Ball Talking: Does It Ever Listen?

Clint Eastwood talked to a chair.
Joaquin Phoenix fell in love with his phone in a movie.
I talk to our dog.
What’s so crazy about talking to a golf ball? It’s the universal language of golf, our own version of lip service. When I say Hal Sutton, what comes to mind (and don’t say pairing Tiger and Phil at the Ryder Cup)?
“Be the right club today.” It might be written on his tombstone. Talking to your golf ball is honest, sad, angry, pleading, hopeful, humorous, occasionally profane and absolutely normal. We say things to golf balls we wouldn’t say to anyone except, perhaps, our dentist, things such as “Stop … now” or “Be nice, please” or “Don’t even think about it.” The fact that it’s an inanimate object doesn’t matter. We’ll still go Joan Rivers on it if it doesn’t behave. Aging stars are fond of saying that golf balls don’t know how old they are. True. Golf balls also can’t hear a word any of us are saying unless Titleist has developed technology it hasn’t told us about. That doesn’t stop the conversation. And it’s everyone – even Tour players – who can make a single shot sound like a roundtable discussion on The View. “We talk to the ball in two or three ways,” says Ben Crane, who as a video producer understands the value of the spoken word. “One is we kinda know what the ball is going to do so, ‘Be good, baby,’ we’re kinda just affirming it was a really good shot. Then there’s the time where you’re like, ‘Catch that slope and roll down.’ You really don’t know what’s going to happen. And then there’s that time when you’re begging. The ball is heading to a 50-50 place and you beg, ‘Please stay up.’ “
Begging. That’s what it is. Like my dog at dinnertime, minus the whimper. Most of the time.


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