Golf Ball Balance and True Roll

Frank,

You talked about a line on a ball a while back. To take this a bit further, it seems to me that a few years ago some company was advertising this little machine that was sort of a gyroscope that would spin your golf balls and when finished you were to mark a dot on it, and THEN draw a line through that dot and this was supposed to allow the ball to roll true when struck properly along that line. Some manufacturers have a sight line already printed on the ball. Is there any validity to that gyroscope finding the polar sections of the ball and if so is this time consuming practice of spinning all of your golf balls worthwhile?

Art

Art,
As you know I don’t suggest that you mark a line on the ball for aiming purposes.

Some tour pros do it successfully, but we have found when working with many elite golfers (including tour pros) at the Frankly Putting PAD, that all too often a mental conflict arises when the line on the ball does not appear to be pointing in the same direction as the target line, as seen by the golfer when they get over the ball ready to strike it. This is not good.

In your question, you ask about the validity of finding the balance point of a ball; marking this with a dot and drawing an aim line through this dot.

What you are doing is you are really trying to identifying a point on the ball surface in line with and connecting the geometric center and the mass center.  If you place this spot on top when putting the ball should roll on a true path.

We assume that the ball is significantly out of balance for you to take advantage of this phenomenon. Today’s balls are very much better balanced than balls were twenty years ago, so if you use a premium ball or even the next level or two down there should be no reason to try to find this balance point.

If you are not convinced, then float your golf balls in a solution of salt water (enough salt get them to just float). After spinning them slowly mark the point which ends up on top when it comes to rest. Spin the ball a few more times and if the same spot lands up on top then mark this spot permanently. This should be the point you position facing skyward when you are about to putt it.

Hope this helps
Frank   

7 thoughts on “Golf Ball Balance and True Roll

  1. I tried spin balancing and the ball-line method. I lost feel for the distance when I took the time to do it. Also, on curving putts I didn’t exactly know where to aim the ball because I don’t make up my mind exactly how hard I am going swing until I have the feel from my practice stokes.
    The one thing I do remember was how pure the drive felt when I hit the center of gravity marks on the target line. However, this proved to be another distraction that didn’t help.
    Finally, I played a round with the ball misaligned on every shot. It wobbled but I still scored well. So I no longer use this technique.

  2. If a golf ball were so significantly out of balance that marking the heavy spot so that it rolls true on the green actually helped, then imagine what it would do when flying through the air and spinning at 6,000 or more RPMs! The effect of “imbalance” on a spinning sphere (gyroscopic inertia) might be best demonstrated in bowling, where good players that can generate sufficient revolutions can use imbalance to their advantage. In golf, I’d think that a poorly balanced golf ball might be doing “barrel-rolls” during flight such as a ball that has mud on it when struck. I could be wrong, but I’d say that if it flies straight, it’ll roll true.

    • I can tell you that some balls are worse than others and it is rare to find a perfect one. I have float-balanced a lot of balls and there is a pretty clear correlation between high cost and good balance. Although even with expensive balls, some are worse than others. I have to assume the pros get balls from the factory that are balanced, with the cost of missing putts at that level being so high. Ralph Maltby has done experiments showing that a worst-case ball can actually miss the hole on a 10ft, flat, straight putt.

  3. If you have found that the ball when floating in a brine solution comes to rest in the same spot consistently, it might be better to discard the ball rather than use it, especially for full shots where the off balance effect would be greater. You might have a “Rogue” ball that is outside the normal tolerances.

  4. I would never put a line or a dot on my golf balls to indicate the intended direction. I think it would mess with your head for sure. When you get behind the ball and eye up the intended line, then stand over the ball … unless you’re standing in a perfect direct line over the ball, the line will seem “off”. I wouldn’t want this conflict in my head. So I always set the ball pre-putt so that I see nothing but white when I look down on it. I’m basing my putt totally on the vision or the “movie” I see in my mind of the ball’s path going into the hole.

    • Seems to me that putting is the most individual aspect of golf, where any number of “methods” appear to work. From putter length, to grip size, to how one grips the putter, “pop” strokes, slow strokes… I find a line on the ball to be very helpful, especially on shorter putts. I have some sort of parallax issue that has me setting-up closed to what really needs to happen and the line eliminates that. As far as spinning, I can tell you it is BS. I bought one and if you spin a ball and mark it as instructed and then spin it a few more times, you will have lines all over the ball.

  5. Common sense (and maybe physics) yields a slightly different conclusion. Spinning a golf ball in a Check-Go device moves the center of mass of the ball to a plane perpendicular to the axis of spin, assuming the ball is spinning freely. Applying a marker pen to the equator of the ball while it is in a stable spin produces a line which will indicate a true roll of the center of mass around the ball’s center.

    I’ve been using one for 15 years or so. When I align the equator stripe with my intended line and square the putter face to it, I frequently watch the ball end-over-end into the hole. If the line wobbles, I failed to keep the face square to the line. If my distance feel is off, the ball stops short or (maybe) smacks the back of the cup and falls in. Perhaps balls are better balanced now; I don’t have the tools to measure that. My empirical data tells me that the process helps hole putts.

    And, yes, people think my ball looks funny with its little stripe. But it’s a distinctive marking and that’s useful. For the rest, everyone has an opinion, and a nose, and…

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