At its core, golf is a series of variables with scientific control factors.
Swing speed, club material, club head weight, wind speed, weather conditions—there are so many different things that can affect your game. You have to do what you can when you step up to the tee to control the outcome of your swing.
Hone your skills, enhance your understanding of the game and mechanical knowledge, but that isn’t enough to carry you to the end of the line.
It comes down to the golf balls you’re using. There are so many different layers to a golf ball (literally) that seriously enhance or impact performance, which is why we’ve curated this fantastic list that features the cream of the crop.
We have the best golf balls for beginners, advanced players, and anyone looking to seriously enhance their golf game or start off on the right foot. Let’s take a look.
Best for beginners: TaylorMade Distance Plus Golf Balls
Even after all these years, nobody seems to be able to beat TaylorMMade. They still make some of the best golf balls for average golfers, pros, and even beginners alike. Starting with their core, TaylorMade did something excellent here.
They developed a React Core that helps drive the ball further without requiring a crazy amount of extra pressure from you. While the exterior is synthetic and not technically polyurethane, it performs very similarly.
One of the biggest issues with golf balls is that if it’s more of a plastic composite material on the shell, it will crack from pressure, and get waterlogged easily if it lands in a lake. Synthetic is a good go-between to save money, while also protecting the compression of the golf ball.
You’re sitting at a 50/50 compression rating here. That basically means a good mix between low and high compression, allowing you to hit your shots a considerable distance while still having some control over where your ball lands.
TaylorMade gives you one dozen in a package, which works out to be less than a dollar per golf ball at its normal price (during the time of writing this post at least). You can opt for the basic white balls, or go for neon yellow to help with visibility during night golf in high flood light areas. It also comes in handy for daytime visibility.
From everything we’ve seen and experienced, TaylorMade allows you to hit about six to eleven yards further with that core technology built into the rubber center. They made the top of the lis because they truly created something that works for all levels of golf, whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro.
Runner up: Nitro NMD Maximum Distance Golf Ball
As the second-best golf balls on this list, you get a bit of a discount. Nitro makes their NMD golf balls in a twelve-pack at a bargain price, and the best thing is that they’re fluorescent orange, so you’ll be able to spot them without wasting precious time during your match.
While these are some of the best soft golf balls, there are some high claims here made by Nitro that just aren’t realistic. They mentioned that their balls perform the same no matter what condition, but a basic understanding of science and how temperatures affect everything around us will disprove that.
Ball flight will be adjusted depending on the density in the air, and the density changes with cold temperatures or rain. Now, with that out of the way, it’s also important to know that these balls still perform exceptionally, they’re just not the most fantastic golf balls out there.
Nitro ensures these balls follow USGA rules. At first glance, many people assume that the bright orange color is more meant for fun and these aren’t the real deal, but they deliver on all the quality you would expect from a top golf ball brand.
One excellent little feature here is that you get four separate packages with three balls in each, allowing you to bring one pack with you when you head out to the course. You don’t have to bring the whole box or make room for the entire box in your golf bag.
Last but not least, Nitro makes their NMD Maximum Distance golf balls with an enhanced dupont lithium surlyn cover. This is another area they make high claims in by saying virtually indestructible, but admittedly, it is extremely tough and should last through rain, sleet, and shine.
Best for average golfer: TaylorMade TP5x Golf Balls
TaylorMade is back in the running, and their TP5X golf balls are one of the most premium picks you’ll ever be able to use. They’re not the best budget golf balls, but they’ll perform better than whatever you’re currently using.
TP5 golf balls are one of the most-endorsed golf balls out there. We all know TaylorMade products are always on the PGA tours and are present at cups, and that’s because golfers like Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and tons of other pro golfers use TaylorMade.
Should you use these just because the pros do? Of course not. But it’s important to see what draws them to these golf balls. You get further distances with your driver due to the five-layer speed construction.
Speed can be determined partially by the ball, but distance is another story. The reason that people often go for low compression golf balls is because they’re able to go farther without requiring a higher level of skill. Make no mistake—TaylorMade is all about skill and rewarding you as your progress.
That five-layer construction includes a tri-fast core to allow for maximum carry speed through the air. These are both featured in the TP5 and TP5x golf ball models, so if you end up going with the other, you still get these great benefits. It’s difficult to create something that’s compressed and dense but still offers flex, yet somehow TaylorMade was able to do it.
They’re available in batches of one-dozen, but they try to get you in on a “deal” to buy four dozen at an inflated price. Don’t do it. If you need more than one dozen, but them in increments of one box at a time to maintain the best possible price.
Best Budget Golf Balls: Nike Mix Golf Balls
Nike generally supplies the physical gear we wear when we golf, but it should come to no surprise that they make excellent golf balls as well. The kicker here is that Nike balls are just roped in with others, such as RBZ, in this discount pack of used golf balls.
We explain just how viable used golf balls are later on in our buying guide, but for now, it’s safe to assume that used golf balls save you money and last just as long as new golf balls. This mixture helps bring you a variety, which comes with pros and cons.
On the plus side, you could be getting the best rated golf balls in this mix, but you could also end up with some lesser brands. It comes down to what they’re able to find from course or pull from lakes. This means that you can’t rely on the exact same performance as you would with a pack of our top pick of TaylorMade; you’re going to get a mixed bag experience most of the time.
You get whatever they’re able to assemble. Sometimes that means you’ll get the speed pack, which are balls designed for higher velocity after you hit them with your club, but most of the time you’ll get a healthy 75%+ mix of Nike balls as well as some miscellaneous others.
You can find plenty of information online pointing towards the viability of used golf balls, but as you might expect, there are some hiccups. Some scuffs or scrapes might come out of your box, but rest assured that they’ve been checked to ensure the structural integrity of the shell is completely intact. It’s rare (or practically a nonexistent issue) to receive a ball in your kit that’s truly a dud.
Best Soft Golf Balls: Callaway Golf Supersoft Golf Balls
You want the best golf balls in existence, but that’s a tough pedestal for any brand to sit on. Callaway doesn’t make false claims, they don’t try to hit you with sales language: they just let their products do the talking. For years now, their constant innovations in golf balls have changed the way we play the game, and the Supersoft Series golf balls are no different.
These are low compression golf balls, meaning you’re more likely to hit these further, but speed is going to be an issue. When you’re driving a golf ball with low compression, it goes further, but it comes at a cost: you can’t ramp up the speed quite as much.
The loss of speed is okay if you’re a beginner, but these Callaway balls adapt as you grow which is what makes them so great. Once your skill level increases, you’ll be able to match the power of these Callaway golf balls and really send them flying.
HEX aerodynamics are one of Callaway’s best technologies to date. These reduce drag, as you would expect, while increasing the lift. You’ll drive your ball further than most low compression golf balls on the market can offer you; that’s just the beauty of how Callaway engineers their gear. You can get these balls in six different colors.
These can help with night golf, or they can simply give you a way to identify your ball without having to put a marker on them at the start of your match. Keep in mind that the color you choose will impact the total cost. While it’s a negligible amount, it’s still good to know.
Best Golf Ball Buying Guide and FAQ
What to Look for in Golf Balls
No two golf balls are built the same. It’s important to look at a variety of factors before deciding on exactly which golf balls will best suit your needs.
- Compression: We’ll explain compression in detail a little. Just know that compression is one of the biggest differences, and will directly impact your ability to drive the ball. Depending on how compressed the core is, you will either encounter difficulty or you’ll be able to drive the ball further, but with less technical speed.
- Cover: The shell, casing, or cover (whatever you want to call it) around the golf ball can be made out of different materials. Your golf ball cover can be made out of something called surlyn ionomer, which is essentially just plastic and elastane mixed together. Urethane golf ball covers tend to come at higher price points, but they’re the most impact-resistant and designed to last the longest.
- Spin Control: When your golf ball spins, it can whirl out of control and become a huge problem. Instead of allowing that to happen, you can look for spin control, which usually comes down to the dimple design on the outside of your golf balls. Spin control allows you to hit the ball further by aligning a straight flight path instead of spinning and losing momentum in the air.
- Weight: This doesn’t seem like it makes a difference since golf balls can only be between 1.620 oz and 1.680 oz, but those parameters are there for a reason. There’s a lot of scientific thinking that goes into velocity, drag speed and other elements of sending a ball through the air. If you can avoid it, do not get balls on the higher end of that range. 0.060 of an ounce doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re driving these balls over 300 feet, it could make all the difference in the world.
The one difficulty here is that when you get a pack of used golf balls, you can’t really tell what the spin control is going to be from ball to ball. Some used packs promise to only use a certain list of balls so you can have a general idea, but spin control and distance are up in the air.
Do Golf Balls Make a Difference?
You don’t have to weight the best value golf balls against the most expensive ones or anything like that. It comes down to the compression in your golf ball, as well as the dimples on it.
Should I Use Soft or Hard Golf Balls?
If you want the best golf balls for distance, you want a softer golf ball. If you’ve been golfing for a long time, you’ll want hard golf balls.
This is because a softer golf ball requires more compression, which it receives from the end of your club. With a harder golf ball, it’s already more compressed so it just needs pressure from your club to provide velocity and direction.
A softer golf ball will provide you with more distance, meaning if you’re still trying to work on actually making it to the end of the green, you can use them. Hitting them will provide a great deal of force and send them flying into the air, but your direction and ability to control the ball from the tee will be limited.
Harder golf balls don’t take as much of an impact from the head of your golf club. Instead, the force simply hits the object and begins moving it without affecting as much of the interior. Denser, more compact interior means less vibrations rattling through it from the striking power. Good golfers will eventually upgrade to hard golf balls because of the control they can have.
Is It Worth Getting “Measured” for Golf Balls?
Getting measured for golf balls means going to a facility that’s run by a golf ball manufacturer. You can essentially be fitted for the type of golf ball that fits you best, based on what we just read in the last section.
There are hybrid models of golf balls that sit somewhere in between soft and hard, which is where getting measured comes into play.
But I must warn you: you’re walking into a den of salesmen. Unless you’re planning on dropping hundreds of dollars for specific golf balls (because they’re really going to push that quantity), or you’re really good at turning down salesmen, it’s not a good idea to go.
It can be beneficial, but it’s also an endeavor. Most of us would be much better off buying a few different types of balls, new or used, and then trying them out for ourselves.
Are Used Golf Balls Good?
Used golf balls have been proven to hit just as far as brand new golf balls. However, when we hear the word used, whether it’s in the best low compression golf balls or the most compact golf balls you’ve ever seen, it has a negative connotation with it.
A used golf ball is a ball that was once new, has been hit once or more with a club, and has been inspected for damages before being cleaned, rebranded, and then sold to you at a lower cost. Yes, they’re used, but they’re also rigorously tested.
The practice of hunting down used golf balls and reselling them sounds a bit off-putting, until you really take a look at the practice. You’re getting inspected, passing grade golf balls that have been put through the ringer before ever being packaged and shipped. You have the same odds of finding a defective golf ball in a used pack that you do from a new pack.
Does Water Ruin Good Golf Balls?
Not if the golf balls are protected. As long as the external shell of the golf ball is still intact, then you’re not going to run into any major, long-term issues that would cause a waterlogged golf ball to underperform.
The ability that a golf ball has to withstand water is fantastic, but not exactly unexpected. Golf balls are highly pressurized, and the shell on a golf ball is designed to hold onto that pressure even when met with extreme force (you hitting it with a metal-headed club).
Water pressure has to be really intense to ruin a golf ball. Time spent in a shallow 3M lake found on a golf course isn’t going to be enough to really hurt a golf ball; the internal components are already under far more pressure.
Companies will spend their time going into lakes at golf courses, extracting the balls, and cleaning them to be resold. After cleaning, perhaps rebranding, and some inspection to make sure the shell isn’t cracked, they can be reused.
While you’re not as likely to see reused balls in a PGA tour or the Ryder Cup, that’s because big names don’t have to pay for their own balls most of the time. Most golfers, at some point in their life, will buy and use refurbished golf balls with zero issues.
Better Golf Balls, Better Matches
When you dig into the science behind golf balls, it’s pretty insane just how much effort, engineering, and testing goes into something so small.
Golf balls can make or break you, which is why having the right golf balls is extremely important right from the start.
Beginner, seasoned player, what have you—you need to upgrade your golf balls. Older golf balls are still viable, but a new pack of golf balls will last you for much longer. It’s time to make a decision.
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