Golf Balls

Golf Balls

golf ballsWhat is the Best Ball for Your Game?


There are so many golf balls on the market it can be confusing as to which one you should play.  The balls are all the same size by rule but may have different dimple patterns, different compression ratings, different covers, and different core and cover materials.  There is a 2 piece ball, a three piece ball, etc.  Today, the balls also come in different colors.  In my opinion a major consideration has to be price.  New balls can range in price from just under $1 to about $4 apiece.  So how do you choose a ball?

This is always an interesting question and I believe it depends on what type of golfer you are.  The main golfer types are Beginner, High handicapper, Mid handicapper/ Bogey golfer, and Low handicapper.  Which type are you?  Please read all of the types to get a real picture of my feelings and those of other amateurs.

I should state that the majority of golf ball manufacturers believe that compression is a very important part of choosing a golf ball.  However, Titleist (the most popular ball manufacturer) seems to be the lone hold out that compression is not an issue and things like spin and performance around the green is more importance than distance off the tee.

You decide.  What fits your game.


The Golf Beginner:

Some new golfers start out by buying a complete set of everything.  Expensive clubs, a nice logo bag and they ask a salesman what is the best ball on the market.  Sometimes they come away with a dozen new Titleist Pro V1’s.

The one thing I can tell you about a new golfer is they will lose a lot of balls.  It almost doesn’t matter where they play.  Obviously, they will lose more balls on some courses than on others.  In Discovery Bay where I play, there is water on 15 of 18 holes.  Though I was a high handicapper, I was not a beginner.  I was wild and erratic.  During my first round I lost 9 balls.  And so the expression fits, “You need a lot of balls to play golf the way I do”.  You may not be aware, but courses with water on them pay divers to collect the lost golf balls.  They sell recycled balls in the Pro shop out of a large bin for about $1 a ball.  Since you lose so many balls as a beginner, OB shots, lost in the trees or woods, etc., why pay $4 for a golf ball?

Now let’s look at just playing different balls.  Pro’s like certain features of a golf ball.  In fact, they sometimes have a ball tailored just for them, spin, launch angle, feel around the green etc.  When Tiger Woods started to play the Nike ball, he played a special ball made for him.  Some people wanted that ball and Nike eventually made it available to the public.  Most of us are hackers next to a Pro and the ball does not have the same impact.  In fact, I would say that in general, most beginning golfers see almost no difference between golf balls.  Beginners should be more interested in contact and direction.  Most of the loss in distance is from poor contact and usually a slice, since most beginning golfers slice the ball.

If you do feel a need to choose a ball, I would recommend a soft ball, one with lower compression and less spin.  Golf balls can range in compression from 100 to about 80 and even below to perhaps 60.


The Golf High Handicapper:

The high handicapper may no longer be a beginning golfer, but for many reasons is still unable to put all the facets of the game together at the same time.  The higher handicap player usually still sprays the ball or has too many blow up holes ruining his or her overall score.  I say her because in reality, what I am writing about applies equally to men and women.  I know a number of cases where a man’s wife or girlfriend is a better golfer than he is.  He may still be a good golfer, just she is better.

Anyway, what I say about a golf ball for the beginner should apply equally to the high handicap golfer.  Their problem is still contact and direction or sometimes it’s down to the short game.  That’s right, chipping and putting.  In any event, they probably don’t see a real or consistent difference in golf balls and losing golf balls can really get expensive.  Maybe you don’t care, but I do.


The Mid Handicap or Bogey Golfer:

Many people fall into this category.  In my opinion, it’s a golfer who shoots between 85 and 95 on a pretty consistent basis.  I fall into this category.  My poor rounds are in the low to mid 90’s and my good rounds are in the mid to upper 80’s.  An exceptional round for me is below 85.  In actuality, I don’t find a lot of difference in my game with different golf balls.  I usually play the Bridgestone E6 which is a mid-compression ball.  I also like the Maxfli Noodle.  My problem is still hitting the ball consistently in the middle of the face.  A classic case of it being the Indian and Not the Arrow.  I also have ordered mint condition used balls on the internet, both Noodles and E6’s.  In all honesty, I can’t tell the difference.  It’s down to personal preference.

For a Bogey golfer, the question needs to be answered as to which is more important: Distance off the tee or feel around the greens.  We don’t spin the ball the way the Pros do but some balls seem to land hard on the green and roll off and some seem to hit softer.  Maybe we hit the balls differently shot to shot.  We hit a softer ball a little higher on approach?  My point is you may want to choose a ball based upon your approach rather than distance off the tee.

My friend Jack had been a single digit golfer in his younger days.  As he got older things changed.  What’s new, Arnold Palmer isn’t the same golfer he once was.  Anyway, Jack really falls into this Bogey golfer category but he definitely has opinions on his golf ball.  For example: he feels the Titleist Pro V1 is too hard to compress at his swing speed and therefore does not play this ball, even if he finds one.  He also does not like Top Flite balls.  To him they feel like rocks, other golfers feel differently.


The Low Handicap Golfer:

Here is where the choice of golf ball can actually come into play.  Two of the guys in my Friday golf foursome are low handicappers, George and Don.  They are both have single digit handicaps.  George definitely feels the ball he plays makes a difference.  More recently, he usually either plays a Calloway SuperSoft or a Titleist Pro V1x.  He feels the Pro V1x goes farther off the tee in nice weather.  He plays the softer ball when it’s colder out.  Don on the other hand says he plays any ball.  He does not see a difference and it doesn’t matter.  So I guess like most things in life we are down to personal preference.  Another factor I’m sure is swing speed


The Golf Ball and the Weather:

This may sound funny to less experienced golfers, but the temperature has an effect on the golf ball.  In cold weather the golf ball seems to be harder and does not go as far.  This can be true even during a round, especially in California where the sun has a major effect on temperature.  I live in what is called Northern California, east of San Francisco.  When I play golf in the Fall and Winter I always wear layers.  If we tee off early it is probably cold, but as the round progresses and the sun comes out, I can be in short sleeves.  Then, the later afternoon hits (after 2) and you start putting layers on again.

This temperature change has an effect on the golf ball.  The answer: Play a softer ball in Fall and Winter.  Probably if you have a faster swing speed it matters less but for the average golfer I believe it makes a difference.  The most important thing in my opinion is if you believe the ball will not go as far, it probably won’t.  It will effect you swing and you will have more mishits.  You must be comfortable over the ball.  Golf is a very mental game.

Jim Flick said” 90% of golf is mental, and the other 10% is mental too”.  Of course the great Yogi Berra said “90% of the game is half mental”. 

Anyway, my point is you may want to change golf balls dependent on the outside temperature.  Colder equates to using a softer ball.

You can find more information about ball compression and a comparison chart by copying the following url into your browser:











2 thoughts on “Golf Balls

  1. Saul,

    The more money you spend on golf balls, the better you can boast in the Bar! But if you want to score around the greens, buy the ball that feels the best for you, and that might be the softest feeling one. Almost all makers of balls today have “soft balls” that might feel better (around the greens)……

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