Modern
Ball

The modern ball gives you a range of options from which to choose. This wasn't always true, but tough competition has pushed every manufacturer rapidly down the road to develop the 'ultimate' performance ball.

At the same time golf commentators are fuelling the direction of where the modern ball is heading. They rave ad nauseam about drives over 300 yards and how the young guns on the Tour reduce par fives to a drive and a short iron.

Featherie Golf Ball

Featherie Golf Ball
circa 1600s

This focus on sheer strength detracts from the true skill of the game - that of shot-making. Tour players have largely lost the ability to work their shots and tend to favour a stock shot pattern irrespective of the design of the hole. The technique of 'bomb and gouge' makes for stereotype golf.

For weekend golfers the choice is simple. Putting cost aside, it is generally a compromise between distance and spin. Typically the deciding factor is length off the tee rather than control around the green. The ego of the long tee shot is very seductive. Who cares if your short game is up to maggots?

Guttie Golf Ball

Guttie Golf Ball
Introduced 1848

The evolution of the golf ball is a fascinating story that has not yet ended. There are growing concerns today that the distance achieved by the modern equipment is making many of the older classic golf courses obsolete or less challenging for tournament golf.

However, the concern is not a recent phenomenon. Bernard Darwin, the golf correspondent for The Times of London wrote these words in 1934 when he was describing the dilemma faced by golf architects.

"The architects have done nobly; they have fought the good fight, but it ought not to be a fight. The fact that it threatens to become so is the fault of the ball.

Haskell Golf Ball

Haskell Golf Ball
Patented 1898

Whether the ball can ever be brought back to its proper limits is another story, but unless it can, the architects will be fighting an uphill battle."

And so the story continues to divide opinion. Whether or not the Tour will adopt a standard ball that restricts its distance is doubtful, but still possible. There is a precedent the rule makers can follow.

Before 1988 amateur golfers outside of the United States had a choice in the size of the ball they played. However, in 1988 the Royal and Ancient adopted the American standard (1.68 in) bringing about the demise of the smaller British ball (1.62 in).

How the modern ball can be contained is anyone's guess. But for the average golfer a lack of distance is a more immediate concern.

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Image Source
1 = futuremuseum.co.uk
2 = google images: original source unknown
3 = ohiohistorycentral.org


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