TEEING UP THE TWO-PIECE - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
Publish date:


Greg Norman won the British Open using a type of ball most often
whacked around by duffers. It's what's known as a two-piece ball,
i.e., a ball with a molded center and plastic cover, and it has
traditionally been snubbed by touring pros in favor of a balata ball,
which has a liquid-filled rubber center wound tightly with a rubber
strand and covered with balata, a natural plastic. Norman, though,
thinks the two-piece -- his is made by Spalding and is called the
Tour Edition -- will someday make balata balls obsolete.
Away from the PGA Tour, about 70% of golfers use two-piece balls,
which first appeared on the market in 1968. Two-piecers are more
durable, fly off the club head at a higher angle and usually go
farther than balatas, but pros have never liked their feel: They
don't flatten against the club head as much (thus not allowing the
golfer to impart enough English) and are harder to control. The Tour
Edition, however, has a softer cover than most two-piecers and
according to Spalding (which is hoping the ball will make a dent in
the top end of the market, currently dominated by Acushnet, Wilson,
Dunlop and MacGregor) has been engineered to play just as a balata
ball does. Norman is a paid Spalding consultant but says, ''I
wouldn't use it if I didn't like it. The consistency is the key. I
have no fears that if I pull out a ball it's going to float in the
air and drop in the water. Or fly over the green into the back
bunker.'' That, of course, isn't a guarantee that comes with the