Hanging around Indianwood Golf Club long after the rest of the press had gone home on the first practice day at the Senior US Open Championship in 2012, I spotted a caddie testing a green. The caddie picked a location, placed a level and made a note in his book. Next, he dropped several balls in the area and noted how they rolled. Once apparently satisfied that he had the sense of the spot, the caddie moved to another and repeated the procedure. Over and again, one green after another.
It was an aspect of golf that I had not seen before, so I followed him for several holes. I’m sure he thought I was stalking, but I was trying to make sure I understood exactly what he was doing. On each green, he tested several locations, but by no means the entire expanse, so he clearly had a sense of where his player would hit the ball, and of possible hole locations. I wish I had the nerve to ask to see the book. I could tell he was sketching, though. I imagine he was drawing directional arrows showing which way the ball would flow.
I am reminded of all this by a product I received lately for testing: the Levelhead.
The Levelhead is a ball marker—about the size of a poker chip ball marker—with a circular bubble level incorporated in the center. The idea is that the level will give you some intelligence regarding the way the ball will roll.
The Levelhead is a solidly built little gadget, and comes in a nice neoprene case with a ring for hanging it on your bag or a key ring. It has a very nice feel in the hand.
I think there are three problems:
First, it is almost certainly illegal under USGA rules. That perhaps is not an issue for weekenders, but if you’re recording scores for your handicap, it’s a no-no.
Second, I am not sure exactly how much intelligence one can glean from the tilt of the green at the point where the ball rests. I am always more concerned with how the ball will turn several feet away from impact. My feet tell me the slope of the ball on the green.
Finally, at around $20, I think it’s a it on the expensive side for what it does. You can certainly find pocket sized levels in a hardware store for less than half that price.