One week after we discussed why golfers should stop playing with a myriad of golf balls and get fit for the best option, an expert attempted to shatter a tried-and-true blueprint with a wild suggestion. Instead of playing just one golf ball model for all 18 holes, it might be time to consider the idea of playing 3 to 5 different offerings to take advantage of course conditions, hole locations and wind direction.
Before you call shenanigans, it’s important to point out that Marty Jertson, Ping’s VP of fitting and performance, recently used this exact approach to win a tournament in Arizona — and he thinks it could help golfers crack the golf ball code.
On the latest episode of GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, Jertson discussed how the idea came about during U.S. Open local qualifying when he was informed the “one-ball rule” — whereby the player is required to play the same make and model for the entire round — was not in effect for the tournament.
“I did a triple take,” Jertson recalled on the podcast. “I’ve always wanted to switch balls during the round.”
Earlier this year at the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson took advantage of the rule and played different balls when the PGA of America chose to forego using the rule at Oak Hill. After learning about the recent change, Jertson called the tournament director for the Southwest PGA, who confirmed the section had, indeed, done away with the one-ball rule.
“My brain just started going crazy,” Jertson continued. “There’s definitely a reason to switch balls on different holes. In the testing we’ve done — which all drives Ballnamic — some balls go a little further and a little shorter on irons, which could be used to your advantage on par 3s. I’m still playing around with this.”
Thanks to Ping’s golf ball algorithm, called Ballnamic, Jertson had data that confirmed some golf balls flew 5-7 yards further than other models with just the irons.
“One of the challenges for me being a working player is that I’m not good at the tweener yardages,” he said. “It takes a lot of practice. I know the gaps are 13 yards between my irons, so if I’m right in between 6-iron and 7-iron, you can hit 7 with the ball that goes further or 6 with the ball that goes shorter — if the greens are not firm. If they are [firm], then you have to take that into account.”
To see if the idea had merit, Jertson played a tournament with different balls designed to provide performance benefits in specific conditions. For example, he played a ball that flew aerodynamically lower and went less offline into the wind and another that launched higher and spun more on downwind shots. He also assumed he’d be closer to the green with approaches — based on the course setup — so he added a third ball that spun more on wedge shots. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s three balls for one tournament.
Jertson wound up winning the tournament and is now considering expanding to upwards of 5 different balls, depending on the course and conditions. While 5 different balls might make most golfers internally combust, Jertson believes even recreational golfers could benefit from playing with two different balls.
“I think two would be reasonable,” Jertson said. “Like a downwind ball and into the wind ball. That would be the easiest way to go about it. I can use my Ballnamic data to get a little bit more into the weeds. The whole thing is to gain that little tiny edge. It’s important to stack those up.”
If you’re interested in trying out Jertson’s golf ball blueprint, consider starting with recent robotic testing data we released last week on GOLF.com to get a baseline for balls that launch and spin a certain way with the driver and wedge. From there, head over to Ballnamic and input your own stats, ball preferences and typical playing location to get a better idea of the different models that could be best suited for your home course.
Who knows, your game could be better off with multiple models in the bag.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.