Shouldn’t You Change the Way You Mark Your Ball?

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Some people, when they’re having trouble with their golf game, take a lesson or even sign up for golf school, but others make a slight change in the way they mark their golf ball while also switching to a different color of Sharpie, the official ball-marking pen of the world of golf. At any rate, that’s what I did recently. And—who knows?—maybe my new ball-identification strategy will add thirty or forty yards to my tee shots. In the photo above, the ball on the left is marked with my old, discredited pattern and color, and the ball on the right is marked with my new. I made the change because Rick had suddenly begun marking his ball almost exactly the way I was accustomed to marking mine. Or maybe he’d always marked his ball that way and I’d only just noticed. Either way, I was ready for a change, and I was happy to have an excuse to order an entire box of red Sharpies:

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When most golfers mark their ball, they don’t mark it enough, in my opinion. Whatever technique you use, you should make sure you can identify your ball without touching it, no matter how it’s lying on the ground. I use eight widely spaced dots, and even when my ball is in the rough I can almost always see at least a couple of them. Too many players check their ball by picking it up, then putting it back down in an obviously better lie. Who do they think they are? Tom Brady?

Free Golf Balls! (For My Friends and Me)

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At a rich-guy club several years ago, I stopped by the golf shop to buy Pro V1s, and when the assistant behind the counter told me how much they were I said, “Oh, no, just a sleeve,” but—ha-ha!—the joke was on me. I bought them anyway, because I didn’t want some kid to think I couldn’t afford fifteen dollars apiece for golf balls. During my round, though, I played away from trouble, and I never went for anything in two. And when I got home I moved three slightly beaten-up Pro V1s from my shag bag to my golf bag, because by doing that, I figured, I was cutting my average cost in half.

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Recently, my friends and I have been using significantly less expensive balls, called Vice Pro. They were sent to us by Vice Golf, a German company, whose founders are shown in the photo above.

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The company has just started selling in the United States, and it’s eager to receive the tsunami-like marketing boost that follows any association with the Sunday Morning Group. Vice is the official ball of the German Golf Association, and Vice Pro won a gold rating in Golf Digest’s 2015 Hot List, and Titleist has endorsed the design, in a way, by suing the company (and several others) for copying the Pro V1’s patented dimple pattern.

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One of the many lawyers in SMG worked for Callaway during its (successful) lawsuit against Titleist over something similar, and the lawsuit took forever so I know from experience that we won’t have to send our balls back to Germany anytime soon. And that’s a good thing because everybody seems to like them—and not only because the ones we got have our (unpatented) logo on them. (Vice offers several personalization options.)

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Vice balls are sold only online. The ones we got were a great price (free); they’re more expensive if have to pay for them ($35 a dozen for the top-of-the-line Pro balls), but they’re still cheaper than the competition, and they’re even cheaper if you’re willing to order more than one dozen at a time. (If you buy five or more, the price drops to $25 a dozen.) The shipping cost ($7) is the same no matter how many you order—a further incentive to stock up. Tim has already re-ordered, and as soon as we’ve got some cash in our slush fund we’ll think about adding the Vice logo to our Jägermeister sweatshirts or our Famous Smoke Shop hats.

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