Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Tournament Ball

On Monday this week 24 players from the Canadian Tour played the “tournament ball.” I got to see one of the balls and it has nothing on it except a very cryptic code that would be appropriate on the side of a German U-Boat. The ball had nothing that would make it clear who had made it.

24 players played it and had to agree to complete confidentiality on the results. I spoke the next day at a Pro-am and interestingly enough the subject that I choose was the impact on the ball on golf design. I had a number of players who approached me after the talk and a couple mentioned they had played the ball yesterday and how ironic it was that I was talking about how much a role back would help as designer. There was no criticism from anyone that I spoke to.

One player in particular went so far as to mentioned that he loved the ball since it required him to hit one of two clubs more into all the holes and felt that this rewarded skill. He also felt that they were playing the holes as they were designed to play and that was placing a premium back on the approach and ball placement. He felt that anything that returned shot-making was better for the game. He also pointed out the great layouts they used to play that have become too short and felt that was reason enough for change.

I talked to the commissioner Rick Janes about the ball from a designer’s perspective and went into detail about safety, acreage requirements, the additional maintenance requirements, extra time to play and the overall impact on the cost of golf. I told him that in my perspective this had nothing to do with defending par, and everything to do with fixing the economics and stemming the decline in participation. And as the player above said, getting them back on some old great layouts that technology is making less relevant.

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