I have explained about the golf ball. And I have commented on the, unknown to me at the time, importance of the number on the golf ball. But I have yet to expound on the extreme importance of marking your golf balls. So here goes.
It’s very important to mark your balls. 98% of all golf balls are white. The manufactures put their stamp on the balls, but there are a limited number of manufacturers. Also certain balls, like for instance Titleist, are much more popular than others. What this means is there are a lot of balls that look very much alike out on the course. Which can make it hard to determine which one is yours. Perhaps you and your golfing partner both hit balls that rolled up over a hill and into a little depression on the other side. Once you walk up to them, which one is whose? Or maybe you hit an errant tee shot that lands in the fairway of the next hole over. And on top of that lands right next to the ball of a player who is actually playing that hole. Once again, how do you make sure which ball is yours? And when you lose your ball in the thick grass on the side of the fairway, how do you know the ball you found is really yours?
And making sure you know you are hitting your ball is no trivial matter. In the written rules playing the wrong ball is a 2 stroke penalty. And once the fact that you are playing the wrong ball has been discovered you have to go back and replay all the shots with the correct ball. This is bad enough, but there is also the matter of etiquette. You can breach etiquette a lot of ways during a round of golf ( and the golfing gods know I have probably done all of them. More than once. ), but there is not much you can do that is considered worse than playing the wrong ball. Just. Don’t. Do it.
The reason it is considered such bad form to play the wrong ball is that it is so easily avoided. All you have to do is mark your balls. Then you will always be sure the ball you are about to hit is really yours.
Most players develop their mark over a period of time. They may start out with something like their initials. Or their birthday. But then they begin to play with it and develop their own, unique, mark. Having your own mark is such a part of the game that Titleist made their famous ‘how do you mark your Titleist’ commercials. These consist of various pro golfers, men and women, describing their mark. Two dots here, a line and a dot there. A circle around a dot over the number, etc. Ordinary people might not have understood what the pros were talking about until the end of the commercial. But every Golfer knew exactly what they were saying. And of course the tag line at the end is: It’s not how you mark your ball, it’s how you mark your Titleist.
It used to be that marks were in black. Because that was the only color indelible ink pens came in. But now they come in an array of colors, which has really opened up the marking possibilities. Remember back here, #7 on this list? I wasn’t kidding about that. Sharpies are good for all kinds of things. Things that might dull their tip, or leave fuzz on it ( like writing his name in Golfing Offspring #3’s sweatshirts for instance ). Which means we do have a special set of Sharpies that is to be used ONLY for marking balls.
In addition to marking the ball, Golfers generally also add an ‘alignment line’. An alignment line is a straight line used for lining up puts. A Golfer will make sure the alignment line is pointing straight towards the middle of the hole when the ball is on the green. Depending on the break of the green he may not hit the ball straight towards the hole, but it helps line up the put to have a line down the middle of the ball lined up with the middle of the hole. Or so I’ve been told anyway. As per usual, the little tricks of good Golfers are somewhat lost on me.
For The Golfer ‘the marking of the balls’ is something of a ritual. He lines up his Sharpies( green in his case ). Takes out a box of balls( Titleist ProV 1x’s, if you’ll recall ). And opens up a sleeve. He very carefully puts two green dots around each number, adds the alignment line, puts that ball down, and picks up the next one. When that sleeve is done he moves onto the next one, until the entire box has been marked. It is NOT a good idea to disturb him when he is doing this. There is some kind of zen thing going on between him and the balls.
As for The Offspring and me. We generally just grab 6 or so balls from the big bag of found balls in the garage and mark them up right before we go play. Nothing zen about it. Overall we’re not too particular about the color of the Sharpie either. And for the record, mine is a shamrock. Or as close to a shamrock as my lousy drawing skills on a dimpled surface will allow me to get.
The difference in approaches may have something to do with overall number of balls used. The Golfer can afford to spend so much time with each ball, because chances are good he and that ball will spend a fair amount of time together. Probably several rounds. Whereas chances are good that any ball The Offspring or I start a round with, will not be the ball we finish the round with. It probably won’t even be the ball we finish the front 9 with. It’s hard to justify spending too much time bonding with something that is fickle enough to fly off and hide in the tall grass, or decide to go for a swim, after just a few holes.
And one more thing. About colored balls. Orange balls for winter play are a must. Other than that, stick to white. It may not seem like it, but any color other than white is very hard to follow in flight, and also very hard to see in the green grass once it lands. I know it might seem like it would be easy to spot a neon pink or yellow ball, but believe me, even neon pink is hard to spot in green grass. The only thing that really stands out from 100 yards away when you are looking for it, is white.