Make More Putts Using Balanced Golf Balls
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BackgroundTom Wishon, in his book “The Search for the Perfect Golf Club” talks about his surprise when he visited a friend’s lab after that person had purchased a new putting robot. The friend opened a new sleeve of balls and followed the procedure outlined below, Method 1, to find the heavy and light sides of the balls. He then deliberately placed the balls with the heavy and light sides adjacent to the heel and toe of the putter. In other words, the heavy side/light side imaginary line was perpendicular to the intended path of the putt. With the heavy side near the putter toe, the ball would consistently move 3-6 inches to the right. With the heavy side at the heel, the ball would move to the left by about the same amount. In other words the ball would move in the direction of its heavy side. When the heavy or light side was at the top of the ball, the putt would roll on the intended line into the cup when struck by the robot.
I’m guessing the putts Wishon was watching were about 15-20 feet in length, based on the results described by Dave Pelz, the well-known short game guru, in his book “Putt Like the Pros”. Pelz did a similar experiment with a machine he designed and built called the True Roller. Pelz discovered that the worst balanced golf balls he found would move to the right or left, as described above, 2 ˝ inches on a putt of 10 feet. On average the balls would roll one inch either way. Since the cup is only a little more than 4 inches in diameter, Pelz considers that much variation a problem, especially for good putters. Pelz also found that balata balls were much better in this regard than Surlyn covered balls since they had less sideways movement.
Addressing the Problem- Method 1- Cheap but Somewhat Time Consuming
Purchase some Epsom salts at the supermarket (Note- Epsom salts are not the same thing as regular salt, so you can’t use the latter for this). Put 6 tablespoons of Epsom salts in a fairly open vessel. You need enough surface area to be able to get your fingers in there and spin a golf ball. Pour in about one cup of warm water and stir to dissolve the Epsom salts. Put a golf ball into the liquid and see if it floats. If it doesn’t add a bit more Epsom salts until the ball floats. You can also add a drop of Jet-Dri brand dishwasher de-spotting agent to reduce friction and make the ball spin easier.
Spin each golf ball and let it spin freely until it stops. Take a felt pen marker and put a dot at the very top of the ball. This marks the lightest side of the golf ball, as the heaviest side is on the bottom in the solution.
Spin the ball a second time. If the same spot ends up at the top, the ball is indeed out of balance. Mark the ball with a second dot which in this case will be near the first dot. If another spot is now at the top, the ball is probably well balanced.
To make use of these results draw a line through the two dots which are close together on the unbalanced balls. Use this line on the ball as an alignment aid, which means the ball will roll on the light side/heavy side axis. You can now have confidence that you have eliminated golf ball variations for your putts.
Comments Regarding This Technique
I was somewhat disappointed with this experiment, expecting more repeatable results. I found only one ball in six that would consistently have the dot end up at the top after spinning the ball several times. Another ball was sort of marginal, that is, it would stop with the dot fairly near the top, but not exactly there. Four balls would not stop spinning near the old spot, indicating they were apparently pretty well balanced. Somehow I didn’t feel my results were very convincing, and it also took quite a while to set this up and do the experiment on six golf balls. Of course it was the first time I tried it and no doubt the second attempt would be faster. Also, it was a bit difficult to get the balls to spin well. One definitely needs enough of an opening to do this. I had to change cups in mid-stream to get what seemed like a decent spinning ball.
Method 2- Purchase a Machine
I did some research on Golfsmith, and they sell a machine for $34.95 that will indicate the heavy or light spot, and it also has a sort of template and they provide a pen to mark the balls with a line as well. If you are a serious player you might want to purchase one of these, or let your spouse or kids know about it when they ask what you want for your birthday or for Christmas. The machine would seem to be the best solution to eliminate golf ball imbalance from your putting equation. Making putts is hard enough without missing them just because of the golf ball. Note- do a search for Product No. 247431 on the Golfsmith site. The product is called the Technasonic Check-GO Pro Sweet Spot Finder. Here is a link to Golfsmith- Click on this link- Save Big on great deals at Golfsmith's Special Offers page!
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