Renslow: Rocks, pills, pellets and more… Part II |

Renslow: Rocks, pills, pellets and more… Part II

Last week we learned a brief history about the golf ball, have seen the growth of the game and how an evolution of equipment has been mirrored by a development of the players. Important to note, however, that these hardware improvements are not a panacea for better play. The average score by the best players is just one stroke lower than it was twenty years ago.

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 multi-personality problem. Perfection would be a schizophrenic golf ball; a ball that is Schwarzenegger and Hugh Grant, a tough guy with a sensitive side. Unfortunately, ladies, we don’t know a guy like this, and there isn’t a perfect golf ball either.

Speaking in broad terms, two types of golf balls have been produced in recent years. One that would help players hit the ball farther (hard) and the other offer more control (soft), specifically on the shorter shots around the green.

To illustrate a couple of points, let’s use another object lesson. Go find a small stone and a marshmallow, a ping-pong paddle and a tennis racquet. Hit both the stone and the marshmallow with the ping-pong paddle. Which travels further? Next, place the ping-pong paddle on the ground and take five large steps away from it. Try to throw the stone so that it comes to rest on the ping-pong paddle. It’s whole lot easier with that marshmallow.

Finally, hit the stone with the ping-pong paddle and then again with the tennis racquet. What I want you to experience here is the rebound of strings in the tennis racquet. The flexibility (or compression) creates energy and sends the stone a greater distance. Granted, a golf ball is only on the face of the club for a fraction of a second, but the principle is the same.

It might seem ironic, and the crux of our dilemma, that the player seeking more distance would prefer a softer core (the ball will compress) and it is advantageous for the adept player to play a ball with a firm core. This seems like a tough assignment; we want the pliant to be rigid, we want to have our cake and eat it, too. Historically, this has been a hurdle for ball manufacturers; different types of players looking for answers to seemingly incongruent challenges.

Yet, golf ball manufactures have been making tremendous improvements in order to satisfy the desires of passionate golfers. Through blends of unique materials (urethane or zynthane to name a couple) and different combinations of ingredients, we may be close to locating the perfect golf ball.

Here is a short list to help you find your best choice. If you are looking for maximum yardage and don’t care about feel (marshmallow) around the greens, a safe bet is to use a ball with something like ‘distance’ or ‘straight’ in the title. Try the Titleist DT or the Bridgestone E7 ball.

Perhaps you need distance, but you don’t want to make a large sacrifice when it comes to feel. You know how hard it is to throw a rock onto the face of a ping-pong paddle. Try a Callaway Chrome, a Bridgestone E5, or one of the Titleist NXT balls.

Or, you might be the type of player who does not need more distance. You want a ball that performs well around the greens and is consistent. Try the Bridgestone B330-S, the Nike RZN Black, and the Titliest ProV1.

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 general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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