Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 18:42 Tuesday, 03 January 2017 18:29
KAPALUA, Hawaii (Doug Ferguson/AP) — Bubba Watson gazed toward the blue Pacific on the first tee at Kapalua and unleashed a big drive with his pink golf ball.
Next up likely will be a lime green ball.
The two-time Masters champion is even thinking of a two-tone ball.
“If we’re going to challenge ourselves, let’s challenge ourselves to make something that’s really off the wall, that’s still playable,” Watson said. “Companies I want to be with are ones that let me have an influence and let me in on the decision-making.”
That company is South Korea-based Volvik, with whom Watson signed a multiyear deal. The Volvik ball mainly has been used on the LPGA Tour in recent years, and Watson represents its first big player on the PGA Tour.
Watson said he initiated the interest after watching the World Long Drive Championship in which the finalists used colored Volvik balls. He previously heard about it from Craig Stadler during the Champions Dinner at the Masters.
“They used a pink one and they used an orange one,” Watson said. “I was watching this, and I’d never looked at the company. So I Googled the website, I looked at it, and read about. It’s a small company. You can’t just come out here and just start boasting and spending advertising dollars and things, because you’ll hurt your company real fast. ... They’re doing things differently, and that’s how I noticed them.”
Watson said it wasn’t long after the Long Drive that he acquired some Volvik golf balls to give him a try. He also asked his caddie, Ted Scott, to experiment with them. He tried the S3 model — “it was pretty cool to watch it fly,” he said — and eventually settled on the S4.
Watson also will use a white ball, which Volvik calls the “Blue Pearl” because it has a hint of blue when slightly rotated. Early reports out of South Korea said that Watson wanted to play a green ball at the Masters, which is not entirely true.
“It’s not the same green,” he said.
Watson has always been about color, even the year he wore all white the first time he won the Masters. He had Ping make a hot pink shaft for his driver, and then the club head in pink, which he used to raise money for charity.
He thinks colored golf balls, which haven’t been in style on the PGA Tour in 30 years, could help in other ways.
“You talk about growing the game, why would you not want people to have more fun, make the game more fun, interesting and creative?” Watson said. “Same thing that Ping let me do with a pink driver.”
Watson said he wants to talk to the USGA about using a different colored ball on different holes, though that would be unlikely. The USGA has a “Conforming Golf Ball List” in which each ball is listed separately, sometimes based on the markings. Carter Rich, the USGA’s director of equipment rules and conformance, said each ball color would be a separate listing. As long as the PGA Tour adopts the “One Ball Condition,” Watson would have to stick with the same color for an entire round.