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Polara: The most defiant ball in golf

May 12, 2011

Twenty years ago, the renowned cartoonist Johnny Hart (B.C., Wizard of Id) penned a B.C. strip in which a cavewoman known as the Cute Broad is playing golf with the caveman Peter.

"Let me get this straight," the Cute Broad says. "The less I hit the ball the better I'm doing."

"That's right," Peter replies.

"Then why do it at all?" the Cute Broad asks.

This comic strip came to mind in the wake of the stories this week about the re-emergence of the Polara golf ball, designed via its asymmetrical dimple pattern to self-correct when it is oriented properly. By placing the ball with its side-stamp arrow pointing toward the target, the ball won't hook or slice nearly to the degree that other balls would.

Of course the ball does not conform to USGA rules, which stipulate that "the ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetrical ball." The symmetry rule was added in 1981 in direct response to the original Polara, which was introduced in 1977 and eventually ruled by the USGA to be illegal for tournament play. The company sued the USGA, which eventually agreed to pay a settlement of $1.4 million.

Aero-X Golf, the company that now owns the rights to the Polara, has re-introduced the ball with newer technology and without regard for the rules. "Polara golf balls are designed for recreational golfers that want to take advantage of technology improvements designed to help golfers enjoy the game more," a news release states.

So what does the USGA have to say about it?

"You know the easiest way to get the ball in the middle of the fairway?" Dick Rugge, senior technical director of the USGA, told the New York Times. "Walk down there and place it with your hand. Who are you kidding?"

The Cute Broad couldn't have said it better herself.

-- John Strege