Tom is an average weekend golfer. He has a very busy work week with no time to practice so he gets to play only on weekends. He is fighting to keep his handicap under 20 and he likes to drive the golf ball farther than everybody else in his foursome. Tom is always trying new golf balls to find one that will give him an edge in these mini long distance driving championships.
Tom has one advantage over the other golfers however. If he is not happy with the results of the ball he is using he does not go to the pro shop and buy a dozen of something else, the makes a new one from scratch. Tom, you see, is the director of research and development for Spalding Sports.
Golf manufacturers are on a vision quest to make a golf ball that will go further than any other ball on the planet when hit at the relatively low swing speeds of older golfers and high handicap amateurs, which are most of the people you’ll see on the golf course on any given Sunday. Tom is not giving up any secrets but he says that he could make a golf ball tomorrow that would go a whole lot further than what is available on the market today. The thing that prevents him from doing that, and every other golf ball manufacture too, is that the United States Golf Association limits the ball’s initial velocity and maximum permissible distance it can travel at a given swing speed.
When you see those ads in men’s magazines for a golf ball that travels so far that it is outlawed by all the golf associations in the world, they may be telling you the truth. Of course, the penalty for using an outlaw ball would probably be pretty severe especially if it was used during any sanctioned USGA or other sanctioned event. The guys you were playing with probably wouldn’t be too happy with you either.
Tom says that under the current restrictive policy guidelines he figures that they can get about five more yards of driver distance out of a low spin, low driver head speed golf ball. It’s all about chemistry. Pretty much all golf balls now have solid cores. The key to extra distance is the chemical composition of the core. All manufacturers have been using a similar composition for about the last 30 years because so far nobody has come up with anything that can improve on it and still stay within the guidelines.
In addition to the solid core golf balls have one or more layers of material. Three-piece golf balls, for example have a layer between the solid core and cover called the mantle. By varying the hardness of the material in the mantle and the cover manufacturers can regulate the amount of spin that a golf ball displays when struck at high club speeds and at had low club speeds.
Professional golfers like to use three-piece balls that spin at very high rates. These kinds of balls will cut a little distance off the tee over the low spin variety but provide more control around the greens. Average golfers are much better off getting low spin or distance golf balls. Not only do they tend to not balloon high into the air cutting distance but the reduced spin can cut down on the severity of hooks and slices. A low spin ball will not eliminate your slice but it may knock it down to keep you out of trouble off the tee.