It just happened one day half way through the game; on the tenth tee. I hit the ball 60 degrees off the intended line. I thought my stance, swing, follow through, …the works––which I had perfected by playing regularly over a year––were just fine. It didn’t end there; it repeated with every shot thereafter. The error of 60 degrees was a constant. What was disheartening was the inconsistency of the direction, left or right, which made corrective action impossible. I took six strokes to make it to the green (par 4). With shattered confidence, I carefully aligned my ‘putting ball’ and struck. A seven-foot putt just made it to the hole; dead centre. The sound of the ball falling into the cup was music to the ears.
The story repeated on the eleventh, the twelfth and the thirteenth holes––dismal performance along the fairway. But the putts were face-saving. The stance I took to prevent the ball going off the fairway was funny and yet it did not work because I was inconsistent with the direction, left or right. Then there was an assault on my self-esteem as a golfer.
“Sir, I think you need to take a break of a few days and go to the range,” advised my caddie. I took a sip of water and swallowed it as I did the pearl of wisdom given by the caddie. My golfing world was coming crumbling down..
As I trudged to the fourteenth tee, I banged the palm of my left hand with the right fist with the ball in my hand. It was a desperate physical and psychological action to retrieve what ever remained of my confidence. That’s when I found something strange; something weird. I could feel and hear the ball rattling. I shook the ball close to my ear and I could hear the rattling more clearly.
“Eureka!” I was playing with an old golf ball. Its core had separated from its shell. And the shell was chipped too. Its dislocated centre of gravity and adversely affected aerodynamics were causing it to travel erratically through the air. Elementary Phisics!
I played the remaining game with my ‘Putting Ball’. I regained my form as instantly as I had lost it. That was the day I threw the idea of a ‘Putting Ball’ from my mind. I started playing with the best ball in my bag. Thanks to friends and dear ones abroad, my stock of new balls never depletes. Very soon I earned a handicap card of 14. Although modest by all standards, it was enviable handicap in that environment.
Lately, my passion for writing has made my visits to the golf course less frequent. I do hit a few balls across a football ground with a pitching wedge to retain my muscle memory. But when I do return to the course (once in a blue moon, though) I feel comfortable betting with friends who use a ‘Putting Ball’.
The probability of hitting the target is high when one uses the best arrow in one’s quiver.