GET INTO GOLF: Wondering what ball to play in winter?
Previously, we have learned a brief history about the golf ball and how an evolution of equipment has been mirrored by the development of the players and a growth of the game.
The ball that was used for the majority of the 20th century was akin to a baseball. It had a liquid center core, wrapped with windings (essentially a very long rubber band), and finally covered. Simply, they are known as “wound” balls.
These balls could be easily damaged during play, cut by a thin shot (known as a smile) or even caused to lose their shape over time. With this construction, temperature would effect the ball. In warmer temperatures, the ball would become more ‘elastic’ and in the cold the ball would play more firm.
With this wound construction, golf balls were rated by compression. In broad terms, if the windings were tighter, this would create a higher compression. Balls were primarily produced with compression ratings of 80, 90, and 100.
A player with a lot of clubhead speed would play the 100 compression as the higher compression ball does not spin as much as the lower compression golf ball. A player that is ‘distance challenged’ might play the lower compression golf ball as the ball would have a greater ‘trampoline’ effect.
But, when the weather turned cold, those better players turned for the lower compression ball. The 100 compression ball that played firm in the summer could feel like a stone in the winter. We even had players putting balls in the oven prior to play.
Today’s golf ball will not become unplayable due to moisture and will not lose its shape through impact by a player or an object. New materials and construction have solved most durability issues. These hi-tech substances also go a long way in resolving a complex problem.
Yet, there has been one drawback, however. With the non-wound, solid core construction of modern golf balls, there are no windings. For years, this translated to playing with the same ball all year round.
But now, with new ingredients to the solid core or adding different layers (so-called multi-layer), the modern golf balls have different compression ratings.
So, if you’re curious about a low compression ball or simply “what ball to play in the winter?”, here is a short list to help.
The Callaway Chrome Soft
Bridgestone E6 Soft
Srixon Soft Feel
The Precept Laddie — There is a funny story behind this one. Back in the day with the “Lady” ball being the low compression ball, a good number of guys would play it in the winter. Yet, some men did not want to play a ball that said Lady on it. Being made aware of this, the manufacturer produced the ball under an additional name. The Laddie. It is still being sold today.
Technology has helped all of us to become better players. No more feather stuffed hacky-sacks, no more rolled up tree sap, and most balls made today are produced consistently (just 15 years ago or so, you didn’t always know what you were going to get). Now, it’s up to us to be the best player that we can be. So, grab your clubs, try a few different types of golf balls and enjoy this great game!
John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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