It is easy to test the rubber-cored balls as regards their center of gravity. Sir Ralph did this by placing the ball he desired to test in a basin of water until it came to rest, when he marked the center of the spot that was protruding with a pencil. He found that this spot always came back to the same place, no matter how the ball was dropped into the water or rolled about. This showed conclusively that the center of gravity was wrong.
Sir Ralph found that the guttie ball, as was to be expected, was much truer as regards center of gravity than the rubber-cored balls. He tried these and the miniature ball that would not float in water, in a solution of salt and water.
His experiments were really most exhaustive.
He found that there was a considerable variation in the degree of error. In some cases, especially with the smaller balls, the marked spot came up in two seconds, while some of the others took from four to six seconds. He estimated the comparative error in these balls by putting the marked spot downwards in the water and then taking the time it took the ball to return to its original position with the spot in the center of the exposed portion.
The catapult that Sir Ralph used for his experiment with regard to the flight of the ball was a small model of the formidable machine I have already referred to. It will pitch a golf ball from 180 to 200 yards away according to the amount of tension employed and the elevation given.
The power of the engine comes from twisted cord and the arm of the machine is two feet eight inches long. There is a cup at its upper end which holds the ball. Sir Ralph can throw the balls any intermediate distance up to 200 yards and at any elevation he wants. He conducted experiments with balls thrown by this catapult and also with balls hit away by it, as he says, in a manner similar to a golf club. He found that in each case he got unvarying accuracy. There was no slice, pull or cut, as indeed was natural.
Sir Ralph found that the accuracy of flight of a good ball was very remarkable. He pitched one ball twenty times so that it landed each time within a few feet of a peg put in at 180 yards from the machine.
Sir Ralph found, as I had confidently asserted would be the case, that against the wind the balls with the roughest markings always carried the shortest distance and that they tended to soar a good deal in their flight. This generally came in after they had gone about two-thirds of the carry. It is apparent from this I think, that in all cases of drives with backspin the excessive markings would be detrimental so far as regards distance.
Sir Ralph found that in this matter of soaring there was a distinct difference between the very rough balls and those that were a little less so. He proved beyond the least shadow of doubt that on account of reduced friction the less roughly marked balls carried farther than those which were heavily marked. Naturally the flight of these balls being lower they had on this account also an advantage.
These remarkable experiments showed too that in a cross wind unless there is spin on a golf ball it is not affected nearly so much as most people think. It was found that in a fresh side wind from the left all the balls except the guttie, at a range of 130 yards, landed 8 to 12 yards to the right of the mark, and that the more roughly-marked balls consistently showed the greatest deviation from the line.
In this experiment Sir Ralph discovered a very-remarkable fact. It was always the ball with the most defective center of gravity that made the worst deviation and it always ran at a more acute angle off the line of flight after it struck the ground.
We thus see that it was always the most roughly marked balls that suffered most from the action of the wind. We see that it was one of them, which also suffered from a defective center, that was carried the extreme of twelve yards off the line. We may thus assume that in this distance this would probably be the maximum deviation in a wind of the nature described by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey.
When we consider this result we can see the golfer is frequently suffering from a very severe handicap that he does not even suspect, when he uses a ball that allows the wind to get such a grip of it as the bramble marked ball does, and which moreover has superimposed upon this handicap a defective center, which carries it further off the line, and the added vice, after landing, of running away at a sharp angle to the line of its drift. What a virgin field is here for him who would clearly explain in a scientific and convincing manner that it was not he that sliced the ball, but -and this is where it comes in.
I sent Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey some samples of the almost smooth ball that I have referred to on account of its extraordinary flight. I called this ball "The Buff" to distinguish it from others.
Sir Ralph says of it: "This ball was quite smooth, as smooth indeed as a billiard ball. I tried this smooth ball from the engine and it 'ducked' every time in an extraordinary manner, its length of carry being seldom more than eighty yards."
This is the ball the interstices of which had been nearly filled up with paint. It was nearly as smooth as a billiard ball, much more nearly indeed than had been intended.
Sir Ralph thought that for some unexplained reason the form of this ball might not be suitable for discharge by a projectile engine, so he carried his experiments further still. Let me quote him.
He says: "... and as I could not drive it further than about eighty yards with a golf club, I engaged the well-known professional Edward Ray, to play a round of the green with this ball at Ganton. As Ray is an exceptionally long and accurate player with driver and cleek I felt the ball would have a fair chance of going, if it could go. From the first tee the ball did not carry a hundred yards, though, to all appearances, struck clean and hard. I thought that for once in a while Ray had missed his drive, but as the same thing occurred from every tee and through the green for the next six holes, there was no disputing that a smooth ball was quite useless for golf. I then proceeded to nick the ball slightly with the point of a knife, spacing the small raised nicks about one third of an inch apart, the ball being still a very smooth one in comparison to any of the usual kinds. After this slight alteration the ball flew splendidly, whether off wood or iron clubs, neither too high nor too low, but quite straight, and with the very slight rise towards the end of its carry that is the essence of perfect flight in a golf ball, some of the carries when measured from the tee being well over two hundred yards."