Much ado about nothing? Ball test shows inconclusive results

 As part of the ongoing study (10 years and counting) on golf ball distance from golf’s ruling bodies, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Sweden this past weekend conducted a test of a golf ball designed to go shorter than today’s high-tech balls the R&A and U.S. Golf Association seem to fear so much.

The ball used in a "roll back" test in Sweden

Here’s some excerpts from Gene Oberto’s story (The Test Designed to Fail) published in the Swedish Golf Online. The full story can be seen at:

-Designated the NP-301, the lettering that was on the balls we used. Did it go shorter? Who the hell could tell, as the test was held under conditions that would have made any golf ball, no matter how hot they were designed, play shorter.

-In weather more like March than June, we teed off in a virtual gale, with winds gusting to 40mph, steady rain and temperatures hovering at a balmy 40°F. It made the test less on golf ball characteristics and more on survival.

-Physically comparing the ball to a Titleist Pro V1, the dimples are pronouncedly deeper which, I guess, cuts into the aerodynamics of the balls flight by creating more drag. From a purely unscientific perspective, our group felt that when we hit it good the ball carried well, like throwing a javelin. Mis-hit causing the slightest error in capturing that optimum flight and the ball seems dead and goes nowhere. This lack of carry, for me was most apparent on approach shots, where less than pure hits saw balls land ridiculously short. It played havoc on all of us where water was a factor. Short shots over water have permanent results. The ball rolled well on cut fairways. Thick and wet grass or standing water, however, made the ball act like like a stone. Putting on the greens showed no difference in roll or feel.

– While the R&A rep wouldn’t do a sit down with me, he did answer one of my questions. I asked why golfers like myself were doing this test? After all, we aren’t the golfers causing the obsolescence of some classic golf courses by hitting the ball 300 yards and more. His response was that the Rules of Golf apply to all players. My take from that answer is that bifurcation between the elite and weekend golfer won’t be coming any time soon.

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