This surely is a sufficient vindication of the soundness of my claim for less marking.
Sir Ralph, moreover, says that on his return home he shot this ball from his small catapult and that it then several times out-distanced the best record made by any of the other balls he had tested.
He was not, however, satisfied to leave it at that, but proceeded to chip up many more nicks on the same ball. He found that this reduced the flight of the ball by several yards and also caused it to soar too much against a head-wind as is the case with the ordinary rough-marked golf ball.
It will thus be seen that Sir Ralph was very thorough in his tests. In summing up his conclusions he says: "From such practical tests it is evident that the surface of the golf ball is far too rough, and that it would fly with more accuracy and farther, especially with a head or a side wind, had it much less numerous and prominent markings on its cover."
This is exactly what I contended in my original article. It is what I still say. It is what the makers of golf balls must realize if they want to improve the flight and run of the ball. Their work is too coarse. They will not see that. Golf is a game of infinite delicacy. It cannot be played coarsely. I do not believe that a really coarse man could play it very well. Near the hole it is a particularly delicate matter. We all know that except the ball makers.
Sir Ralph has some most interesting things to tell us about the experiments he made in driving with his machine.
He says: "This striking arm hit the ball away just as it is hit by a golf club. The ball I suspended by gossamer silk from the projecting beam of a little gallows fixed over the engine, and so positioned that the enlarged upper end of the arm struck the ball fair and true and with its full force and at the same angle every time."
I was not present at these experiments. Sir Ralph was, however, good enough to send me a copy of his book The Projectile Throwing Engines of the Ancients. I find it hard to follow him when he says, "This striking arm hit the ball away just as it is hit by a golf club," for the catapult was hitting the ball from below it while the golf club hits it from above. The arcs are entirely dissimilar. We know, however, that the balls were all struck in a similar manner and, where comparisons as to carry were to be made, with similar force.
Continuing his remarks about driving, he says: "Another curious thing; the ball with the most untrue center of gravity usually made one, and occasionally even two, swerves in the air when hit against the wind, though this eccentricity in its line of flight was less noticeable when it was thrown from the engine."
I had forgotten that Sir Ralph's experiments had in some degree confirmed my idea about the double swerve of the golf ball being due to defective center of gravity. Here, however, he sets us a new puzzle. It may be that the center being off the line and the main spring of the ball being around the center that the coefficient of restitution, as I think it is called, is strongest off the center and thus gives that side of the ball on which the core is situated a tendency to get away from the club first, soon to be corrected as the weightier side lagged, swung back and round to the other side and then repeated the performance for the return swerve. That is the only idea I can advance for this double swerve. I dealt with the subject of double swerve generally many years ago in The Field, London.
Sir Ralph Payne Gallwey was occupied for several days in these experiments. He fired fully five hundred shots and then he went inside and continued his experiments in order to arrive at a just comparison between the merits of these balls on the putting green.
It is not necessary just because this is a table d'hote dinner to take every course. Those who are not interested in this matter need not follow me here, but Sir Ralph's experiments as regards the run of the ball are so remarkable and so important that I have decided to put them on record in America so that they may do their share in affecting the new thought in golf and things appertaining to golf.
He says: "I obtained a piece of lead threequarters of an inch thick, two inches wide, and three feet long, in which I cut a straight and smooth groove one inch wide. One end of this piece of lead I rested on the cushion at the baulk end of a billiard table, and directed its other end towards the spot on which the red ball is placed in the game of billiards." Sir Ralph speaks here, of course, of English billiards. This spot is in the middle of the table about nine inches from the top cushion. The length of the table is twelve feet and its breadth six feet. "The forward end of the grooved lead I tapered off so that a ball ran evenly and smoothly from the groove onto the table without any drop or deviation as it left the piece of lead, which, from its weight, when once set, could not change its position. I now placed a thimble on the spot at the far end of the table and rolled an accurately turned wooden ball the same size as a golf ball down the sloping groove. After a little adjustment of the lead piece its line of fire was correct, and I was able to knock the thimble off the spot fifty times in succession. The ball traveled with sufficient speed just to reach the cushion beyond the thimble when the latter was moved aside, and the shot at the thimble nicely represented a slow put of eight feet in length."
Sir Ralph found on testing the different golf balls that he got widely different results. He took each ball and tried it twenty times at the thimble with the result that they seldom hit it more than three or four times in a series. Some of them rolled off as much as two feet to the right or left while those which had been proved guilty of a defective center of gravity occasionally rolled away into the corner pocket, a little matter of three feet off the line in eight feet. It sounds almost incredible but it is perfectly true. I had tried the same thing in a slightly different way myself. This is what the unfortunate golfer often has "going against him" on the green.
Sir Ralph emphasizes a point that I often make namely, that the inaccuracy of the bramble ball is overlooked because in approach puts the force of the blow holds it up against its own tendency to wabble. He says: "Any of the balls if played fairly hard from a cue could be made to strike the thimble every time, but then such a hard-hit ball would go far beyond the hole in golf, and probably overrun the putting green. The smooth billiard tablecloth may be taken to represent the hard, bare and fast putting green of a dry summer."
Sir Ralph was most thorough in his experiments. He covered the table with a strip of rough green baize and tried the balls again. He then found that the balls ran with much greater accuracy, except those that were defective as to center
© Brown Bros., A. I.
FRANCIS OUIMET Finish of Drive.
of gravity, and that they now hit the thimble eight or ten times in a series of twenty tries.
I think we may take it for granted that this series of experiments proved, that especially on a hard fast green, and particularly for puts that have not much force behind them the bramble or pimple marking, or indeed any marking by excrescence is most treacherous.
Sir Ralph's advice to the golfer about a golf ball is: "Select a ball with as smooth a cover as you can find, for though all golf balls require to be roughened in order to steady their flight, those most deeply scored travel the shortest distance, and are most affected by a head or side wind."
If the great controversy about the marking of the golf ball had had no other effect than this truly remarkable series of experiments by a man who is famous as a shot and an author, and who is moreover a practical golfer, it would still have served golf.