Golf Ball Compression vs. Swing Speed
Do you know your swing speed? Thanks to most driving ranges having launch monitors, many golfers now know how fast they swing the club. What does this mean when you are looking at buying golf balls though?
Today on the blog we are looking at just that. How does the speed of your golf swing affect what kind of golf balls you should be buying? Read on to learn more and make better decisions when you’re in the pro shop.
Not Just The Colour Of The Number
You may have noticed that the numbers on golf balls tend to come in red or black, have you ever wondered what that means? It is significant and it is something that you should understand if you want to get the best performance from your balls.
You see back in the days of wound balls, the compressions was a really important feature of the ball and still is in modern composite balls. Black numbers tend to mean higher compression (best for hard hitters) and red numbers tend to mean lower (best for smooth hitters).
What Is Golf Ball Compression And What Are The Categories
So I’ve just thrown a bunch of stuff at you there, let’s dig into what it all means. In the days of wound balls it was how tight the threads inside the ball were wound but nowadays a good way to think of compression is how flexible the ball is at impact.
There are three categories of compression, low (the most flexible), medium and high (the least flexible). A junior or senior golfer would benefit from a low compression ball as they will get a nice return of energy into the ball. A high swing speed golfer will benefit more from high compression as they will gain accuracy.
How Does Swing Speed Affect The Compression You Should Play
If you swing the club in a smooth way and have a slower swing speed, then you will want your golf ball to help you with distance more. This is where lower compression works nicely, the ball is flexible and so can return as much energy as possible which translates to distance.
Fast swing speeds, over 105 mph with a driver, don’t need this energy return but they do need control. Using too low a compression will result in lost distance as the ball collapses too much at impact.
Swing Speed Vs Compression
MyGolfSpy have done extensive research into how compression can affect performance. Each year they look at the golf balls that are in the market and does a scientific study on their performance so that golfers get an idea what ball is best for them.
You can see here that there is a big difference between the compressions required for those with different swing speeds. If you know your swing speed you can work out your ball speed and it will help you the best ball for your game.
How Does Golf Ball Compression Impact Distance And Accuracy?
Golf ball compression is vital when it comes to distance, too soft or too hard and you will lose yardage. If you swing too soft for the golf ball you use, then the ball will barely compress and won’t go as far as it should. You can see an example of this in the image below.
This can also effect accuracy as a ball that is compressing too much will not fly as well as it should. However, using a ball that has too high compression means that it will go less distance and may actually give you more control. It is like driving on tyres that aren’t properly inflated, you will lose performance and golf balls are similar.
How Does Ball Compression Impact Feel?
Golf ball compression is essentially a measure of how elastic a golf ball is at impact. The lower the compression is, the more elastic the ball is and so it would be reasonable to think that would mean it would feel softer. Is it really that simple though?
This is a big factor of how a golf ball feels, it isn’t the full story though. The material of the cover can play a role in this, as can the material of the mantle layer or core. So whilst lower compression balls feel softer on average, there is more to it.
How Does It Impact Spin?
This is another factor that depends on the swing speed of the player using the ball. If you are using the correct ball then you should get the optimum back spin from that ball for your swing. A compression that is too high won’t optimally interact with the grooves of your clubs and that will reduce the spin imparted on the ball.
You also have to remember that the cover material and mantle material are very important in generating spin. Tour balls tend to come in 90 and 100 compression and getting this right can make a huge difference to the spin generated.
How Does Construction Of The Ball Affect Compression – One-Piece vs. Two-Piece vs. Three-Piece#
Golf ball manufacturers offer more choice than ever before and the amount of manufacturers is ever-growing too. Firstly, one-piece balls are only really range balls, they come in different compressions which translate to how far the ball goes. Low compression one-piece balls are great for driving ranges lacking space.
Two-piece and three-piece balls are available in high-, medium- and low-compression. Once you know your swing speed and what compression you need, you then need to look at your budget and decide what performance you want from your ball.
Does It Only Affect Drives Or All Shots Differently?
The clubs that would be most affected by the wrong compression would be your driver and your wedges. As I have mentioned above, the elasticity of the ball at impact can affect the ball speed and the spin imparted on it.
A ball that doesn’t spin is great for tee shots but not for wedge shots. If you are unable to hit a ball hard enough it will reduce the distance that you get from all clubs though so the wrong compression can give you issues right through the bag.
How Do I Choose The Right Ball? Should I Get A Ball Fitting?
As I write this, I have a ball fitting planned for this afternoon, yes it is very much something you should do. An expert can help you choose the best ball for your game based on how hard you hit and what benefits you would like your ball to bring to you.
Before you go, have an honest think about what you need from a ball. For me, I need something to fly lower and spin more around the greens. Maybe you need something that will fly further and roll out, dedicate time to consider this.
Is Clubhead Speed And Swing Speed The Same Thing?
Yes, clubhead speed and swing speed are the same thing, however ball speed is another factor that is hugely important and they are related. Have you heard of “smash factor”? This is the ball speed divide by swing speed and the most efficient players achieve something around 1.5 or more.
This is important as if you are striking the ball badly or you are using the wrong ball, you won’t be able to achieve this 1.5 number. You should work with a technician on a launch monitor to calculate your smash factor and see what could be causing any inefficiencies.
How Can I Calculate My Swing Speed?
The best and most accurate way to do this is to get yourself onto a launch monitor that can measure this. These instruments are designed to accurately gauge many aspects of what your club and ball are doing during the swing.
If you can’t do this or if you just want to get a quick idea, you can use this method here. In summary, you hit a few drivers and measure the distance it goes, take off 5% for roll then divide that distance by 1.75 to get a measurement for ball speed then divide that by 1.5 to get clubhead speed. Get your calculators out!
Best Golf Ball For 100mph Swing Speed
Titleist Pro V1
It is hard to bear the Titleist Pro V1, this ball travels far with a penetrating ball flight and sits quickly on the green. It is the most played golf ball in elite competition around the world and has been for decades now. This ball is the king of golf balls.
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Best Golf Ball For 90-95mph Swing Speed
Bridgestone B330 RXS
Bridgestone have a wonderful range of golf balls out there for many swing speeds. The B330 RXS is a tour standard golf ball for those with a slightly lower clubhead speed. It is soft and it spins really well thanks to the excellent cover on the ball.
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Best Golf Ball For 80-90mph Swing Speed
Snell MTB Black
You may not know this, but some of the best golf balls of modern times were developed under the watch of Dean Snell. He invented the Pro V1 and so has some serious credentials in the golf balls world. He now has his own company and the Snell MTB Black is a great ball for this speed range.
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Best Golf Ball For 70-80mph Swing Speed
Wilson Duo Soft
Anyone who has read any of my previous golf ball articles will know I always talk about this ball, it is the lowest compression on the market and it feels fantastic to hit! For anyone with swing speeds in this range, the Wilson Duo Soft can be a game changer. This will give you distance and spin that you never knew was possible.
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Do lower compression balls go further?
This all depends on swing speed. The harder you hit it, the higher the compression you tend to need, not always but just generally. Eventually compression becomes way too low, think of driving on a flat car tyre.
Should beginners use soft balls?
No, I would say that beginners should pick a ball they can afford and try to stick with it. Play something you like and develop your skills with it. Once you get more consistent then you can start looking at what ball is right for your game.
What’s the best compression for seniors?
Seniors tend to swing it slower so a lower compression will suit best. Not all seniors are equal though so it is worth having a ball fitting session. The blanket answer to this one is lower than they used to play back in the day.
What about ladies?
You can’t blanket a whole group with one compression. Some women like Troy Mullins and Sandra Carlborg swing it hard, some don’t. Get yourself a fitting and let the experts tell you what is best for your swing.
Juniors are a trickier bunch because as they grow and get better, their swing speed will change fairly rapidly. It is probably worth having a ball fitting every couple of years to see what is best. Or, like me, play with whatever you find out on the course.
Golf balls are seen by many as just a part of the game, they don’t make that much difference so just play what you find. Whilst I may have done that back in the day when I was a young junior, I have learned that playing the right golf ball can make a huge difference to you game. It really is worth discussing with an expert what you want from your golf balls.
Golf ball fittings have become increasingly common and are definitely something worth doing for all regular golfers. With so many options on the market now, it is important that you are playing a ball that can help you most. The ball is the only thing in your bag that you play on every single shot, if you have custom fit clubs, why would you not take time to pick the correct ball?
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!