Does It Really Matter Which Golf Ball You Use – What Are The Different Types?
One of the best things in golf is taking a fresh golf ball out of the box and teeing it up. The ball is one of the most important things in your armoury as a golfer, as getting it into the hole in as little shots as possible is what matters.
The ball has come a long way even since the balatas of the 90s. There are more options than ever so today we are going to have a look at what’s important when choosing the ball you play.
Isn’t a Golf Ball just a Golf Ball? Does it really matter?
Well this attitude probably explains your high handicap. Golf is a difficult enough sport so why would you not take any advantage you can take? Choosing the best ball for your game can really help you.
From high spinning tour balls to those designed to go as far as possible, there is something out there that will help you. You just need to consider what it is that you want help with.
How do I know what ball is best for me?
The main things to consider are distance, spin control and price. The more spin control you want then the more you’re probably going to pay as you are moving up into premium golf ball territory. So considering your budget is the first thing to do.
Once you’ve done that, you will be able to find the best ball for what you need at that price. That’s when you can start thinking about distance and spin.
What’s the difference between hard and soft golf balls?
Have you ever done the bite test? I’ve had plenty of funny looks as I bite a golf ball to see how hard the cover is. Why do I do this?
Well the harder the ball is, the further it tends to go with less spin. They also tend to be a lot cheaper so if you lose balls regularly then these could be ideal for you. Soft balls stick to the grooves of your irons and wedges more so spin a lot more.
What difference does compression make?
This is a feature of golf balls that many don’t know about or consider. This is how much the ball will change shape at impact. This will affect the feel of the ball and how far it goes.
This is where your swing speed is important. The higher you swing a club, the higher the compression you need to get proper performance out of the ball. For slow swing speed golfers, there are some wonderful super-low compression balls out there now.
Soft Balls favour those with slower swing speeds
Since the soft golf balls compress more on impact and go further with a lower swing speed, they tend to favour those who are not swinging that fast and can offer extra distance and control to beginners, juniors, ladies, seniors and even some improvers and low handicappers. That is not to say that all beginners should use soft golf balls.
If you have a high swing speed, a high compression golf ball may suit you better. It is all about testing what works for you and sticking with it to improve your game.
Wound vs solid golf balls
Wound golf balls were as much of a technical leap for golf balls as a can opener was for the canned food industry. Wound cores provided balls with extra energy and so made them go much further than ever before. They are, however, rare these days.
They were replaced by solid multi-layered balls. Solid core balls took the principle of a wound ball and added far more energy storing ability and performance. These balls have been able to combine many materials to give distance plus spin as well as great feel. This is what the best and most expensive balls are like now.
How many layers do good and bad golf balls have?
Like Shrek, many golf balls now have a number of layers. As described above, manufacturers use these multi-material layers each provide some performance criteria to the ball. TaylorMade, with their TP5 and TP5x balls have loaded 5 separate layers into the ball.
They say that this gives the elite golfer everything that he or she needs to get round a course. This is a ball that many love so it seems they have something there. The top Titleist offerings, the Pro V1 and AVX have three layers while the Pro V1x has four.
More layers are only good if the material is good. Layers for no reason are a waste of time unless you’re planning on cutting the balls in half for a cool wall display.
Let’s talk dimples, what difference do they make?
This is one for the physicists out there. Dimples on a golf ball provide in-flight stability and allow the ball to travel around 30% further when compared to a smooth ball. The small pockets grab the air mid-flight and act like mini-wings to keep the ball afloat on a stable path as the ball spins through the air.
This has been an area of great innovation in recent times. Callaway tried hexagonal dimples for a while. Nike, with their RZN balls tried micro-dimples within the dimple which meant each ball had around 30,000 dimples! Bridgestone, on their current B330 line-up have a single dimple within some of their larger more flat dimples too, this ball has been a great success so they may be on to something.
The shape and size are important and so are the number and formation of the dimples. In the Titleist Pro V1 has 352 dimples whilst the Pro V1x has 328. Titleist also have a number of patents for the formation of the dimples on their balls, this is serious stuff!
What about low- and mid-spin golf balls?
There are two types of golfers who would want a low-spin or mid-spin ball. Many manufacturers now offer premium balls that spin less. These are for golfers who hit the ball very hard and generate excessive spin.
This kind of ball gives these players more control and helps them keep the ball flying a little lower. The Titleist AVX is an example of this and one that I started using last year for this reason, it is an incredible ball.
Another reason you may want to reduce your spin is if you just don’t hit it very far. If you want to get the most yardage for your swing then you want to reduce spin. Some of these balls will help you achieve that.
Do golf balls matter for high handicappers?
Yes! It’s as easy as that, find something within your budget that you like playing and get to know it. The most important thing though is to not let your ego get involved, don’t play a tour ball as this will just cost you extra money and actually may hinder your game.
The average handicap around the world is 17, this means that there is a huge market of ‘high handicap’ golfers for these brands to sell to. There are so many excellent golf balls out there that will truly help your game. Find the one you like best and stick with it.
Too many golfers just play whatever ball they find. This leads to inconsistency as, no matter your skill-level, different balls will act differently. Consistency is absolutely the most important thing in golf no matter how good you are. Sticking to one ball is that start of that process.
Golf balls for mid- to low-handicappers?
This is when you will want to spend some time and actually get fitted for a golf ball. This may sound crazy but going to an independent PGA pro and getting fitted for a ball is a very worthy investment of your time. You may love Titleist, TaylorMade or Srixon but when you get fitted you may find that Bridgestone have a ball that matches your game better.
This is a relatively new thing and I certainly benefitted greatly from it. I went to try some Titleist irons and it turned out on the day that I was using a ball that was very wrong. For years I have used the Pro V1x, turns out I spin the ball way too much for that and should be using the Titleist AVX. As soon as I took that ball on the course my height control was incredible and I had lost no spin control. Get fitted!
Golf balls for senior golfers, what’s best?
Time to generalise, senior golfers have slower swing speeds. Obviously this is not the case for every senior golfer compared to every younger player but go with me here please. This means that they will spin the ball less.
From everything above, you can probably work this out for yourself now but this means that they want a lower compression ball that spins more. One of the best low compression balls on the market is the Wilson Duo 3, this ball is the lowest compression available and is great value.
For seniors that are still players and looking to go low, Bridgestone have led the way in producing premium balls that spin more with lower swing speeds. The B330 XS is a great ball to keep the birdie rate high during the back-nine of your life.
What’s the difference between a good ball and a bad ball?
This is another simple answer because it is all about personal preference. A bad ball is one that doesn’t suit your game and a good one is one that does. Take time to try a few out from different brands and find what you like.
It’s time to stop just playing a ball because your favourite player uses it. I play Titleist but my favourite golfer, Tiger (of course), plays Bridgestone.
Why don’t I just steal range balls?
It never ceases to amaze me that people think they could play range balls on the golf course. These balls are designed to be battered constantly until they fall apart, there is no finesse about them. They also don’t perform like proper golf balls.
Many ranges use 80% or 90% balls that are designed to fly less distance due to constraints on the size of the driving range. Range balls are also notoriously inconsistent when it comes to distance. They fly at different lengths even when hit with a robot.
Range balls tend to fly directionally fine. They are perfect for working on shot shape control and strike but don’t use them on the course. If you’re a serious golfer, you should collect a bag of your older balls and make that your practice bag. This allows you to practice with the ball you actually play.
What about lake balls then? They seem like good value.
Yes, lake balls are a lot cheaper than their brand new equivalent but there’s a reason for this. A study done by Vice Golf showed that a golf ball in water for more than eight hours already started to lose some of its performance. Imagine that multiplied by however long some of these balls are bathing for!
You also get re-coated balls which can be cheaper. The coating on a golf ball is where the magic really happens, this is the interface between the club and the ball where the shot is imparted. A cheaper cover means poorer performance, don’t bother.
Should I stay loyal to my ball?
For a few weeks at least, yes. This is not a tour deal that means you have to stay with the golf ball you use until the contract runs out, but people can be very picky about their balls. I for one have been loyal to Titleist for many years and when I play something else it just doesn’t feel right.
Now after everything I have said in this article, I know that is contradictory, however, I just find them to be the best ball for me and I have been checked. The point here is that you should get fitted for a ball then use it for long enough to learn how it plays in various scenarios. Is it good in bad weather? How is it round the greens? Learn the ball then decide if you would like to try something different.
When should I retire a golf ball?
How many times has someone boasted to you that they have played a ball for four, five or more rounds without losing it? This I incredible as, especially with tour balls, you are just minimising the benefits that that ball will bring to your game. You need to switch your balls.
If you watch the top tours, golfers will change their ball on the next tee if they have hit a hard wedge on the hole before. Try it yourself, hit a hard wedge with a tour ball and you will see the mark on the cover where you hit it. This is because the ball literally sticks into the grooves of wedges to get the spin.
You may even have noticed some white cover inside your grooves after some shots. Now we can’t all change balls after every wedge, however, you probably shouldn’t use a ball more than one full round. This is especially the case during important events.
Harder balls made for distance are far more durable and you can get a few rounds out of them. Even with these balls though, when they look a bit tired then they probably are, get a new one.
What are the best golf balls for beginners?
It is at this time that the ball you choose matters least. Here you are really just looking for good value. The Srixon AD333 or Soft Feel are excellent options. They both feel great and won’t break the bank.
Get The Best Price On Srixon Here:
What are the best golf balls for improvers?
Now you are starting to get somewhere with your game. You want something durable but with some spin performance to help you around the greens. At this level, it is hard to beat the offerings from Vice. This German company have disrupted the golf ball market and the Vice Tour or Vice Pro Soft balls are unbelievable value.
Get The Best Price On Vice Golf Balls Here:
What are the best golf balls for pros?
Well with top pros usually they have a deal and are tied to one brand. They also have access to models that we mere mortals don’t get. However, if you look at the stats of non-signed pros as well as elite amateurs, the clear winner is the Titleist Pro V1. This ball has been at the top of the leaderboard for many many years and is the one that all other balls are measured against.
The Srixon Z-Star, the Bridgestone B330, the Callaway Chromesoft and the TaylorMade TP5 are all excellent options for those who want to try something different. Try a few rounds with each of these five balls and choose what works best for you.
Get The Best Price On Pro V1’s Here:
There is so much marketing surrounding golf balls that it is very easy to get caught up and seduced by something that won’t help your game. Finding the right ball for your game takes time and an open mind, it is not something to be rushed. If you want to have the best season of your life then use the early spring months to experiment with golf balls and find the right one.
You must use the expert help that your club pro can offer you, these guys and girls are always happy to help you with these decisions. Test, test, test the golf balls you fancy and stick with one. Consistency will bring improvements to your game and this is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a golfer.
Hi, I am Matthew, a mid handicap golfer who likes to play as much as possible. I love trying out new gear and this blog is where you can find all the gear I have tested over the years!