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Then why bother to ban the ball? The answer, USGA officials say, is that the potential for unfair advantage was there and that in the course of enforcing equipment rules, the line has to be drawn somewhere. Manufacturers will naturally try to push rules to their very limits, but Titleist miscalculated and went a tad too far. "We tried to stay within the regulations as we saw them," says Bob Forbush, the firm's vice-president of sales and marketing. "It's as if we were going 56 in a 55-mph zone, and they had radar sensitive enough to pick it up."
Titleist, which sells 54 million golf balls a year and controls 40% of the world market, still has three USGA-approved, pro-quality balls available for sale, and it expects to have a modified version of the 384 ready for USGA inspection in September. In the meantime, the USGA's action gives a bit of a lift to the 384's competitors, including the 392-dimple Jack Nicklaus Muirfield, which is manufactured by MacGregor Golf Company, a firm owned by Nicklaus. A week before the USGA announced its ban, Nicklaus, who himself had played the 384 in four tournaments before the Muirfield 392 hit the market in June, told reporters that with the latter ball he was driving 20 to 25 yards farther than he had a few years ago, and that it may be time for the USGA to do something about the design one-upmanship that was resulting in balls playing too "hot" and carrying too far. When the 384 was banned the following week, Big Jack could scarcely complain. The next day, at the Buick Open, 13 players switched to the Nicklaus Muirfield, which may not play any faster or straighter than the 384, but so far has remained within the 55-mph limit.
HOOSIER MYSTERY (CONCLUDED)
ANOTHER SOUTHERN LEGEND
Jim O'Donnell, a Philadelphian who lives in Lusaka, Zambia, where he runs the African branch of Sobek Expeditions, purveyors of rafting trips down exotic rivers, is a dedicated sports fan who wears a Phillies cap when meeting visitors at the Lusaka airport and who spends much of his spare time trying to teach Zambian youngsters the intricacies of baseball and football. He hasn't made a great deal of progress so far. For example, he complains that would-be native baseball players insist on sliding into all the bases, including first, even on walks. But O'Donnell takes somewhat perverse pride in one thing he has accomplished. In congratulating one Zambian athlete on a rare good play, he instinctively gave him a high five. It caught on instantly, O'Donnell says, and "has now spread through the land."
O'Donnell now proudly refers to himself as "the father" of the high five in Africa. And he says, expansively, "I think I'll introduce them to spiking next."