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Ask Golf Digest

April 30, 2019

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Q: During the offseason, I hit drivers into an indoor net using the same six balls over and over. Three of them shattered. I probably hit each about 160 times, and I swing at 103 miles per hour. Am I superhuman, or do golf balls have a shelf life?
BRIAN JOHNSON, EUGENE, ORE.

A: Though the ball demolition isn't 100 percent because of your high clubhead speed, it's definitely a contributing factor. All golf balls eventually break after repeated hits, and they break faster the harder they're struck, says Petra Petrich, Callaway's senior research manager for golf-ball R&D. Balls are designed to be used on the course, where they might last three or four rounds and be hit at a variety of orientations and at varying speeds, not just a full-out driver. Hitting into a net makes matters worse, because the ball endures impact from club delivery and then deflection when it contacts the net backstop. Short answer: What you experienced is not unexplainable, but it is impressive!

When is it advantageous for a golfer to start using midsize or jumbo grips?
JERRY PAULL, ARLINGTON, VA.

There's no particular “best time.” A lot of senior players like larger grips with extra cushioning because it makes the swing more comfortable. A larger grip might also help you hold onto the club if you're suffering from arthritis. There is research that says larger grips provide a sense of better control of the club for high-handicap players. The downside is that grip size affects how your hands work in the swing, and bigger means less hand action, says Nick Sherburne, founder of Golf Digest 100 Best Clubfitter Club Champion. “Typically, if the grips get too big, ball flight goes more right because of a late release.” Most fitters agree that finding the right size grips for your hands (big or small) is more important than pushing a “feeling.”

The new rules for 2019 allow putting with the flagstick in the hole. Can a player still ask someone to tend the flag, or must one decide “in” or “out” before putting?
ROB FREEDMAN, RIVER VALE, N.J.

Not to worry. You can still ask someone to tend the flag, with the understanding that he or she will remove it when the ball arrives. You can't ask someone to tend it and then, after striking the ball, change your mind and start screaming, “Leave it in. Leave it in!” While we're on the topic: Our research suggests that you're better off removing the flag. Unless you hit the stick squarely, it reduces the chances of the ball dropping. See “Take the Flagstick Out!” in our May 2019 issue or golfdigest.com/go/flagstick.

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