ball. Whilst the balls are harder to curve they def­i­nitely go fur­ther.

The golf ball is im­por­tant, not only to the pros, but am­a­teur golfers should test all the name balls and see which one best suits their game. You will be sur­prised how much dis­tance you can get by us­ing the golf ball best matched for your clubs and swing speed.

Do you have a ques­tion you’d like to put to Steve? Maybe you want to know some­thing about cad­dy­ing or per­haps you have a query about an­other as­pect of golf. You can drop Steve a line c/-gallery@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

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