golf ball
USA Today Sports Images
Would changing golf balls for particular shots improve your score? Brian Mull polled some experts and the results may surprise you.

Imagine this scenario: On a 510-yard par-4, Jordan Spieth tees off with a high-launching, low-spinning golf ball. For his approach shot he replaces the ball with a lower-launching, higher-spinning golf ball more likely to land soft near the pin.

The USGA Rules of Golf prohibit such switching in the middle of a hole, of course. Rule 15-1 clearly states that a player must hole out with the ball used from the teeing ground.

The logic behind the rule is clear. Changing balls mid-hole would harm the integrity of the game, eliminating the ability to play the ball as it lies. Attempting to recreate lies in the rough or, say a bunker, could slow the game to a snail’s pace and in some cases require supervision or advice from a playing competitor.

The PGA Tour, like most organizations that run tournaments for skilled amateurs or professionals, takes the rule a step further by enacting the “One Ball Condition” -- which states players must use the same brand and type of golf ball throughout the round.

But for the sake of discussion, let’s assume the governing bodies tweaked the rules. Would allowing Tour pros to switch balls in the middle of a hole automatically lead to lower scores? And if so, how many strokes lower would they shoot?

The consensus from industry experts is most pros would try it. All players are looking for a competitive edge within reason. But those who play, teach and build equipment for those at the highest level also agree that eventually all would return to playing the same golf ball for all shots.

“There’s not enough difference in the golf balls for it to make any difference,” said Paul Dickens, PGA professional at Raleigh (North Carolina) Country Club.

Dickens played college golf at N.C. State with Carl Pettersson and Tim Clark, who have enjoyed successful PGA Tour careers. During those college days in the 1990s, the answer may have been different.

CBS sports announcer Gary McCord played the PGA Tour in the 1970s before the one-ball condition was in effect. According to a source, McCord kept a Pinnacle, Top Flite or similar hardcover golf ball in his bag in case it was needed to reach the green on a long par 3. At the time, a Tour player with average swing speed hit a hardcover ball 15-20 yards farther.

But when the Titleist Pro VI hit the PGA Tour at the Invensys Classic in Las Vegas in October 2000, it changed golf-ball technology forever.

It was the first solid core golf ball to receive widespread use on the Tour. Most pros hit it 10-20 yards farther than whatever wound core ball they were playing without sacrificing the soft feel. After 100 Titleist pros tested the ball, 47 put it in play in Las Vegas and shortly thereafter the rest followed suit. Not only did the ball fly farther with the driver and irons, it spun slightly less on wedge shots, giving the Tour players supreme control rather than violent backspin.

Billy Andrade used the ball to shoot 28-under par and win the Invensys Classic. According to, six of the top 11 finishers played the ball the first week.

Pretty soon, every golf ball manufacturer had a product similar to the Pro VI. The gap between all golf balls on the market has narrowed significantly in the last 15 years as technology has grown.

Data backs up Dickens’ assessment.

Gene Parente is the president of Golf Laboratories, an equipment testing company in San Diego, and is also a member of the Golf Digest Technical Advisory committee. His robot has hit thousands of shots with every club and ball manufactured since 1989.

“Based upon testing data my opinion is the overall scoring would not change, there are too many negatives that would mitigate any potential negatives,” Parente said.

Besides, pro golfers have to trust their golf ball. They choose a brand and type based on how it performs from the green backward and are unwilling to sacrifice performance on approach shots or around the greens. Also, once they make the choice they use that specific ball at home with friends, on the range at Tour events, everywhere.

Gaining similar confidence with a new golf ball would be difficult, especially if the reward is only 5 to 7 yards off the tee (for a golfer with a 120 mph swing speed) and accuracy is sacrificed.

The many variables in golf would also deter pros from wanting different balls for different portions of their game, one PGA Tour equipment representative said. What if a player put a high-spinning ball into play and then three inches of rain softened the greens overnight. Or the wind direction changed unexpectedly? Tour players and their caddies chart distances and details in meticulous fashion. Throwing even more variables into the mix would complicate matters and lead to six-hour rounds.

Todd Anderson, the director of golf at Sea Island, works with a number of Tour professionals. He sees little room for improvement with the modern ball and minimal difference from brand to brand.

"I could see where maybe if you could have a ball for each club, where it was designed for that club's loft, spin and launch conditions it might get a little bit better," he said. "But the ball we have now is unbelievably good."


Would changing golf balls for particular shots improve your score?
PGA of America
On Thursday, the PGA of America named Constellation ‘Official Energy Provider and Sustainability Partner’ for the PGA and its Major Championships, including the Ryder Cup.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2016) -- In a transformative, multi-year agreement, PGA of America has named leading competitive energy and services company Constellation its “Official Energy Provider and Sustainability Partner.” Constellation will work with the PGA to conduct energy efficiency analyses and recommend an actionable sustainability strategy and energy management program in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the organization. To kick off the partnership, Constellation will minimize the carbon footprint of the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

Constellation will become an energy and sustainability partner of the PGA of America, PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup, when based in the United States. As part of the agreement, Constellation will minimize the environmental impact of these signature events, as well as PGA of America properties through Green-e® Energy Certified* Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs)*.

“This is a historic day for the PGA of America, as our partnership with Constellation will bring us into the next generation of energy conservation and environmental awareness,” said PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua. “We are absolutely delighted that Constellation has partnered with the PGA to deliver their transformative expertise on clean energy, in order to establish a groundbreaking, impactful green signature throughout our iconic major championships and facilities, as well as educate PGA members and the golf industry on state-of-the-art green initiatives.”

Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), serves approximately 2.5 million residential, public sector and business customers, including more than two-thirds of the Fortune 100. Constellation maintains energy provider relationships with professional sports organizations including the NHL, numerous MLB, NBA, and NFL sports teams.

"Constellation is proud to partner with the PGA of America to achieve its energy and environmental goals and to increase awareness of responsible energy use among its members and the golf industry," said Joe Nigro, CEO of Constellation. "Their commitment to energy conservation serves as an example for the sports industry, fans and communities. We look forward to working together toward a more sustainable future."

The PGA of America and Constellation will also work together to promote responsible energy use and increase awareness around green initiatives in the golf industry, through communications that educate PGA Professionals and fans on the impact of the partnership.

“With over 25 million players annually, golf plays an important role in our efforts to leverage the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities where we live and play,” said Justin Zeulner, executive director and co-founder of the Green Sports Alliance. “We commend the PGA of America for their commitment to sustainability and are proud that they have chosen Constellation, an inaugural GSA member, as their official energy and sustainability partner.”

This agreement builds upon the PGA of America’s and the golf industry’s commitment to green energy and conservation. 77 percent of 18-hole golf facilities in the United States have already taken steps to conserve energy, while 66 percent of golf course facilities have completed upgrades to irrigation systems in the past 10 years. In addition, more than 90 percent of acreage on an 18-hole golf course is considered green space that provides benefits to the eco-system.
Similarly, golf’s use of water, frequently among the largest contributors to courses energy use, continues to improve. As an industry, a new Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) study shows courses reduced water use by nearly 22 percent from 2005-2013. As well, increased use of recycled water supported usage reductions from other sources, such as municipal or potable water.

Golf courses account for more than 2 million acres of green space in the United States. 

PGA of America names Constellation ‘Official Energy Provider and Sustainability Partner’ for the PGA and its Major Championships
August 31, 2016 - 3:35pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Patrick Reed
Golf Digest
Check out this video of Ryder Cup USA team member Patrick Reed knocking a drone out of the sky with his golf clubs.

Isn't it fun to break stuff on occasion? Especially expensive stuff that you don't have to replace?

In a recent video produced by our friends at Golf Digest, Ryder Cup USA team member Patrick Reed is tasked with attempting to knock a drone out of the sky armed with a golf club and a ball.

If you remember, Bubba Watson did the same thing a year ago.

As Reed notes at the start of the video, Watson's was a "wing-shot." For Reed's try, he said he would do a lot more damage.

Check out this video of Reed ripping shots at the drone while getting peppered with questions:



I had two favorite quotes from the video. The first was when Reed was asked how hard it is to win on the PGA Tour: "It's easier than hitting this drone."

Such a Patrick Reed response. I loved it.

And then after he absolutely tattooed the drone from close range: "The weapon of mass destruction was a Callaway Forged 4-iron."

While knocking a drone out of the sky like Reed and Watson have done is impressive, for my money it still doesn't touch the time that Brandt Snedeker went skeet shooting with a 4-iron:



Patrick Reed destroys drone with golf shot
August 24, 2016 - 11:04am
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T.J. Auclair
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Patrick Reed
On Tuesday afternoon, Patrick Reed took a trip into the city to bang the gavel for the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange when something hilarious unfolded.

Patrick Reed is in New York this week for the Barclays -- the opening event of the PGA Tour's Playoffs for the FedExCup -- taking place at Bethpage Black.

On Tuesday afternoon, Reed took a trip into the city to bang the gavel for the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

That's when this happened:



That's right -- Reed broke the gavel.

Love the look on Reed's face and the dude on the right when the thing soars into the air.

Did they expect anything less from a guy who once did this?



Patrick Reed breaks gavel at New York Stock Exchange
Brandt Snedeker
USA Today Sports Images
It's a busy week on the PGA Tour with the start of the FedExCup Playoffs opener -- the Barclays at Bethpage Black -- and the end of qualifying for U.S. Ryder Cup team hopefuls.

By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Darren Clarke got an extra week to start mulling over his three captain's picks for Europe in the Ryder Cup because the top nine already are set. Matthew Fitzpatrick finished fifth in the Czech Masters and locked up no worse than the final spot.

Davis Love III has a little more time, and he likely will need it.

Brandt Snedeker's tie for third in the Wyndham Championship moved him up three spots to No. 6, and it would take a peculiar set of circumstances to bump him out of the top eight. The Barclays this week at Bethpage Black is the final qualifying event.

The top five already have clinched a spot on the American team - Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Brooks Koepka. Snedeker is followed by Zach Johnson, who leads Patrick Reed at No. 8 by $157,602.

RELATED: 5 already in for U.S. | Ryder Cup fashion history | Ryder Cup coverage

The Barclays has an $8.5 million purse, so players still can make up ground.

Even so, the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs effectively serves as a Ryder Cup qualifier for 14 players.

The winner of the Barclays gets $1.53 million. Every $1,000 counts as a Ryder Cup point, so that's 1,530 points. And that means Charley Hoffman at No. 22 is the lowest player in the standings with a mathematical chance at qualifying.

Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas, who won tournaments last fall that did not count, are among those who can't qualify.

Reed, meanwhile, is the equivalent of $30,655 ahead of J.B. Holmes, who missed the cut last week at the Wyndham Championship. Right behind Holmes are Bubba Watson, Olympic bronze medalist Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler.

Fowler flew from the Olympics in Rio to North Carolina to try to boost his Ryder Cup points. He tied for 22nd and now is just over $365,000 behind Reed, meaning Fowler would have to finish no worse than a two-way tie for fourth to have a mathematical chance (and that assumes Reed misses the cut).

Love won't have to make his three picks until after the third playoff event at the BMW Championship, and his fourth pick will be made immediately after the Tour Championship. So there's still time for him, and for the players.

That could make it easy for Love - or more complicated.

LATE SURGE: Shawn Stefani was reminded how much time can fly, and how quickly fortunes can change.

He went 20 tournaments to start the new season before he cracked the top 20 - a tie for ninth at the St. Jude Classic - and kept reminding himself that he had plenty of time to turn his game around. And then it was almost too late.

"I'm usually a glass half-full guy," Stefani said. "Didn't get off to the start I wanted. I kept telling myself, 'We still got events left.' But you say in March there's 17 events left, and you look in July and there's four events left. You're like, 'I don't have a lot of time.' And I really felt I was close."

He came through at just the right time.

Stefani tied for 11th at the Travelers Championship two weeks ago. He was No. 133 in the FedEx Cup standings until the Wyndham Championship when he shot 66-66 on the weekend, making a birdie on the last hole to tie for 14th. That was enough to move him to No. 123 to qualify for The Barclays - and to keep his card for next year.

"Started to get a little emotional on 18," he said.

Matt Jones wasn't as fortunate. He missed the cut and dropped out of the top 125, as did Whee Kim. Jones missed by nine points.

OLYMPIC TRAINING: Stacy Lewis had not been home much this summer from playing and planning a wedding, but the Houston native had the perfect place to get ready for the Olympics. She's among tour players who now are members at Bluejack National, the first U.S. course by Tiger Woods Design.

Lewis said she became a member through relationships with Steve Elkington, and her husband Gerrod Caldwell knew the developers.

"I've been out there quite a few times when I've been home," Lewis said. "The grass is the same as here - the same zoysia, putting greens, everything. I think that helped a little bit this week just from hitting pitch shots."

Lewis tied for fourth, missing a playoff for the bronze by one shot.

She figures it will help going forward, which is why she prefers to practice at Bluejack even though it's a 45-minute drive from her house.

"It's worth it," she said. "You can spend all day there. They have a back practice greens and if you want it super fast for a tournament, 'We'll do that for you.' They've been very accommodating."

BEAT THE PRO: The KLM Open is taking fan involvement to a new level this year.

The KLM Open, to be played Sept. 8-11, is hosting a "Beat the Pro" competition during the tournament, offering amateurs a chance to hit a tee shot on the par-3 14th at The Dutch course. The hole will be turned into an amphitheater.

The KLM Open will have one amateur player tee off on the 14th with each group during the first and third rounds. Prizes will be offered to those who can hit their tee shots closer to the hole than the players.

"This will be an absolute highlight for the players and fans," Joost Luiten said. "I think it's great to have something going on around the hole. I don't think players will be distracted. On the contrary, I think they will love it. In the end we all want to play for as many fans as possible."

FEDEX CUP FINALE: The final three hours of the Tour Championship will feature more of Johnny Miller and less of the TV commercials.

Actually, there will be no commercials at all.

The PGA Tour has reached an enhanced sponsorship deal with Southern Company and Coca-Cola, which will allow for the final three hours of the broadcast on NBC to be commercial-free, which would include the entire back nine.

The new sponsorship deals are through 2020. The Tour Championship, the final event of the FedEx Cup, is Sept. 22-25.

DIVOTS: Jordan Spieth has the longest active streak - four years - of starting the FedEx Cup playoffs in the top 10. That includes his rookie year in 2013 when he started the year without a card. ... Paul Simson won his eighth title at Pinehurst last week with his one-shot victory in the Senior North & South Amateur. He won the North & South twice, and the senior version six times. ... Justin Rose will make his first appearance on home soil since winning the Olympic gold medal on Oct. 13-16 at the British Masters. ... Leona Maguire has won the Mark H. McCormack Medal for the second straight year as the leading player in the women's amateur golf ranking. Maguire, one of three amateurs who played in the Olympics, is going into her junior season at Duke. But she plans to go through LPGA Tour qualifying and said she will turn pro if she makes it. ... The PGA Tour will be in Malaysia for four more years after announcing that CIMB Group has extended its sponsorship through 2020.

STAT OF THE WEEK: The six Olympic golf medals went to six nations - Britain, Sweden, United States, South Korea, New Zealand and China.

FINAL WORD: "You can drink out of the claret jug. And I guess the Olympic gold would be a nice coaster for the glass of wine." - Justin Rose.

This article was written by Doug Ferguson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

FedExCup begins, Ryder Cup qualifying ends