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Golfing aficionados, both rookies and veterans, often find themselves facing a myriad of choices when it comes to selecting the perfect golf ball. With multiple brands, designs, and technologies, making the right pick can seem daunting. So, how do you decide on the best golf ball tailored to your game? This comprehensive guide will break down crucial factors to consider, ensuring you make an informed decision.
There are five factors to consider when selecting a golf ball, and each with its own pros and cons.
- How many pieces is the golf ball
- Do you want high or low spin (driver and wedge)
- Low or high compression
- Soft vs firm feel of the ball
- How much are you willing to spend
Let’s dive in and explore each factor individually and what they mean for your game.
How Many Pieces Do I Need?
The first thing to consider is the number of layers in the golf ball and what each type is built for. The number of layers on a ball can impact your shot height, your distance, your spin rates, and how the ball feels at impact. As a general rule, better players use more layers, meaning an average or high handicap golfer may want a two piece ball while a low handicapper will want a 4 or 5 piece ball. As a quick overview of the different types
- One-Piece: Ideal mainly for mini-golf. They are durable and super firm but provide the least performance.
- Two-Piece: A solid core with a durable cover, offering distance and forgiveness over spin. Best suited for casual or high handicap golfers. Something like the Callaway Supersoft.
- Three-Piece: Offers a balance of distance and spin. Suited for players with a mid to low handicap. A good example is the Titleist Pro V1.
- Four-Piece: Each layer is designed for distinct purposes, combining to provide distance and feel. These general have a higher compression rating and are built for faster swing speeds. Suitable for low-handicap players. If a four piece ball sounds right for you check out the Titleist Pro V1x.
- Five-Piece: The pinnacle in golf ball design, offering nuanced performance benefits. They’re pretty similar to 4 piece balls, but the additional layer tends to make the ball a bit more soft at impact, also for low-handicap golfers. A great five-piece ball is the Taylormade TP5.
Spin: Higher or Lower?
Spin is the reason you slice the ball out of bounds, or the reason you have a perfect baby draw. Its also why your ball rolls off the green or stops on a dime. As a general rule, high handicap and beginner players want less spin and better players want more spin. The reason being high handicappers don’t know how to positively use or generate helpful spin and it manifests in a lot of negative ways like a slice or hook.
When looking for a golf ball you need to consider two types of spin:
- Driver Spin: This is vital for beginner golfers and those with high handicaps. Often, they grapple with unintentional hooks or slices, which can sap the strength from their shots. So, a golf ball with less driver spin is recommended for high handicappers.
- Wedge Spin: Seasoned players, who can induce spin with their wedges, value this. However, for the average Joe, high wedge spin isn’t essential. A silver lining? Balls with moderate wedge spin are generally more wallet-friendly.
A good golf ball option that offers lower driver spin while still having performance around the greens would be the Srixon Q-Star Tour ball.
Low or High Compression?
Put simply compression is how much does your ball compress when you hit it. As a golfer you can compress too much, resulting in less distance and hitting the ball up in the air more. Or you can not compress the ball enough which will end up being a low shot, with out much distance and a lot of spin. So finding the ball that compresses just enough for your swing does matter.
What level of compression fits you has a lot to do with how hard you swing the club (assuming you hit the ball when you swing hard).
- Swing speed below 85 mph: Go with a low compression ball, something with a compression rating of 40-70.
- Swing speed of 85-100 mph: Use a mid compression ball with a compression rating of 70-90.
- Swing speed above 100 mph: Use a high compression ball with a compression rating of 90 or abov.
Soft vs. Firm Feel
For the most part whether you use a soft of firm feeling golf ball is a personal preference, but don’t confuse feel with compression. You can have a high compression golf ball with a soft cover and you can have a low compression ball with a hard cover. Different material on the ball will make the feel different without changing the compression.
How Much Do You Want to Spend?
Similar to feel, how much you want to spend is up to you but I’ll give you some easy to follow guidelines on the topic. Generally, don’t spend a lot of money ($4-5 a ball) if you’re not a pretty decent golfer.
As a high-handicap golfer or a beginner you’re bound to lose quite a few balls on the course, and you don’t want each one costing you $5. In addition to losing balls, the more premium golf balls often come with an assortment of features that you’re not really in a position to take full advantage of yet, so the premium price isn’t adding any extra benefits to your game. For you I’d recommend spending around $2 a ball. For our take on the best value golf ball, check out our review of the Best Golf Balls of 2023.
As you start getting better and become a mid or low handicap golfer, feel free to move up in price if your wallet can handle it. By this point you’re hanging on to balls longer and you’ll be able to use some of the added benefits like increased spin more. At this point you’re ready for the $4-5 balls.
Picking The Best Ball For You
With a much more informed outlook on the ins and outs of golf balls, its time to pick the one that’s right for you.
Beginner or High Handicap Golfer
One of your biggest considerations is price, since you’re bound to lose a few balls during a round. Stick to the $2-3 per ball range and it’ll be easier to let those go when they’re hit out of bounds.
I’d also recommend a 2 or 3 piece ball, that has lower spin off the driver and is very forgiving. This recipe is going to fit your price range while also helping you find more fairways. For you I’d recommend the Callaway Supersoft. It’s a 2-piece ball with low spin and a low compression rating, that’s about $2 a ball.
Mid Handicap Golfer
Once your game improves you’ll likely be wanting to upgrade your ball a bit. At this point, you’ll have more control of your shot height and shape, and maybe even your wedge spin. You could be comfortable moving to a 3 or 4 piece ball with a bit more spin. Compression rating would depend on your swing speed but find something that matches the guide we gave earlier.
If you’re a slower swing speed, mid-handicapper, we recommend going with something like the Srixon Soft Feel, and it still is reasonably priced compared to other premium balls.
Low Handicap Golfer
Truthfully use what’s working for you. If you’re a low handicap golfer, you’ve likely figured out which ball works best for your specific game and if you haven’t then go with a 3-5 piece ball with more spin and feel free to splurge on a nicer ball since they’ll last (see our article on whether golf balls go bad). You can’t go wrong with a Titleist Pro V1 in our opinion.
So, what golf ball is best for you? There isn’t really a short answer to this, it depends on where you are in your golf journey and what your particular game needs. If you struggle to hit it straight off the tee try less driver spin. If you need the perfect touch around the greens try more spin. Don’t break the bank if you’re going to lose a lot of balls. And pick one that feels best to you. If you’re curious about whether the number of dimples on the ball effect it feel free to check out our article on how many dimples are on a golf ball and why. And if you need even more guidance check out our recommendations on the Best Golf Balls of 2023.