Mickelson's Comments on Golf Balls

Recently Phil posted comments on golf balls where he seemed to say that in liquid center balls that were used prior to ProV1 type balls that the center of the balls would spin at a different rate than the outside (cover). He says we should go back to that type of ball - take away the perimeter weighting.
Seems like he is confused but are there any golf ball executives who would comment on this?

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That comment raised my eye brows as well… I used to love the Maxfli revolution, but have no idea it’s spin profile… I’m not sure there are any still around that haven’t degraded significantly in quality.

From what I have read, the “ideal” golf ball would be a hollow sphere with all the weight on the perimiter, and I think modern ball design reflects that…

What impact liquid cores have on spin is probably a question for someone who has a phD in fluid dynamics. I don’t think Phil has finished that class yet.

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I was at Spalding for 15 years from 1984 to 2000. We were already making 2 piece balls. Eventually with the Strata we had a multi-layer ball. The Magna oversized ball had more weight on the perimeter but I don’t really think Phil’s comments are valid.

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Wait, what? So he’s saying the rest of the ball is rotating at, say 8,500 RPM, but the liquid in the core is rotating…slower? That the spin of the ball isn’t fully coupled to the liquid core? OK, so then what happens? At impact with the ground, the ball decelerates, but the core fluid continues rotating? Or provides some additional moment to the rest of the ball? Is there some precession effect that would happen then?

Just playing around with this in my head, it sounds like the liquid filled ball would be tougher to stop—the residual inertia of the core would want to keep spinning.

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Can you imagine what a liquid crystal filled core would be like under these circumstances? Imagine a core that:

  1. Only becomes liquid upon pressurization (ie., from the strike of a club head)
  2. remains liquid during high rotation
  3. recrystallizes upon “landing”

I don’t know what the possible benefits of such a golf ball would entail, but the buzzword bingo possibilities would have the heads in Marketing salivating in glee.

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I would put my money on Phil knowing exactly what he is talking about. IMO he’s talking about ELITE Golfers, with ELITE games. The golf ball, the equipment really does make a huge difference for those players…and don’t think those players know exactly how the ball and equipment will perform for them on 7500 yd long courses with 13 stimp greens. I mean here’s an FYI: as of today, there are like at least 50 different compliant versions out there of a ProV1. Which one are you playing right? I play the Callaway Supersoft…I’m a 9 that can get it going to maybe a 2 or 3 if the putts fall and if my tee shot spray i’m like a 15. Depends on the day. Right now, for like 98% of golfers in the WORLD that want to really improve your game…make a few more putts, improve your wedge game from 120 in AND improve your GIR by 2 a round consistently…I don’t think the golf ball manufacturer whether its a MaxFli or Srixon or whatever is making the difference in our games, a really low hdcp player the 3pc & 4 pc ball could make difference, for regular guys…I really don’t know…LOL Just my 2 cents

I think Phil knows what he’s talking about in terms of equipment, and he’s clearly a junkie who has spent a ton of time thinking about this stuff…

I don’t think he has a full understanding of fluid dynamics and the physics of what would go on inside a golf ball… I’m sure he’s played liquid core balls and seen how they react, so he might be right about HOW they perform… I have some doubts about his knowledge of WHY they perform like that…

We didn’t really fully understand ball flight laws until Trackman data came around… which would have been after the liquid core days. It’d be interesting to see the data from them.

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I don’t know the physics and I don’t think Phil does either, although he probably has a better understanding than I do, but for anyone what played with a liquid center ball they definitely curved more than the current ball does. Not that you can’t work the current ball however the old ones could get away a lot easier.

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Yeah, but modern balls have changed so much for a variety of reasons… Balatas and other balls also would work alot… modern balls are designed to not spin as much… then you get into the aerodynamics of the dimples, and spin has less of an impact (if you haven’t listened to Morty on Jon’s podcast, it’s an awesome discussion)

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I have about 3 dozen Tour 90’s and 100’s from back in the day and yeah…you could really maneuver them alot more than today’s ball.

Yeah, someone posted the packaging of a premium golf ball in the 90s and it talked about generating more spin with the driver for longer drives… it’s amazing how little we understood about ball flight until we got tools like Trackman.

The aerodynamics stuff is also super interesting.

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I will tell you this about the Balata’s…I cut one just to see what was in it because I had one that I cut really bad…you could really put smiley faces on them if you bladed one. And I also found that after about 2 rounds with the same ball if you didn’t lose one…They went out of round…looked “eggy”. Anyways it looked like worms…all rubber bands…with a squishy rubber center… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2pmab_sKJg

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That’s still probably better than peeling off a leathery skin and finding a wad of feathers.

Balata balls were tough to play with and that is why surlyn covers came about and balls became difficult to cut. But as always in golf the transition to new technology takes some time for adoption. Nice youtube.com on an old wound balata golf ball.

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This is super interesting, btw… do you follow modern ball design at all? Do you think there is a “better” cover out there than urethane to be discovered (or it’s just to expensive?)

I remember the Strata fondly!

It appears the companies are happy with urethane for covers now but the key companies are always looking for improved materials so who knows what will happen in the future.

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What would be the characteristics of an improved material, relative to urethane? Greater shear resistance/tensile strength? Higher coefficient of friction? Greater elasticity, for prolonging dwell time and better momentum transfer? Cheaper to apply? Etc…

Just curious what we’re looking for here.

Neat topic; I’m glad you started it.

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They would be looking for anything that improved performance. You sound like you are very knowledgeable on the types of materials they might be looking for. Remember that since all golf ball improvements are covered by patents that the golfing public will not get the full story due to the cover of patents.

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It’s not going to be patents that are the problem there, but trade secrets. The deal with patents is that you get exclusive rights to make, sell, or use the stated invention, but in return, you have to disclose enough about the invention such that a person of ordinary skill in the art described, could also practice the invention. Basically, tell what you know—which fosters innovation—and we’ll make sure no one else can use it for X time after the patent is granted. Cruising through public patent applications is just another database, along with scientific journals, dissertations, etc…for doing research.

OTOH, trade secrets—like the formula for Coca-Cola, famously—so long as you take reasonable measures to safeguard the secret, you can rely on trade secret protection indefinitely. Doesn’t stop anyone from independently discovering the secret though.

In practice, and I’m sure is the case here, such intellectual property is cross-licensed if need be.

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In the golf industry companies use patents to protect the R&D investment. They do not cross license as the market even worldwide can be supplied by one or two key golf ball suppliers. They go to court to protect these patents. Balls made by Titleist, Callaway, Srixon and Bridgestone are protected. The other balls are made by a few companies who make the same balls that are sold be other golf ball companies. There has not been any more conversation in the golf business regarding Phil’s comments. Imagine this is not put Phil in a bad light. The center of the ball does not spin at a significantly different rate as the cover. Never has.

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