Nano golf ball gets approval for tournament play

Attention duffers, you can now use a nanotechnology golf ball wherever you want.

Michael Kanellos
Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
2 min read
Golfers can now use a golf ball that flies straighter than normal golf balls, and they can do so without getting hauled in by the tournament cops.

The U.S. Golf Association has approved the NDMX golf ball from NanoDynamics for tournament play.

The ball sports an unusual hollow steel core and a special casing that allows the ball to correct its flight slightly so that it goes where the golfer intended it, rather than to the side. The chemical and physical properties of the materials used in the ball help it redistribute its weight on the fly.

Other companies are touting nanotechnology for lighter bike parts, stiffer tennis rackets and socks that don't stink.

The USGA has been cracking down on technological changes in golf, fearing that it could take some of the competitiveness out of the game, according to Keith Blakely, CEO of NanoDynamics. The USGA can't outlaw things like drivers that send the ball farther than normal, but it can withhold approval for tournament play. This potentially discourages use and sales.

The organization found, however, that the NDMX fell within its guidelines. Though it's hard to quantify how much the ball might assist someone's game, early tests show that it can help.

"It depends entirely on how good or bad the golfer is. If a recurring problem is either hooking or slicing the ball off the tee, the NDMX ball will make a significant difference according to many of our beta testers," Blakely wrote in an e-mail. "Similarly, the ball appears to offer an advantage on the putting green that just might make the difference between an 'almost' and an 'in the cup' putt."

The company started selling the ball late last year on its Web site. A dozen cost about $60.