Does there come a point when a new ball starts to underperform? Am I crazy to use a ball until I lose it? These things are $4 apiece! – Nick Foster, Palm Coast, Fla.
Play it 'till you lose it, says Frederick Waddell, senior manager of golf-ball product management at Titleist. As long as the ball looks good to your eye, it's ready for the next tee, he says. You're not going to wear the ball out by playing it round after round, and you won't decrease its ball speed or lower its spin rate. That said, if it hits something like a tree or cartpath, give it a close look. Shear or scuff marks about the size of a dime or greater will likely affect the dimples and compromise its aerodynamics.
How are groupings decided for the first day of a PGA Tour event? – Barry Bagley, Palm Desert, Calif.
For tee-time purposes, the PGA Tour sorts players into three classes. The first consists of major champions, recent tournament winners and players with an accomplished body of work. They get the better times, meaning not crazy early or late, and are likely to appear on TV Thursday or Friday. The second category comprises active and successful performers, fully exempt players who are solidly inside the top 125. The final group is for Monday qualifiers, players with limited playing status and those playing on sponsor exemptions.
Tournament hosts do have a measure of autonomy. A local hero playing on a sponsor exemption can magically draw a more favorable time within his category, so area fans don't have to start loading the car at 5 a.m.
If my Index is 9.3, am I a 9 or a 10 handicap for Equitable Stroke Control? Is the max I can take on any hole a double bogey or a 7? – Bob Pape, Ponte Vedra Beach
Equitable Stroke Control is a way to keep really bad holes from unfairly inflating golfers' handicaps. With ESC, the maximum number of strokes you can take on any hole is based not on your Index but your course handicap. So if your 9.3 translates to a course handicap of 9 or lower, the most you can take on any hole for handicap purposes is double bogey. When your 9.3 gives you a course handicap of 10 or higher, your max score on any hole for handicap purposes is 7, regardless of par on the hole. Note: In 2020, when the new World Handicap System kicks in, the most you'll be able to take on any hole is a net double bogey, regardless of your course handicap.
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