FORT MYERS, Fla. - Golfing is more than just a hobby in Southwest Florida. For thousands, it's a way of life.
But across the country, the number of new and returning golfers has declined in recent years.
Over the last year, an old golf ball has started making a new appearance among many first-timers and amateurs. The company behind the ball hopes by making the game a little easier, it will attract more players.
Polara Golf says its Ultimate Straight ball noticeably reduces hooks and slices, helping inexperienced golfers stay on the fairways. The ball is not approved by the USGA, meaning it cannot be used in competition. Professionals and other golf purists may frown on the ball, seeing it as little more than a novice's cheat toy.
But it works.
WINK News ordered several of the golf balls and hit the links with Southwest Florida's own "Golf Doctor," Mike Calbot.
"I saw it straighten out, for sure," Calbot said after attempting to intentially hook his shot. "I wish all my balls did that."
Polara credits the ball's self-correcting ability to its dimple pattern. Although the ball looks, feels, and weighs about the same as a standard ball, it's dimpled differently. The ball first appeared on the market in the 1970s, but faded out of popularity. More than 30 years later, it's back. And developers hope it makes a splash.
Polara says it's not trying to change the rules of the game, or take away from the skill required to play. A spokesperson says the ball is designed for the average weekend warrior, not the true professionals.
"As a company, we are focused on game improvement technologies that grow the game among recreational golfers," Polara sales director Chris Holiday told WINK News. "The Polara Ultimate Straight is designed for the non-tournament golfers who play for fun and enjoyment, newcomers to the game, and the 150 million plus former golfers around the world that quit the game in frustration."
Holiday says the ball's aim is to help new or returning players "increase their enjoyment, find more fairways off the tee, speed up play, increase their confidence and ultimately keep them in the game."
A dozen balls ordered direct from Polara cost us under $40, including shipping and handling. Polara's golf balls are available in a number of stores across the country, but none in Southwest Florida, according to the company website. You can read more about Polara here: http://polaragolf.com/