Niagara Gazette — “Ken, you cited this rule for Eric Compton concerning the use an older golf ball. I have lots of golf balls in my bag! How do I know their age? Wouldn't an older ball be to Compton’s disadvantage? What is the purpose of this rule?”
-Marty Stevens, Niagara Falls
There is nothing in the Rules of Golf that prevents a golfer from switching to a different brand of golf ball (i.e., from a Titleist to a Bridgestone) at the beginning of each hole. The average player (you and I) can change ball models during play. However, there is something in the Rules of Golf that says a tournament committee can impose such a rule.
All PGA Tour events are played under that "one ball rule” (in the rulebook, it's in Appendix 1, Part C), so Compton was under obligation to follow it. The "one ball condition" requires the player to use the exact same brand and type of golf ball throughout the round.
This rule is in force for competitive purposes. The PGA feels that allowing players to switch golf balls during play could give a player an unfair advantage.
Golf balls, due to their construction, each possess their own uniqueness. As such, a player could choose a ball that flies high with the wind and one that flies low against the wind. In Eric Compton’s situation at Zurich, he had no advantage when he inadvertently used an older ball on one hole, but that’s not the point.
The point is that the one-ball rule was breached and Compton was honorable enough to call the penalty on himself. Got it?
Until next week, keep it in the fairway.Ken Ruggiero is a local golf instructor and has been writing this column for the past 28 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.