The Leading Edge asked Golf Channel chief technical advisor Frank Thomas to expand on what Woods had to say, and to explain why the ball is traveling a lot straighter today.
'The modern golf ball has been designed to spin less than the old wound ball. This decreases the aerodynamic drag and thus increases the distance it can travel,' said Thomas. 'A ball which spins less will also have less lift, thus it must be launched higher than the old wound ball to optimize distance. This decrease in spin will not only affect the vertical lift force, but also the side spin component which causes a hook or a slice. In Tiger’s case, his controlled draws and fades will be a little more difficult to produce with a low spinning ball. This does not mean that the ball will not slice or hook, to which we can all attest. Even Tiger is not immune to the occasional wayward shot.
The bottom line is that the advantage the modern ball provides in decreased spin has the added advantage of being a little straighter and, as Tiger suggests, a little more difficult to work.'
Thomas doesn't believe the modern golf ball needs to be changed, as some, including Jack Nicklaus, have advocated. If anything needs tweaking on the professional level, it's the courses themselves.
'It is as good as it can be and certainly not more advantageous to the power players than to the average golfer,' said Thomas. 'As far as reigning in the golf ball is concerned, I believe the best solution is to shorten golf courses and with strategic course setups for major events, penalizing the long wayward drives.'
Thomas’ 'Let’s be Frank” column appears every week on GolfChannel.com. To submit a question to Frank, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.