“You can’t curve the modern golf ball.”
I’ve been entertained and puzzled whenever I’ve heard this comment. It just didn’t fit my personal experience, and after Bubba Watson’s Masters victory I have a very good chance of not hearing it again.
I’m standing on the first tee watching the groups in my weekly skins game tee off. It’s a nice opening hole, a gentle dogleg right par 5 with O.B. right and a lot of room to the left. As the twenty or so players tee off I see high and low slices out of bounds, low snap hooks into the left rough, and high, arching hooks even deeper into weeds. So, I think, “Maybe they mean you can’t curve the modern ball on purpose? That doesn’t make much sense.”
So I hit one down the right side, but in the fairway. To get around the dogleg I need to hit a fade (or slice) around the trees guarding the corner. I open my stance a little and give it my natural, crappy swing with no effort at hitting it well. I just let my body do what it did all the time back when I was a bogey golfer at best. Most of the time it slides around the corner, assuming it doesn’t slide too much and hit the trees or I don’t hit it with my new and improved swing. “Can’t curve that ball? Sure.”
And then there’s Bubba. My slider around the corner looks straight compared to what he can do, and he can do it on command both ways. I doubt he’s playing with an old liquid center, wound, balata ball. (Didn’t you love to cut those things open and watch the rubber bands unwind? And I always wondered what kind of liquid was in that center. It smelled kind of funky, but I never had the courage to taste it.)
So thanks, Bubba. You gave me another great Masters memory and maybe, just maybe, removed one irritating bit of conventional wisdom from my world.
Of course, your game has the possibility of clearing out a lot of that conventional wisdom.
“Didn’t you love to cut those things open … ”
Or unintentionally cutting open a balata ball with your 3-iron and leaving a “smile” on the ball!
These days the most damage I can do to a ball comes from a good bang into a tree or the cart path. I almost feel guilty “retiring” one. I had much better excuses for new balls back in the balata days.