Free practice a perk for pros

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — There are fringe benefits to lengthy rain delays at golf tournaments. For instance, the chance to stroll the grounds and learn a thing or two about buckets of practice-range golf balls.

Here at Bethpage Black, it breaks down to not quite 12 cents a ball and you don't really realize much of a bargain if you go the bulk route.

A small bucket contains 51 balls and costs you $6. Want the large bucket? You get 68 balls, but you need to shell out $8. Now, 17 extra balls at 12 cents each is $2.04, so we're not quite sure where the incentive is there – unless it's to get 17 more swings and improve the game.

Anyway, it brought to mind one of the true indicators that today's PGA Tour member is living a far more comfortable life than his forefathers. Back in the pre-titanium days, if a PGA Tour pro wanted to warm up before a round, he didn't have some volunteer serve him up a few bags of brand-new golf balls, free of charge; no, sir, the player walked to the barn and shelled out his own money for range balls.

Imagine if that practice were still in place? You think Vijay Singh would be legendary for his practice-range habits? My vote is no.

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