Golf Game Management VIII: Dirty Balls,
Scuffed Balls, Used Balls
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VIII. Is ball distance affected
by the condition of the ball?
topic of this this series is Golf Game Management. Can
you shoot lower scores without physical improvement? The
answer is a resounding, YES! Not that I'm
advocating not improving your ball striking and short
game skill level.
Golf Digest did an interesting
study which it announced in its May issue. They had
Golf Laboratories test several balls with their launch
monitor and computer-controlled robot using a
Callaway driver and Titleist NXT golf balls. The
balls varied in condition, though.
In the table below are the
results for the different conditioned balls. All
distances are in yards. Dispersion is the yardage
off-line, left or right of the target.
You may have purchased my statistical
analysis study on the "Longest
Golf Ball." In it, I compare different golf
ball distances (when hit by a mechanical hitting
machine; Iron Byron) statistically. Golf Digest did
not provide the
number of balls hit and the individual distances
of each trial, so one cannot determine the statistical
significance of the difference between balls.
For instance, the total distance for
a New ball is 250.3 yards while a Scuffed ball is
244.5 yards, a difference of 5.8 yards (or 2.3%).
How much that distance is by chance (not all balls
are the same and conditions vary) and how much is
due to the "scuffs" on the ball, cannot
be determined with confidence.
From my experience with golf ball testing,
typically a difference of at least 3% is required
before one can declare some likelihood in there being
a signficant difference. None of the ball distances
in the above table are significantly different from
one another by more than 3%. These differences could
be due just to chance. See my page on the "Longest
Golf Ball" for more detail on what
is meant by significant difference due to chance.
The long and short of the Golf
Digest test is that no one ball (brand new or used
and scuffed) is significantly longer than the other.
If there is any significant difference, it's between
the amounts of dispersion. The "Grass" and "Mud"
balls tended to have significantly more dispersion
than the others. Balls that have significant grass
or mud on them would have non-symmetric dimple
patterns and weightings (one side of the ball is
heavier than the other). Such asymmetry would cause
the ball to "wobble" and go offline more.
So, just make sure you keep your
golf balls clean whenever possible. There is really
no significant advantage to playing a new ball over
a used ball, as long as you're aware of how used
it is. The Golf Digest tests only tested one round
old balls. Over the course of many rounds, a golf
ball will lose its ability to compress and expand
efficiently and will go less far. Most golfers don't
need to worry about that because they lose their
balls before they get too old.
If you find a ball or
by used balls, beware that they may not be as long
for the following reasons:
ball may have spent a significant time in water.
The covers of golf balls are pourous and will absorb
water; this changes the viscoelasticity of the
cover and the golf ball will fly significantly
† The ball may have spent a winter while "lost." Large temperature
changes can alter the elasticity of the golf ball.
† The ball may be significantly used (many rounds) even if it doesn't
have a lot of scuffs. Well used balls will likely travel shorter distances (although,
Golf Digest did not test this).
your perfect swing while attached to the "Dream
Learn when your swing goes
off plane and correct it.
As I also recommend in
Golf Ball" study, a golfer should play
a golf ball that feels good to him/her. One golf
ball doesn't go significantly farther than any other
(even though ball manufacturers would lead you to
believe otherwise). The most important quality of
a golf ball is its feel for the short game, which
is where golfers use the most of their shots. If
your budget permits you, you should use a ball like
the Titleist Pro V1 because it is soft which means
you can judge short shots (putting and chips) better
and it provides more backspin, while at the same
time provideing the same distance as a hard ball.
In my opinion, playing
a Titleist Pro V1 that you found (as long as it looks
relatively new and has likely been recently lost)
is better than a new hard golf ball, like a Top-Flite.
The wind changes the distance
the ball flies more when hitting into the wind than
with the wind. How much more? I have calculated that
with my computer projectile model and reveal the
amount in my paper on Wind
Speed Effects. You can purchase your copy for
only $5.99. Click
Order your "Altitude
Club Print" now and have greater confidence
in your club selection when you travel to different
courses. The cost is only $9.99, less than a sleeve of
Take a look below the suggestion box for
some more ideas on how you can improve your
Make a Newsletter Suggestion.
If you are more interested in finding
out which golf ball is best for you and your game,
consider the following:
Golf Ball Report -- a statistical analysis of
different golf balls hit by an
A list of resources that have been used to produce
this newsletter can be found on my web site here.
The focus of my
site is to utilize science and math to lower your score.
New technology is one way to achieve this, but to be
honest, the technology is one small piece of the
To actually improve
significantly, we all need to:
1. Improve our swings
using CD Interactive, Hit
2. Learn how to swing
simpler like the Iron Byron with the great coffee table
3. Improve our physical
fitness and strength.
Golf Trainer Power Performance Programô and Ultimate
Golf Fitness Ebook
4. Improve our mental
5. Improve our Probable
Golf games. Learn how to make better choices on the
course through knowing how shot patterns and reading the
elements and course better.
Click on the links above
to take a look at ways that I personally use myself and
recommend you try as well.
Hope I provided some useful ways for to
become better prepared for you best golf season
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