It certainly was not too much like it. It was the same marking. There never was a better marking for a golf ball and I doubt if there ever will be. I was the first to put it on the rubber-cored ball, where it, and nothing else, should be to-day. Any slight deviation of flight can be immediately corrected by altering the depth and width of the lines by the minutest fraction of an inch.
I need not now emphasize the change in thought that has taken place with regard to the marking of the golf ball. It is no longer King Pimple, and the good London tradesmen who said rude things about me are selling and praising millions of dimple balls which would be much better fliers, if they only knew it, if the dimples had communication trenches.
What would a champion billiard player think of one who suggested to him that it would improve the run of the balls if one were to put little lumps all over them. Well, be it remembered, that the effect is the same on a billiard table and a putting green. The degree is what varies.
Following this illustration it is easy to see that if one cuts grooves into a billiard ball it would affect the truth of its running much less than the same sized excrescences would, or to confine the example to pimples and dimples, a golf ball could rest on one dimple, but it requires three or four pimples to hold it steady. This is about the relative reliability or stability in the final test of rolling on a perfect plane.
It is in short puts on fiery greens that the vice of the bramble marking shows itself. If in addition to this, the golfer is ill-advised enough to use a shallow-faced putter, he will indeed require our sympathy.
This question of bramble marking is of more importance as one nears the hole. Very many people cannot believe how little it takes to put a two foot put off the line. Suppose in such a put one hits a pimple fairly on the head and it happens to lie across the line to the hole and not in it. Will it affect the direction? Undoubtedly. It would not matter in an approach put. The strength would overcome the crudity of your implements and would hold the ball up against the irregularities of its surface, but it is less so as one gets nearer to the hole.
I must give here an instance from another game that seems to me quite apposite. A tennis racket was introduced some years ago for which the inventor claimed superior power to obtain cut because every intersection of the strings was knotted. One could indeed get a great degree of spin with this racket, but it was found that in the delicate volleys at the net the knots interfered badly with the accuracy of the stroke, so much indeed, as to render the racket quite useless for practical tennis. The same thing exists, near the hole particularly, with the ball that is marked by pimples, brambles or any other excrescences.
Any chapter on the golf ball would be incomplete without some account of the remarkable series of experiments conducted by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey, the famous wild-fowler and author of The Projectile Throwing Engines of the Ancients.
During the early stages of the controversy Sir Ralph wrote to me and very kindly volunteered to conduct a series of tests I had suggested if I would send him the golf balls, which I very gladly did.
Sir Ralph has some wonderful catapults constructed on the same lines as the mischievous machines that formed the heavy artillery of the Romans. With one of these he could hurl a twelve pound stone a quarter of a mile. As a neighbor his good-will should, I think, be worth cultivating.
He used a smaller machine for the experiments he made for me. His results were extremely interesting and they were embodied in two articles which occupied three columns of The Times. I shall give as fully as I can those points of interest to the golfer and the golf ball manufacturer, in the hope that the latter may realize quickly the soundness of my contention and banish the pimple or bramble marking.
One important thing that Sir Ralph did was to show that the center of gravity is wrong in a great majority of balls. I suspect that it must be very hard to get a rubber-core with its "floating center" right in this particular.
Many golfers would think that this is a matter of practically no importance. Let them proceed to undeceive themselves by making a small hole in the case of a ball, inserting a buck shot, fixing it there with soap or wax, and trying to put with it. Then they will have a better understanding of what center of gravity means.
HARRY VARDON Finish of Drive.
I may say that I am inclined to think that the peculiar double swerve that one so often sees at golf is the result of defective center of gravity. I have often seen well-hit drives by famous golfers swerve to the right, swing back again to the line and go on to the hole without deviation from the line.
I am familiar with the rare phenomenon of double swerve through an adventitious change of the axis of rotation during flight. This practically never occurs in golf and when one sees it in any other game there is always a considerable amount of irregularity about it, as, indeed one might expect from the nature of its production; but this sinuous double swerve of golf is so regular and so consistent in its manifestation, when it does occur, that I have been forced to the conclusion that it is a matter of defective center of gravity.
A manufacturer will not supply a customer with something he does not demand. The golfer is a good natured soul who takes what is given to him, for the most that can be got out of him, and asks no questions. When he cannot play he says nasty things about himself, which generally is right and also a proper frame of mind; but, oh, happy thought, if he only knew it, the golf ball is not doing its fair share as often as it ought to. The shape, resiliency, and center of gravity of the golf ball are matters of the utmost importance to the golfer, yet he takes all these for granted with a confidence that is quite touching. One may take fifty golf balls and test them for shape, resiliency, center of gravity and weight, and the odds are even that twenty-five of them are different from the other twenty-five.