Do Golf Balls Make a Difference? A Guide to Choosing Golf Balls

Do Golf Balls Make A Difference? A Guide To Choosing Golf Balls

People don’t really consider that the golf balls you use could be part of the problem or part of a solution.

There are key differences to these little wonders of our mutually beloved game, so we’re here to talk about them.

There are differences in different types of golf balls, and it’s important that you know them. It could be a game-changer for you.

It’s the last thing that people tend to think about when it comes to performance. We look at golf gadgets to help us out, our own training, or our clubs. While those are all good things to look at, it’s not everything.

There are different construction techniques and designs that go into different golf balls. We’re going to talk about them, and what you should be looking for.

What’s the Difference Between Golf Balls?

golf ball at the hole

A lot of it usually comes down to price.

Thing is, the cost is not a good metric to define value or skill level.

In many instances, brands can, and often will charge more just because you know and trust their name. It has to make the golf balls better, right?

Not necessarily. I don’t have brand loyalty to any one specific company. Some do actually make better quality golf gear than others, and I will usually order from them more often, but no brand has any magic behind it. When buying golf balls, this is important to remember.

In short, there are three main parts of a golf ball that make them stand out against others. Three parts that matter for functionality above all else.

Dimples: You might think these iconic portions of your golf ball don’t serve a purpose, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you had an entirely smooth surface on your golf ball, there would be no spin to it. It would be about 45-55% harder to send it through the air, meaning your driver wouldn’t really be driving the ball anywhere. Your golf ball has about 300-500 dimples on it, which are all working with the wind as it cuts through the air. They’re ridiculously important.

difference between golf balls

Cover: This is where you’ll run into two different materials for the surface, or cover of a golf ball. There’s a resin that’s called surlyn, which generally provides less spin on your golf ball. This is okay for higher handicap levels. Then you have urethane, most notably polyurethane, which is the same material that most wood is finished with for that smooth countertop surface feeling. This is better for lower handicap players.

Core: The inside of that golf ball you have—it’s compressed. The material inside of a golf ball is extremely important, because some materials can be easily compressed, while others cannot. Compression is everything. A rating of 100 is something that you’ll see professional level golfers using, because it’s rated for over 140 feet of air travel. Lower compression ratings are better suited for lower skilled players, or those with a higher handicap. 90 or less will do, and are often less pricey than 100+.

Then of course, there are two different ways that they’re actually put together during the production and manufacturing phase.

Two Piece: Simply put, it’s a golf ball core and a cover, so you have that compression piece we talked about earlier that’s basically coated in one of the two primary cover materials. These are generally cheaper, making them a better choice for beginners or low-budget golfers who want to enjoy the sport without getting into the nitty gritty of it. While they’re less expensive, two piece golf balls are actually rated to last longer than multiple layer golf balls.

whats inside golf ball

Multiple Layers: Featuring a thinner cover with shallow dimples for better spin, these golf balls have multiple layers to react in a slightly different manner than two piece golf balls. The basic principle is that while the cover is thinner, you’re directly hitting the compressed core of the golf ball, and you can send them higher. Like we talked about earlier, 100+ compression ratings are designed for professionals, and most multiple layer golf balls are 100+.

Do Hard or Soft Golf Balls go Further?

The difference is pretty simple, and it’s something you’ll come to notice when testing course-provided golf balls versus the ones that you bring with you, or find at the store.

Harder golf balls will go farther, softer golf balls will give more spin. It’s basically distance versus control.

The funny thing is, there aren’t many differences in the dimple numbers on hard balls over soft balls, which is usually the defining factor when it comes to control.

It’s about the transfer of kinetic energy when you hit the ball. The vibration is going to travel through the soft material easier than it will with the harder material.

Are Used Golf Balls Good?

Well, they’re not bad.

They’re just not as good as new balls.

The main problem is that used golf balls—particularly the ones that are sold after being salvaged from driving ranges—have been in lakes, streams, the woods, and they’ve been hit by other golf clubs. If they’re not cracked and they haven’t retained any water, then they’re fine.

Let’s say that you have the option to buy used golf balls for 60% of their standard price. Let’s say that they’re high quality, good name brand golf balls that you know are reliable. You’re paying 60% of the money to use them 60% of the time. You won’t get a full life out of them.

different type of used golf balls

That’s okay.

That’s a smart, budget-friendly way to approach it. There’s just this weird stigma around buying used golf balls, and people assuming that it somehow makes you a bad golfer or just generally poor. While I’ll admit that there is some money-based snobbery in golf, most people don’t actually care if you get used golf balls. When you buy them, they’ve been cleaned up enough to look good.

In terms of performance, they’re still good. These get checked over by those who sell them, so while they won’t last as long or they might crack sooner than new balls, they’re still going to perform well and allow you to get in some really good games before they need to be retired.

Are Golf Balls Different Weights?

Not often, no. There may be a 1/100th of an ounce difference here or there, but there’s a standard that needs to be followed.

You must not have golf balls above 1.62 ounces. It unbalances the game. Most manufacturers won’t even make heavier golf balls, because it literally allows you to drive the ball much further than you’re supposed to in a game of golf.

This regulation is put in place to ensure fair play, and an even game across the board.

If you just enjoy having a good time at the driving range and hitting a few balls (or a few hundred), then you can find weighted ones online from specialty shops. These sometimes go up to 2.25 oz, or as high at 3.25 oz, but after a while they’re just harder to hit.

This, of course, isn’t going to really train you to pursue professional golf, or even take part in local tournaments.

It’s just not a practical way to approach the sport, because you’re be thrown out of your element entirely when the 1.62 oz rule comes into play.

It would be like playing baseball, and one day, after intense training, someone hands you a tennis racket and says “Yeah, we’re doing this now.”

Why do Golf Balls Have Dimples?

For aerodynamics.

You’re hurtling compressed ethylene substances through the air at speeds reaching up to 211 MPH, which is already insane if you think about it, and you need that speeding ball of matter to actually travel through the air in a predictable path.

dimples at the golf balls

The dimples help with the spin.

The spin is what gives the ball velocity, but if it spun without something to balance it out, then it would just go off primarily on one direction at a high speed, and shoot crooked when it launched from the golf tee. That’s not helping anybody.

10 Best Brands for Golf Balls

I’m not big about specific brand names, but I also can’t deny the consistently high-quality golf balls that these brands tend to put out.

Ranked from best, in descending order, these are the best brands for golf balls based on their quality and dedication to details.

Titleist

As arguably the best golf ball out there, this brand continuously comes out with high quality balls.

As a result, they aren’t cheap, but they are effective at driving long distances without having a ton of weight behind them. Consistency is the name of the game, so if you’re able to play for long periods of time, you’ll see that your Titleist balls will last right there with you.

TaylorMade

You know this name well, and it’s because they continue to provide excellent quality over quantity.

It’s what’s earned them their reputation. From their Project (a) golf balls right on down to the TP5 golf balls, they make highly aerodynamic golf balls that aren’t going to get dragged down by the wind (within reason).

Above that, they make multiple types of golf balls, so if you find that you have a better time with multiple-layer balls, they’ve got them. Two pieces? They’ve got those as well. TaylorMare makes damn near everything that you’ll need for your lifetime golf career.

Callaway

If you don’t notice Callaway right away, then I’m a bit surprised.

It’s one of the most well-known golfing brands in the world, mostly because they produce Supersoft, their ultra soft golf balls that give you a bit more spin control when it leaves the tee.

callaway brand golf balls

They’ve used geometric engineering to develop their Trigonometry cover, with a low compression rating for beginners and intermediate players, and low-drag features found across different versions of their golf balls. In short, they’re always developing new golf-related technology, no matter what.

Srixon

Srixon is on this list because somehow, these balls just know how to stop better on the green.

While they can’t change the weight, Srixon’s lineup uses the right compression to help the balls travel as far as you need, and then slow down (based on aerodynamics).

They have tons of different ball lineups, but for the most part, this is a brand-wide thing that I’ve personally noticed, and online golfers have found through their own experience. Srixon is also the perfect mid-point between cost and quality, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Bridgestone

Bridgestone is a tour-eccentric brand that’s designed some truly inspirational golf tech with their balls.

For example, their Tour B XS balls come with a Gradational Compression core, which allow you to hit farther without any extra effort.

Bridgestone is always trying to manufacture balls with better spin control and aerodynamics, so you can not only hit farther, but you can be more confident in your game. Distance is nothing without direction, which is where another one of their tech pieces come into play—Dual Dimple. It’s in most of their golf balls, and increases trajectory across the board.

Nike

Yeah, even Nike is getting in on it.

They’re all about getting out and getting active, the “Just Do It” mentality, and they have the various golf ball lineups to prove that you really can just get out and do it.

nike golf balls

Crush, Velocity, NDX, Tour Control, IGNITE, Karma—that’s not even all of the different ball types that they have.

They’re committed to helping you with your performance, no matter what sport you’re playing, so why not trust the same company that you get your golf shoes from? I’d argue that their diversity with different golf ball types and products gives everyone something to be happy about.

Precept

Quality should always come over cost, and in this instance, you get a fair balance of both.

Precept is a good brand that produces agreeable balls, ones that are a bit better than the ones they provide as inexpensive driving ranges and golf courses.

They keep things simple; they’re not trying to do what Nike and Bridgestone are doing, they’re not looking to reinvent the wheel. They just want to provide an aerodynamic option that can provide good distance, and doesn’t try to color outside the lines. Regardless, they make quality tennis balls that aren’t that pricey, so you win on both accounts.

Schwetty

They know their brand name, and they make a joke about it on every single product you can find.

Most notably, the “Schwetty Pair of Balls” injects some humor into the sport (which many online reviews don’t seem to understand).

At the end of the day, they’re basic golf balls that are built fairly tough, so you’ll be able to actually use them and have a good laugh with your buddies at the range at the same time.

Volvik

Volvik comes to mind for a lot of reasons.

They’re towards the bottom of this list, because they’re very cost-effective, and they’re balls that you don’t have to worry about losing. I’d be upset if I lost a Titleist, but with these, you get plenty without spending too much.

volvik golf balls

They’re slightly above average golf balls. They’re not going to do anything special, but they do come in bright, easily identifiable colors so that you can spot them in the sand or woods from a mishit.

It also comes in handy if you end up getting one stuck in the pond. Volvik won’t outlast a box of Nike golf balls, but they’ll do the trick for a good amount of time.

Nitro

Durability is the name of the game when it comes to Nitro.

They’re decent quality, but we’re not looking at multiple-layer, high-density balls here. They’re built tough, which is their first line of defense. They’ll withstand a beating, go the distance, and still function after they’ve been brought through hell and back. They’re a budget-friendly option above all else.

As you can see, with this list, it goes from quality at the top, to budget-friendly options at the bottom. There’s nothing wrong with having a budget when you equip your bag with more golf balls, just know where you stand when it comes to quality versus quantity.

It’s All About How You Play

At the end of the day, get the golf balls that you feel the best using.

If your handicap is around a 12, you might not want to use high compression balls. If your handicap is under 2 or non-existent, high compression is the way to go.

Golf balls do make a difference, but it’s about how you apply them. There are only so many differences, so analyze your play style before you decide to pick a specific ball type.

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