Ball Selection

Choosing the right Golf Ball to Fit Your Game

For the casual golfer, ball fitting is not often considered a part of the custom fitting process. However, the ball must compliment all aspects of a golfer’s game. Now if you are a beginner or a relative novice in the sport golf, then matching a ball specific to your game is not all that critical. When you are losing a few balls during each round, it’s probably best to buy the least expensive ones, purchase recycled balls in bulk, or play with found balls and spend your cash on custom fitting. As long as you are not hitting balls with cracks or major scuffs, and the ball is fairly clean, it will not matter much until you have developed a consistent swing. However, avoid the temptation of using range balls as they have limited distance and my have been hit enough to weaken their structure and limit their effectiveness.

The ball manufacturers are always trying to improve the flight of balls they produce within the USGA and PGA guidelines. For many years, golf balls were produced with a rubber core, surrounded by rubber bands or stretched elastic and then covered with a solid cover – soft-feeling synthetic rubber known as balata. That traditional construction was a three-piece wound ball. Though some players still prefer wound balls – these are now uncommon.

Today, there are multiple types of ball construction and each one provides the golfer with a different “feel” when the ball is hit. Flight, spin, and distance are all determined by a ball’s core. All certified balls are required to be regulation size, but the dimples on the outside cover can vary in terms of dimple design, number of dimples, as well as the pattern. But, what is on the inside of the ball makes the biggest difference. Balls can be made in one, two, or three piece construction, contain multi-layers, and even have four-piece designs. Different materials surround an inner core and depending on how hard or soft those materials are causes the ball react very differently when the club makes impact.

Two-piece balls dominate the market as they consist of a much larger core covered by variations of a synthetic cover material known as surlyn. The latest construction design is the three-piece, double-cover ball. It features an inner core surrounded by an inner layer or cover, then topped by a synthetic cover material. The core and inner cover are usually differing in hardness and are said to provide a better combination of distance on wood shots and spin with shorter irons.

Balls are typically divided into two categories: Performance and Distance

The Six Major Factors to Consider when Selecting a Ball:

The amount of inherent spin you need for your ball depends largely upon your skill level and style of play. Beginners and less skilled players need less spin because they already tend to hit the ball and produce a lot of side spin, which generally creates hooks and slices. When a ball spins less, it won’t travel as far off the target path. However, there is a downside to having a ball with lower spin. It is more difficult to get the ball to stop around the green. Backspin is helpful because approach shots stop quickly, and it allows pitch shots to check up on the green. On the reverse side, more experienced low handicap players want the features provided by balls that have higher spin rates. Better players generally need a ball with a high spin rate as this allows the ball to stop quicker on the greens and also enables them to curve shots when necessary. By definition, the higher a ball’s spin rate, the less its forward momentum.

There is not a ton of difference in the distance you can hit the various types of balls. But in general, a harder ball comes off the clubface a little lower and harder, thus it will travel farther. This is fine (in most cases) with a driver, but remember, it will hit off the wedge lower and harder too. This means a sacrifice of some control on short irons and recovery shots. If maximum distance is the goal, you do not necessarily have to play a hard golf ball. However, a distance ball has cover hardness which will be relatively high in order to obtain low driver spin. You my want to select a core compression that provides a balance between both high speed and low spin.

Durability though pertains to how long the ball is going to last. Typically, a softer the ball will not last as long. While golf balls do not really
get cut-up as frequently as in the past, you will get scratches on the ball either from the grooves in your club, rough areas, trees, cart paths, or other such obstacles. A harder ball is going to last longer without getting dinged up.

Many golfers prefer a ball that is softer, so that they can feel a bit of “grip” at impact. A good feel of the ball at impact can lead to the golfer
gaining more confidence. A golfer has to like the feel of the golf ball he or she is playing. You need to have confidence that the ball your playing will give you the best results.
single ball in cup
Balls are often hyped as “distance” or “high-performance” balls, with the implication that there’s no middle ground. Actually, most of today’s balls are more balanced in their performance characteristics. Performance balls are excellent around the green because they put more spin on the ball. They also put more spin on the ball on your drive at the tee box. This makes it spin left and right more, hence more missed fairways. Don’t just consider the expensive performance balls, think about your game and what you need to improve on most. You may want to play a distance ball, because they will frequently hit more fairways and travel farther. Distance balls also cost less than performance ones.

Low handicappers should consider selecting a combination of High Performance/High Compression balls for better control and distance. These are more expensive multi-layered balls and in order to compress them at ball impact, you need to have a strong, consistent, fast swing. If you do not have these characteristics with your swing, you can actually lose distance and control using them. Medium to high handicappers should consider selecting Low-Medium Compression golf balls with one or two layers. These are for players with a slower swing, less compression and softer feel. These balls are generally less expensive.

DIMPLES: Dimple patterns will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. These patterns have the potential to change the aerodynamic qualities of the golf ball. Some balls fly higher with a slower swing speed largely because of the number and arrangement of the dimples. The “dimples” reduce the air drag, allowing the ball to stay in the air for a longer flight than would be possible with a smooth surface. They are designed to enable the ball to make a steady and true flight.

Ladies Ball Selection
Gender specific golf balls do exist, albeit, all balls are exactly the same size and weight. Other than appearance (primarily color), women’s golf balls are slightly different from balls designed for male players. Aesthetically speaking – some (but not all) women’s golf ball manufacturers coat their balls with a glittery surface or otherwise try to make the women’s balls visually different. Both men’s and women’s golf balls feature similar dimple patterns (although these patterns differ between manufacturers), there are a couple of slight variations in how these balls are made including “compression” and “hardness”.

Generally, male golfers swing harder than female golfers do. As a consequence of this physical strength variation, men’s golf balls have harder cores to deal with the more aggressive force of compression exerted on them. The compression of a golf ball at impact is directly related to one’s swing speed. A fast swing speed matches up with a high compression ball. Conversely, a slow swing speed is a better match for a low compression ball. Typically, men’s golf ball compression ratings can range from 80 to 100, while women’s range from 60 to 80. Senior and Junior golf balls are usually 80 compression.

Women’s golf balls are made softer to carry more backspin on shots. Men’s golf balls are made harder to impact their long game shots, thus enabling the ball to travel further. Woman’s golf balls are usually better for the short game, but not for distance. The shorter distance from the tee to the hole balances the loss of distance out. But, woman’s golf balls can feel a bit hollow. For women experiencing difficulty managing a desired trajectory, softer balls provide extra help.

Men can actually use women’s balls, and vice versa, women can use men’s balls if you prefer the feel of one or the other. Weather is also a factor in the compression a golfer should use. If it’s cold weather, women’s balls tend to work better in colder temperatures. In order to distinguish the varying hardness and softness in their golf balls, manufacturers have started marking most balls with a specific compression rating. The number, which indicates the density of the ball and offers a clue to golfers as to what swing speed best matches any ball in question.

Obviously, the most important thing you can do to lower your score is to hit more greens and putt from shorter distances. While seeking a perfect ball to match your game, the best thing that you can do for yourself after finding a playable ball is to keep playing it every single round. Every golf ball is slightly different. So by playing the same model, you will get used to the distances that you hit the ball, improve your touch around the greens, and have a better idea of how to compensate for any draws or fades. One strategy is to play the ball that works/feels best with your irons and putter. A great drive is worthless if the approach or chip shot doesn’t hold. A golfer really should know how he or she wants the ball to perform from 120 yards and in to the cup. Keep in mind that with multi-core and multi-mantle balls, you are no longer sacrificing much distance off the tee for feel around the green.

Evaluate the type of ball to use with an understanding of your greenside control needs. If control around the greens is critical to your game then consider a 3-piece urethane covered ball. If your regular spin is low, then opt for one of the high-spin urethane covered balls. Conversely, if your normal spin is high, then consider playing a urethane covered ball that provides lower spin. If greenside control is not critical to you, perhaps spin with full irons should be the focus. If spin with full irons is important, look for a golf ball with a medium to low cover hardness. There are many golf balls that provide very good distance with soft feel, but do not confuse a soft feel with control around the greens. A ball that feels soft due to low core compression can still have a relatively hard cover that does not grip the higher lofted clubs.

As your skill progresses, you want choose a ball that has less spin. The two-layer ball might work for you. That will keep your hooks and slices to a minimum and help keep the ball going straight and true. Look for a ball that will give you greater ball flight with a hard cover. After your skill level has reached the point where you are playing more frequently and having some success, consider a two piece ball with low compression for longer distance and lower spin with a softer cover. If you play well and are a good golfer, use the multi-layer ball construction. The different layers enhance performance and add distance to long shots with more spin on those short pitches and chips around the green. Choose a lower spin ball if your natural trajectory is high and a higher spin ball if your natural trajectory is low. The high-spin “performance” balls will usually fly slightly shorter than “distance” balls, but with increased control.