Have a ball, there’s plenty to pick from

By: Shawn Kelly, Journal Golf Columnist
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The golf ball has come a long way over the past 100 years. All the way from a wet rawhide cover filled with chicken feathers to today’s space-age cores and durable covers for maximum distance and control. Manufacturers all claim theirs to be the longest and the straightest ball available. Some claim to spin the most or spin the least or feel the softest or roll the truest. There is even one ball called the Noodle. It is so named because it’s supposedly long and soft. The common thread here is that in order to be played in sanctioned competition, they must all be approved by the USGA and must meet strict specifications to comply with the Rules of Golf. Without this USGA certification, a golf ball would simply not be marketable. Golf ball anatomy Golf ball cores are made from many different materials, some rather exotic. The current list runs from the old rubber-band windings to new multi-layered polymers or titanium centers. There’s even muscle fiber. A golfer would need to hold a Ph.D in inorganic chemistry just to come close to be able to pronounce the names of some of the materials that ball manufacturers are using today in the products they bring to your local pro shop. Golf ball covers come in many different high-tech materials as well. There is surlyn, urethane elastomer and beta titanium to just name a couple. Each of these new cover materials will impart a different feel. Some will feel hard and some soft. Some will influence the ball to spin more and others to spin less. Dimple configuration has recently become the hot topic. Dimple patterns and configurations all have distinct aerodynamic properties that affect ball flight characteristics. A ball may have as many as 432 dimples. Dimples may be hexagon- or oval-shaped. There is even a ball with a dimple inside of a dimple. Which ball is best? There is no one best ball. Every golfer has different needs in their own game. Some players need to hit it as long as possible, some need a softer ball for feel and some others need to have a ball that spins more or less for control. For players that are still new to the game and don’t know or care what ball they play, I suggest buying the least expensive value packs or even trying “experienced balls” available in golf shops. If you are more serious about your game and trying to decide on the perfect ball for you, try a few different brands and see which feels good on the clubface and suits your game the best. If you find a ball that meets your criteria, that one would be a good ball for you. If you still can’t decide, choose the ball with the coolest logo or the one that your favorite tour player tees up. Whichever “tater” you select as your own personal brand, don’t switch around. Rather, stay with that same ball because its unique feel will be consistent — which, in turn, will allow you to gain confidence and inspire you to post some lower numbers. Women’s clinic slated I will be conducting a clinic for women golfers from 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday at The Ridge. The clinic will be on chipping and pitching. Cost is $25 and space is limited. Call (530) 888-7888 to reserve your spot. Shawn Kelly is a PGA professional at The Ridge Golf Club. He can be reached for questions or lessons at (530) 888-PUTT.