April - 2010
Darn. I'm getting older. And quickly it seems...
I have a collection of golf balls from years past, and oddly, each one has a history that sparks a memory. But one in particular is unique - (that's the old part, how could it be my possession for thirty years!)
The reason this single ball is different is because it's a "British Open ball" or also called a "small ball". This ball was noticeably different than the balls used today.
The British ball weighed the same as the ball we all use now but differed in it's size. The British ball had a diameter of 1.62 inches, compared to the USGA minimum of 1.68 inches.
This ball was called a British ball because American golfers and fans typically encountered the ball during the British Open Championship, which was played under the rules for the Royal and Ancient, or the R&A.
The R&A approved the "small ball" when it first appeared, but in the early 1930's the United States Golf Association ruled against using this ball for competition under it's auspices.
When American golfers played overseas, they almost all switched and used this ball because of it's ability to be more workable in the wind and also because the British balls smaller size made it much longer than the American version.
Because of a desire to standardize the Rules of Golf, in 1974 the R&A decided to outlaw the playing of this ball in the British Open. But, it wasn't until 1990 that the R&A adopted the 1.68 minimum diameter rule for all it's competitions. Today this size is the standard around the world. The USGA has outlined under the Appendix section of its Rule Book, the requirements for a ball to be considered legal for play during competition.
APPENDIX III - THE BALL
4. Spherical Symmetry
5. Initial Velocity
6. Overall Distance Standard