The golf ball is often an overlooked part of a golfer’s bag. Many players fluctuate which ball they are using shot to shot. While it may be true that your game is not as consistent as touring professionals, your game can improve by playing the same golf ball round after round, shot after shot. Variations in golf balls can result in distance gains or lose, higher or lower spin, and different greenside performances on chip and pitch shots. The starkest difference can come from the feedback on the greens with your putter. Changing the feel of your golf ball can have a massive impact on putting distance control and performance.
Are you good enough to play the same golf ball every round? The answer is, no one is good enough not to. No matter what your budget is, there is a golf ball for your game. While it may be true that the best performing golf balls are often the most expensive, each brand makes a golf ball that is affordable and can offer similar performance benefits. By choosing to play a cheaper golf ball that you can afford to buy round after round you can shave strokes from your handicap and begin to develop a more consistent golf game. This guide will take you through the different aspects that make golf balls play differently under different conditions and which models are best for you.
Top 6 Best Golf Balls for 2019
Why it is Important to Find the Right Golf Ball for You?
Different swing speeds and characteristics will affect the golf ball in various ways. Because of this, what golf ball is right for you may not be the same as your playing partners or the players on television. It is important to remember that fitting a golf ball based only on your swing speed is difficult. Over the course of a round you will have many swing speeds, your driver and sand wedge will impact the golf ball differently and it is vital that you get a ball that gives you the best performance for your entire set.
How to Choose the Right Golf Ball Within Your Budget
How often you buy golf balls and how long each ball is lasting you can be the largest determining factor for which ball to play. Players that often see their ball last only 1 or 2 holes before it disappears may opt to spend less on their golf ball stocks. Players that play one ball for the entire round or across multiple days may be able to justify paying for the top performing ball. Adjusting your golf ball choice for your budget is crucial to ensure that you are playing the same ball every time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Golf Balls?
What is the Diameter of a Golf Ball?
The regulations put forth by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the R&A mandate that each conforming golf ball be “spherical in shape and no less than 1.68-inches (42.7mm) in diameter.”
How Much Does a Golf Ball Weigh?
The official mass of each golf ball can be no more than 1.620 ounces or 45.93 grams. Golf balls that fall outside of these weight designations can obtain artificial advantages in the wind or at various ground conditions. Playing standards dictate that each golf ball produced has a weight of near 1.620 ounces without much variation.
What Do the Dimples on a Golf Ball Do?
Dimple patterns can drastically change the way moving objects react when flying through the air. A ball that is smooth flies on a linear trajectory and can be driven offline by winds. The dimples help the golf ball to rise as the golf ball spins backward and helps the ball fly longer by reducing the amount of air resistance, or drag, the ball experiences. Most importantly, understand that the dimple patterns are meticulously researched to offer you a golf ball that spins the right amount when struck with each golf club in the bag. Manufacturers must balance high launching, low spinning drives, and lower launching, higher spinning wedges all with the same materials.
How Many Dimples are on a Golf Ball?
Dimple number is not regulated as tightly as other parameters of the golf ball. These less strict regulations allow for variations in manufacturer techniques and dimple applications. Most golf balls have dimples of uniform size but may vary in the number of dimples around each ball or the size of each dimple. Consensus between 300 and 500 dimples is common in most mass-produced golf balls and the majority will have around 400 dimples.
What Do the Numbers on Golf Balls Mean?
The numbers on golf ball help players to identify which ball is theirs. Players often order their golf balls with all the same number and can often use these numbers for self-expression. Rory Mcilroy has recently changed the number of golf ball he plays and the new 22 reflects the date of his recent marriage. While the number has no impact on the golf ball’s performance, it offers a unique opportunity for golfers to have something that is specifically theirs.
Stock golf balls are often sold in either low-number or high-number packages. These common packages will both feature a single-digit numbering system that using 1 through 9 with 1 through 4 being the most recognized.
Although it is rarer, golf balls can be marked with two-digit numbers as in the example with Rory. Traditionally, these numbers have been used to mark the compression factor of the golf ball. However, most balls marked today are simply done as identification. Importantly, there are still a few manufacturers that highlight this compression rating, expressed as a double-digit number, which can range from the low 30s all the way up to the high 90s.
The rarest golf balls may be marked with a three-digit pattern. This number typically identifies the number of dimples used across the golf ball and will likely fall between 300 and 500. Using these numbers is often an advertisement made by the manufactures to promote their dimple designs or patterns.
What’s Inside of a Golf Ball?
Golf Ball Core
The core components of the golf ball are what will influence the ball’s individual playing characteristics. Upon opening a golf ball, you may find two, three, four, or even five distinct layers that help give the golf ball diversity under different playing conditions. The innermost layer is referred to as the core of the golf ball. Historically, the core of golf balls was made out of tightly wound rubber bands. The modern golf ball is comprised of various rubber and synthetic resins that help the golf ball to perform better around the greens and in the wind.
Golf Ball Cover
Surlyn and balata combine to make up the majority of golf ball covers. The cover of the golf ball will house the dimple pattern and give the ball its aerodynamic properties during its flight. The cover will also influence the balls firm or soft feel, and give it durability properties.
Surlyn is a hard resin material that is used to cover many of the flagship golf balls in play. This harder resin cover still gives golfers a premium soft feel with excellent control. This coupled performance makes the surlyn covered golf balls perfect for beginning golfers and players with higher handicaps that want great performance at cheaper prices.
Balata material was made famous in the Titleist Balata ball that was revolutionary in its introduction. The Balata made Titleist the number one golf ball of choice by professional and amateur golfers. Other manufacturers now make high-performance golf balls with balata covers. These balls offer golfers maximum performance but will hold the highest prices. Players that use a golf ball through several holes or across several days can afford the premium prices for these golf balls.
The Different Types of Golf Balls
Golf balls are often categorized based on the number of layers they include. One, two, three, four, and five layer golf balls are all manufactured at different price points and with different playing profiles. by understanding what you are getting as you buy different style golf balls it will help you to understand the performance characteristics you should expect.
One-Piece Golf Balls
One-piece golf balls present players with a very in feel from very firm to surprisingly soft when struck. These balls are primarily used on driving ranges and offer the longest-lasting durability. One-piece golf balls combine their solid Surlyn core with a dense cover that offers minimal performance in a cost-saving, tough package. One-piece golf balls will offer less distance and more pronounced curvature in the wind and are seldom used by players during their golf rounds.
Two-Piece Golf Balls
Two-piece golf balls will be the most common around golf clubs and in the bags of amateur golfers. These golf balls offer players better performances at relatively low prices. Two-piece golf balls are constructed with a single solid core, usually made of a high-energy acrylate or resin and is covered by a durable, cut-proof blended cover. The cover is typically comprised of mostly Surlyn, a specialty plastic, or similar material. It is this cover, combined with the solid core, which gives two-piece golf balls more distance and rollout than other types of golf balls.
Three-Piece Golf Balls
Three piece golf balls offer players more diverse performance and would be our recommendation for most golfers. By paying slightly more, the engineering advantages of golf balls within this group will give weekend and amateur golfers the most performance for their money. The three layers consist of a solid rubber core or liquid core, an enhanced layer surrounding the core, and a molded cover made from tough Surlyn, urethane, or balata-like material. Three-piece golf balls offer more control than two-piece balls and offer more spin separation when they are struck with different clubs throughout your bag.
Four-Piece Golf Balls
Four-piece golf balls are the most common makeup of lower-spinning premium golf ball offerings like the ProV1x. The four layers within these golf balls each serve to give the ball different playing characteristics and give better players the versatility they like to see in high-performance golf balls. These golf balls offer exceptional distance, great performance in the wind, and consistent spin rates from shot-to-shot.
The inner core of the 4 piece golf ball is comprised of solid and durable rubber, designed to provide explosive distance off the driver, fairways, and long irons. The second and third layers provide diversity for these golf balls that allow them to launch lower and spin more when hitting wedge shots around the greens. The outer cover of the golf ball is what provides the golf ball with its sound and feel characteristics. Soft, premium urethane helps make these golf balls feel great on the greens and long-lasting through several holes.
Five-Piece Golf Balls
The five-piece golf ball is the newest category in golf ball design. Made most popular by TaylorMade’s TP5x, the incorporation of a fifth layer is causing players like Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler to make the “5witch.” Similar to a three-piece or four-piece ball these golf balls offer maximum performance but come with an expensive price tag.
Five-piece golf balls are manufactured with three mantle layers between the high-speed core and urethane covers. Each of these layers is designed to react to different shots and swing speeds to produce the most specific performance possible; high launch, low spin drives with low launch, high spin wedges with outstanding feel and sound.
What is Golf Ball Spin
Golf balls spin in three-dimensions. This spin results in differences in launch angles, carry and total distance, and shot curvature to the right and left. Each shot as it is hit creates backspin and side-spin that will dictate how the golf ball flies through the air. Low-spin, mid-spin, and high-spin golf balls combine different materials to help give players exactly what they are looking for. Which type is best for you will depend on your swing characteristics and how much you are willing to spend. Let’s take a look at each sub-type to help your search:
Low Spin Golf Balls
Each club in your bag will have a backspin rate that gives you the proper flight and distance performance. Low spin golf balls can be great for players that struggle with excessive spin from the tee box. Players that struggle with shots that curve violently away from their starting lines with a slice may find that a lower spin golf ball can help them reduce this curve slightly. Lower spin golf balls can also roll further once they have landed on the ground due to the decreased backspin. Players that are finding their irons, or even driver is stopped next to their pitch marks may benefit from lower spinning golf balls.
Mid Spin Golf Balls
Mid-spin golf balls offer golfers a nice balance of higher spin, more control, and lower spin, more distance. Getting a golf ball that spins the right amount for each club in your bag is difficult but mid-spin options help golfers to control their spin rates without the excessive need for great swings every time. These golf balls can offer the best performance for their price for many players.
High Spin Golf Balls
High spin golf balls can help players will slower swing speeds improve their golf ball launch and distance numbers. By adding spin to the golf ball, shots may fly in the air longer and help golfers clear water hazards or slopes on the front of greens. Certain situations around the golf course can remove spin from your shots and playing a higher spinning golf ball can help you hold greens and maintain a straighter ball flight. Players fighting a hook can also benefit from gaining more backspin. As the club face is closed, the loft is removed from the golf club and golf ball spin will decrease. Higher spin golf balls for players that miss with overdraws can mean more balls in play and better scores.
What is Golf Ball Compression?
When you strike a golf ball it deforms slightly. The compression factor is a product of how quickly to golf ball returns to its original shape. These difference in compression factor can help the golf ball to perform in different ways for different golfers. Many manufacturers will list the compression of their golf balls on the package. This measurement is typically a number between 0 and 200, and it is rare that you will find golf balls with a compression factor as high or low as these two extremes. As the compression factor increases, the deformity level of the ball at impact decrease. That means that a golf ball with a 200 level compression will deform much less than a golf ball with level 0. The majority of golf balls have a compression somewhere between 50 and 100.
Types of Golf Ball Compression?
Like spin, compression is divided into three categories. High, medium, and low compression ball all exist to help golfers find the optimal performance for their games.
High Compression Golf Balls
- High compression golf balls are often marketed to higher swing speed players. These golf balls promise more distance for players that swing above 105 miles per hour with their driver. Higher swing speeds can lead to larger impact forces and higher compression golf balls can retain that energy more efficiently and lead to longer golf shots. Golf balls with a compression rate of 90 and beyond are classified into the high compression category.
Medium Compression Golf Balls
- Medium compression golf balls can be great for players that swing closer to the average driver club head speeds. These golf balls combine distance and control and are best for the widest range of players and handicaps. Medium compression balls are recommended for players with a driver swing speed of 85 to 105 miles per hour. Medium compression golf balls fall between 80 and 89 for their compression ratings.
Low Compression Golf Balls
- Low compression golf balls offer slower swing speed players a chance to gain performance on the tee box and from the fairways. Players with a driver swing speed below 85 miles per hour often prefer the feel of lower compression golf balls. Beginners, juniors, and senior golfers may benefit from a low compression golf ball. These golf balls have a compression rating anywhere below 80.
Types of Golf Balls
Golf balls are often grouped based on their performance or feel characteristics. The following divisions of golf balls are terms that you will commonly find in pro shops or online websites when researching golf balls.
Tour-Level Golf Balls
Branded for their performance benefits, tour-level golf balls will give most golfer their best performance. While it may be the case that we should all be playing these golf balls, the high prices of these premium offerings can deter players that frequently lose their golf balls. Golf balls in this category offer the very best in feel and control. These balls are three, four, or five piece designs that offer great performance for every club in the bag. Exceptional distance control, consistent spin rates, and a luxurious feel are common among all tour-level golf balls. Price and durability can be the pitfalls of playing these thinner covered balls.
Distance Golf Balls
Distance golf balls offer players a significant price break for players that lose their ball often or budget-conscious golfers. Players looking to enjoy themselves without much thought to their score and performance can leave themselves less stress if they can find their golf ball after impact. Distance balls can also add performance benefits by reducing spin that can diminish slices or shots that fade heavily away from the target.
Softness and Feel Golf Balls
Golfers often associate softer golf balls with better feel and enjoyment from every club. Lower compression golf balls can feel softer due to their increased deformity. Slower swing speed players may find that they enjoy the sound and performance of softer golf balls. Lower compression can ultimately lead to longer, straighter shots and more fell around the greens.
Top 10 Best Golf Balls
Titleist Pro V1 Golf Balls
Consistently the number one golf ball played around the World and on major golfing tours, the Titleist ProV1 is the flagship golf ball in today’s market. Benefiting players with low long game spin, drop-and-stop short game control, and a very soft feel, the ProV1 offers maximum performance. For players that can afford to pay top dollar for their golf balls, many will find the ProV1 offers complete bag coverage and exceptional shot making ability from everywhere on the course.
Callaway Chrome Soft X Golf Balls
The Callaway Chromesoft golf balls are the only balls in production with a graphene-infused dual soft fast core. Graphene is one of the strongest strength to weight ratio materials in the world and Callaway is the first to incorporate it into their golf balls. Beyond the core, the Chromesoft offers players high launch and low spin from the driver and maximum spin around the greens. The Tour Urethane Cover helps Chromesoft to be one of the softest feeling golf balls. Players looking for a great performing golf ball with an ultra-soft feel will love the Chromesoft from Callaway.
TaylorMade TP5x Golf Balls
The TP5x golf ball has put TaylorMade on the map in the golf ball categories. The first premium golf ball to add an additional layer to maximize performance, the TP5x is the new ball of choice for some of the game’s best players included long-time ProV1x user Rickie Fowler. TaylorMade is promising the fastest ball speeds and optimized spin over ever other golf ball in the market and if you are a player who needs more distance but cannot give up the greenside control of tour-level golf balls then the TP5x is for you.
Srixon Z Star XV Golf Balls
Srixon can be a lesser known name in the American golfing market but offers exceptional performance and feel in their premium golf ball. The Z Star XV combines a Fast Layer Core and Spin Skin to give golfers more distance off the tee and more control with their irons and wedges. 338 dimples are used to ensure that the Z Star will not be blown offline by crosswinds. Players that play in windy conditions may find performance benefits by switching to the Z Star XV.
Bridgestone Tour RXS Golf Balls
An industry leader in golf ball research and design, Bridgestone is the golf ball of choice for Tiger Woods. The Tour B RXS helps elite players and amateurs get more control over their shots and helps build confidence. Bridgestone boasts their aerodynamic cover to help give golfers longer shots with their drivers, fairway woods, and long irons and their proprietary core to help wedges stop quickly. For players that have never tried a Bridgestone golf ball, the Tour RXS is an introduction to enhanced control and premium soft feel.
Vice Plus Golf Balls
The Vice Plus offers cost-saving advantages with similar performance as other tour-level golf balls. By selling golf balls directly to consumers, Vice has cut out the need to raise their prices. Offering the only tour-level golf ball for less than $30 makes the Vice Plus ball great for any player looking to save a little money but give up nothing in their golf game.
Titleist AVX Golf Balls
The newest offering from Titleist is a golf ball that cures high spinning golf shots. The AVX is one of the lowest spinning golf balls with the driver and high spin players are gravitating towards this new design. Spin is reduced using a high flex casing layer and tetrahedral catenary dimple pattern. These two things help give golfers longer tee and iron shots. Players that struggle with spinning their golf ball too much can find new relief in the AVX from Titleist.
Snell MTB Red Golf Balls
Snell is a brand that many new to golf may not have heard of for around $30, Snell is offering players a high-quality ball below-premium price. The MTB Red was awarded a Gold Medal from Golf Digest and that is remarkable considering how little people know of this newer brand. This four-piece design is promising performance straight out of the packaging with a soft feel on short shots. Budget-conscious golfers will be delighted with the price and performance of the MTB Red.
Honma TW-G6 Golf Balls
Honma has recently gained mass popularity after signing Justin Rose to an equipment contract. The TW-G6 golf ball is made to stand up to the best golf balls in the market. The TW-G6 offers 336 dimples structured around layers of increasing density to produce a golf ball that gives players high launch, low spin long games and low launch, high spin short games. It may be difficult to get your hands on these new era golf balls but they are worth the effort.
Callaway Supersoft Golf Balls
The Callaway Supersoft golf ball is created specifically for the amateur golfer. A lower compression factor helps players to receive tour-level performance even at slower swing speeds. Longer drives and more spin around the greens are what makes the Supersoft an outstanding golf ball for weekend players. If you believe that your game isn’t ready for the most expensive golf balls but you want a product that feels and performs great, the Supersoft is a must try.
What Golf Ball Should You Buy?
While it is easy to say that every golfer should be playing a tour-level golf ball that gives them optimal performance with their drivers, irons, wedges, and putter, it becomes difficult to justify paying over $40 per box if you continuously lose your golf balls. No matter what your playing ability of budget you should be testing different golf balls on indoor simulators or launch monitors to see which golf balls you prefer the feel and performance of. For budget-conscious golfers, it is a better idea to find a cheaper golf ball alternative and play that model every round that to simply swap out the balls you find or can find at the best prices.
The golf ball is highly subjective just like many golf clubs in the golf bag. The importance of getting the right ball for your golf game cannot be overstated. The golf ball is the only thing you will use for every swing and shot you take during your golf round. Often, on tour, you will see players making wholesale equipment changes but continue playing the same ball season after season. If you are serious about playing your best golf, the right equipment starts with the golf ball. Go and get fit and make sure to check out our other guides and buying guides to find the best golf ball and club combinations for your game. Thanks for reading and come back soon!