"The ball is the culprit"

CoreyPaavinwithUSBanktrophy.jpgThanks to reader John for spotting this Gary D'Amato column that I do believe, Wally, warrants a phone call to brother Fletcher to ask, "what gives?"

Then came titanium-headed drivers with lightweight graphite shafts and, most damaging to Pavin, golf balls that launched higher and spun less. Titleist stopped making its high-spin 384 ball after the 1995 season.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Pavin stopped winning.

"The ball is the culprit," he said. "The (new) balls don't spin as much, so therefore they won't curve as much. I had to try to adapt to that and I had a hard time adapting. I'm still working on it.

"Hitting the ball higher, which these balls allow you to do without them curving as much, is a lot of work for me. My bread and butter is a hard little fade and to put the ball up in the air and launch it is a scary thing for me. I'll be getting used to that the rest of my life, probably."

I do feel privileged to have been able to witness Pavin curving the ball around Riviera in the mid-90s.

Just when golfers such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson started mashing balls out of sight with the new equipment, Pavin went into a tailspin. Sure, he gained a few yards off the tee, but he's still 185th and last on the PGA Tour in average driving distance (257.7 yards) and the gap between him and the bombers has widened while his shot-making skills have been negated.

But look how the game has grown, how rounds bog down while people wait to drive short par-4s and how much money golf course contractors make changing designs!