The one great weakness of the rubber-core ball has always been its tendency to crack, but improved methods of manufacture have reduced this defect very sensibly. Indeed, the marvel is that the balls stand up so well as they do, everything considered. The experience acquired in the last six or seven years has been responsible for only a very trifling increase in distance, and unless some substance having greater resiliency than rubber is introduced it would appear as if finality had been practically reached. And it is just as well that it should be so.
Some players still sigh for a general return to the old guttie - certain people always will be found with a longing for the so-called "good old days" of this, that, and the other thing - but the vast majority agree that the pleasure of the game, has been considerably enhanced by the introduction of the rubber-core. It is true that it has had the result of bringing all classes of players somewhat closer together, but, after all, skill is the predominant factor in the game in determining the ranking of players, and so long as this is so we need not unduly concern ourselves as to the instruments of play.
I should say that the player who averages 150 yards with a guttie can get 165 yards with a rubber-core, and so on in a descending scale. There practically ceases to be any appreciable advantage when we come to the 190 or 200 yard mark with the player using a guttie - excepting with the wind. These, be it understood, are general approximations. There are, singularly enough, isothe Long Game lated exceptions, working both ways. For instance, I find that against a strong wind I can get several yards farther with a gut-tie; with no wind, gain from 5 to 10 yards with a rubber-core; and, with a following wind, from 10 to 20 yards on the average. Yet, curiously, other players, of equal driving strength with a guttie, can get farther against the wind with the rubber-filled ball than with a guttie, while the other distances remain approximately the same. The harder a guttie is hit the greater is the gain in distance. This is not so, to the same extent, with the rubber-core. To all but extraordinarily long drivers it can, however, be driven somewhat farther, the increase in distance depending largely on the character of the swing.
Coming now to iron play, it is here that the gain is greater, proportionately, than off wood, the ball itself being endued with a greater measure of resiliency than the guttie, and therefore being capable of easier and longer propulsion. Owing, also, to this quality, it can be played more easily out of a poor lie; and there is not, moreover, any jar or shock if it be half-topped or hit off the heel or toe.
In approaching, if the ordinary stroke be employed, it will run somewhat farther than the guttie after alighting, noticeably so on hard ground, and allowance requires to be made accordingly. But under ordinary conditions, and especially when the ground is soft, it will pull up very quickly with the application of decided cut. I am not sure, indeed, but that the tendency to run after pitching cannot be more effectually checked, under favorable conditions, than with the guttie. As a putting ball I consider it preeminent; and I supported this opinion at a period, not so many years ago, when the general judgment was against me. It is true that it is livelier, and responds more readily to the slightest tap, than the guttie, and therefore calls for greater delicacy of touch; but this very fact, generally regarded as a defect, is precisely what so strongly commends it to me. I think one can "feel" the ball better, and its very liveliness induces a tendency to putt it - to go through with the stroke - rather than to hit a less responsive ball. And in this smooth and delicate performance of putting, and letting the club gently and harmoniously follow through, the mind is never disturbed with the thought that one may strike the ball twice - it leaves the club too quickly for that.
One thing may, however, be urged against it: it has a trick of jumping the hole if going a trifle fast, or of swerving around the cup and remaining on the outside unless it strikes plumb against the centre of the back. The guttie will do these things, too, but not quite so badly.
On the other hand, these defects in one respect become virtues in another, as I do not think it is so easily diverted from the line by irregularities of surface or coarse grass; it seems to skim over them, and does not hug the ground so closely as the guttie.
Quite a number of balls will be collected which are perfectly good, except that the paint has been knocked off or otherwise affected. They need only repainting to be practically as good as new. First, it is necessary to let them stand in a bath made of a solution of caustic potash, or lye, to remove the old paint. About one-third of the ordinary can" mixed with half a bucketful of water will suffice for about a couple of dozen balls. If the paint is obdurate apply a little more potash or put on a pair of rubber gloves and take an old brush and thoroughly remove all traces of the paint from the markings. Before applying the first coat of new paint see that the ball is thoroughly dry. Be careful also to let each coat of paint thoroughly dry before putting on the next. From three to four coats are required, each as thin as possible. The first coat should fill in all the interstices. The paint may easily be applied by rolling the ball well in the palms of the hands.