After a moment's silence, Anthony looked up and tried a weak grin.
Archie cuffed him playfully on the shoulder. "I'll tell you," he said, "you made the old man reach away down into his bag of tricks tonight."
Tony Anthony grinned again. "Man," he said, "I'd sure like to get in that bag, too."
WHITHER THE GOLF BALL?
For 71 years researchers at Arthur D. Little, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. have been specializing in the solution of abstruse technical problems, major and minor. They have, among other things, designed a solar furnace which generates temperatures of 3,500 Fahrenheit, produced special chemicals which enabled U.S. agents to outwit enemy bloodhounds in World War II, and developed chemical substitutes for chicken feathers. Now Little & Co. are at work on another: the U.S. Golf Association has asked them to develop a golf ball which would reduce—but not totally eliminate—the advantage long drivers currently have over the average hitter.
Golf, USGA officials reasoned, is primarily a game of skill, and the advantage now enjoyed by the power boys is simply too large. In addition, long hitting is forcing country clubs to lengthen their fairways, thus increasing the game's overhead.
Unlike the situation in baseball, however, it is impossible to blame golf's longer drives on a rabbit ball. Since 1898, when the "modern" Haskell ball came into play, only minor improvements have been made, and to avoid a technological race between manufacturers, as well as to keep the game standardized, the USGA as long ago as 1942 developed a machine to test the velocity of golf balls. The velocity must be between 245 and 255 feet a second, as determined by the machine, or the association won't approve it. Clearly, the credit—or blame—for long drives, lies with the players.
Now, the USGA cannot very well legislate against a man's driving power; hence the interest in the ball. The Arthur Little scientists looking into it are Drs. William Gordon and Henry Blau, and for some time now they have been busily taking and examining stroboscope pictures of drives hit by all sorts of golfers—long and short. In the process they have discovered some interesting things about the golf swing.
According to Blau, a 27-year-old nongolfing Ph.D. from Ohio State, "the ball's trajectory is fixed before the follow-through begins; so it doesn't have any influence on its flight." Its importance, he says, is in helping the golfer to groove his swing. And the swing's the thing. Long hitters like Billy Joe Patton, Blau concludes, don't impart some superstrength through their arms; they are merely extremely skillful at hitting the ball squarely.
Blau and Gordon have also verified one locker room superstition while exploding another. Getting plenty of backspin on a ball will give it an aerodynamic lift which results in greater distance. Talk about wrist motion imparting greater distance to a drive is just mythology. Even the whippiest set of wrists doesn't add significantly to the velocity of either club head or ball.