Why Can’t We Use the Balls That the Pros Use?
I remember a few times of furor in my youth about the British golf ball versus the larger one used in most other places. It was smaller, ergo harder to hit in my opinion, and had different flight behavior, from what I’m told. In all the years since, it hasn’t really bothered me that I’m hitting the same ball that the pros use, or that I’m just not hitting it as well. It’s never really crossed my mind that as amateurs playing on the weekend, we should have it easier than the big guys do. David Feherty, however, has suggested using a larger ball for amateurs, so that we can be more “comfortable” with the game.
I was not aware that we’ve already changed the size of the ball once, from 1.68 to 1.70 inches, and I’m not sure of the results. Did we even notice, or were we immediately aware that we were better in all phases of the game? The suggestion is that a mere two hundredths, (or 1/50th) change in ball size would change it all for the game of amateur golf, and make it go along a little quicker. Feherty complained that we have “youngsters lining up 18 inch putts,” and that such a game-slower would change with the larger ball.
It used to be that I would play golf at any time with anyone, anywhere. Now, I only go when the course is all but deserted, because Feherty’s thinking is the opposite of what I want out of the game. Yes, I know that my round isn’t important to professional golf, but part of me wants to live vicariously through them, and I deserve to take the same care with each shot that they take, including lining up an 18-incher, which I’m much more likely to miss than they are.
I don’t want the game to speed up in the realm of concentration and preparation…only in terms of fussing around wasting time. For the real parts of the game, I don’t want to play speed golf. I also want to walk between shots, so long as I’m able to do so, which I hope is to the bitter end.
It doesn’t matter to me that I don’t shoot what the pros shoot, and I don’t want to shoot a 78 instead of an 84 because the industry took pity on me and made it easier. That’s deflating. I’d go home and say “Honey, I shot a 78! But not a real one, of course.” I don’t want them to give me a ball that’s easier to chip – I want to learn to chip better. I don’t them to make the hole bigger, either. Let me come to the game, instead of bringing the game to me. Let me up my skills instead of dumbing the game down. Don’t take out the trees and rough for me, and replant them when the pros come to town.
I’ll tell you what I do like, however. After a Demosthenes-like search for the perfect driver, I found one – in a Good Will barrel, of all places. I hit some other drivers about two or three yards farther, but I hit this one straight at about twice the percentage. Most importantly in terms of an equipment change, USGA-approved or not, the worst swing of all, bleary-eyed at 7 in the morning, still catches part of the ball. The head is so big that it looks like something a troll would use. It is absolutely whiff-proof, a disaster I have experienced only two or three times in the last half-century, but even that’s bad enough. If you’re going to tinker with the equipment, forget the ball – let me just keep searching for clubs with bigger heads.
Somewhere in our imaginations, we are all pros, at least in some other dimension. Please, Mr. Feherty, let us do what the real professionals do, and don’t make us speed up even faster. Our game will get even worse.