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Home New or gently used, does it make a difference with golf balls?

Players competing in this week’s Open Championship are expected to use around 2,270 golf balls between them (at least five balls each per round), many amateur golfers in the UK are just the opposite as they still aim to finish 18 holes with the same ball. One in four even see it as a great achievement if they do, according to new research by Sports Marketing Surveys, commissioned by Bridgestone Golf for its Modern Golf Ball Report 2012.

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A significant number of regular club players (42%) in the U.K., claim to use just 1.7 balls during an average round, while nearly half (46%) believe the figure is no more than two. In contrast more than eight out of ten golfers with 21+ handicaps say they only ever use one or two balls per round, yet carry nine balls in the bag. The research found that at least one in three of all golfers confess that they usually play the same ball until they lose it. Amateur players in the U.K. (and perhaps elsewhere)

seeing no correlation between low scoring and using new balls during a round such as the professionals do. Most optimistic amateurs believe the same ball should last them 34 holes, according to the research, assuming it’s not lost. Even if they find a ball, the vast majority (84%) would continue playing their current ball.

In contrast, the average number of golf balls used by Bridgestone Golf Tour players is five or more each round. Former Open champion Nick Price uses up to nine balls in a round if he plays a lot of wedge shots. Others will play a new ball at each par-5 hole and some will use as many as 15 balls during a round, with most being handed to youngsters out on the course to keep as souvenirs. Bridgestone Golf Tour player and US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III uses an average of between five and seven balls each round to improve his chances of shooting a low score, having taken out nine in the bag at the start of the round.

The research, conducted amongst regular club golfers in the U.K., revealed there are some signs of accomplished players appreciating the benefits of using a new ball on the back nine holes. Almost half of all club golfers (47%) or private members as referred to in the U.S., say they would consider changing their ball after nine holes, although high handicap players are unlikely to do so (39%). More than half of those golfers unwilling to consider changing their ball during a round (52%), say they thought it would not help to improve their score, while one in six say they can’t afford to replace a ball with a new one during a round. However, over half of these players will take a new ball if they find a cut or mark on the original during a round. According to the research, a little more than one in five (23%) will replace the old ball and use a new one automatically for their next round.

When it comes to choosing a golf ball, almost one in five high handicap players and more than a quarter of Category 3 golfer (13-10 handicap) think that a ‘premium soft ball’ is ideally suited to their game, despite it being designed expressly for elite Tour players, according to the research. Premium balls are more popular with men than women (42% against 27%), while mid-range distance and spin balls are seen as the best option for both male and female players (54% and 71% respectively).