Columnist Steve Williams
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 firstname.lastname@example.org