In the world of golf, the difference between success and failure will often come down to the little things. The subtlety of the game is perhaps one of its most interesting qualities. Merely wearing the wrong type of shoes or standing at the wrong angle can make a huge difference in your game.
With this subtlety in mind, we would like to examine a few of the best golf balls on the market. Our purpose is to help you, the reader, to make a more informed decision that may help you to shave a few more points from your game.
These products will be presented in no particular order, as we are not necessarily trying to rank them. Instead, we will present their strengths and weaknesses and allow you to make the decision.
The Middle Ground
|Titleist AVX Golf Balls|
The Speed Demon
|Callaway Chrome Soft Golf Balls|
The Composite All-Rounder
|TaylorMade TP5x Golf Balls|
The Cutting Edge
|Bridgestone Golf Tour B XS Golf Balls|
The Poor Man's Hybrid
|Srixon Men's Soft Feel Golf Ball|
We have come to expect quality from Titleist, and this ball is no exception. This is a case in which a company has made an effort to combine the advantages of both hard and soft balls. However, rather than trying to be an all-around choice, this company chose to make balls that are specifically designed for long-distance shots.
The tetrahedral pattern of the dimples is a trademark of this manufacturer and has been shown to produce lower wind resistance than most other patterns. Our only complaint is that the dimples of these balls are a little bit too shallow. Deeper dimples would allow for a greater boosting effect as the wind bounces off the concave surfaces. As long as we are making complaints, we are suspicious that this ball has tried to be a hybrid model instead of focusing on what matters.
These balls are very nice-looking and are sold in a patriotic soccer-ball theme. With a relatively soft outer casing and hard, high-compression core, this ball is made from the ground up for the distance. One thing we can’t help but notice is the way that the ball accelerates after being hit. The rate of acceleration seems to be a lot faster than normal, which is probably why we find this ball to be highly accurate.
You won’t break the bank on these balls, as they are relatively cheap. The only thing we don’t like is the way that the surface lays. Each dimple has raised edges which are obviously meant to give more depth. However, by creating all those semi-sharp raised edges, they are probably creating enough wind resistance to keep this ball from being as good as it could be.
This ball is well-balanced, and we can tell by the fact that it seems inclined to fly straight. Off-center hits don’t seem to drift as far, which means that this is a great ball for long shots. We do, however, have one more complaint about the surface. Some of the surfaces of this ball are smooth. Particularly, those little “soccer-ball” patches. Although it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference, there is no doubt that those smooth surfaces will produce drag and slow the ball at least a little bit.
This is possibly the most advanced ball on our list. The whole thing is composed of five layers, which is a bit more complex than most others. When it comes to the idea of “hybrid” balls, Taylormade really went all-in with this one. Everything about it is composite and hybridized.
For one thing, this ball has two casing layers. One of them is a harder material while the other is a softer material. This is meant to help the grooves of the club to attain maximal grip and transfer as much energy as possible to the ball. Like steel, these balls are hard but flexible.
We really like the consistency of these balls. No matter what club you pull out of the bag, it seems to work well with this model. However, the high speeds and fast acceleration that we see from this ball might make it problematic for beginners, and the strange feel might also throw a rookie off their game. Also, we might mention that these balls are a little bit on the expensive side. You will definitely need to use extra caution around water hazards when you play with one of these.
This one might well be described as a science experiment for the golf course. The company has included a number of features that supposedly give special advantages, like the dual dimples. The idea is simple on its face; inside each dimple, there is a second dimple that magnifies the effect of the first.
These balls also have a core that is meant to express its compression in stages rather than releasing all its rebound at one time. This graded response is meant to provide superior distance, and most users agree that it can do so. The company also touts the seamless cover as another way to reduce wind resistance and deliver slightly better performance.
Some users have said that these balls have a raised line on one side. Obviously, this would be the result of improper joining between two pieces. Although only a few people have made these claims, they call into question some of the company’s claims. If the design is as “seamless” as they say, why would people be reporting problems with popped seams? Such a pattern suggests that the manufacturer isn’t being completely honest with their customers.
This one might be described as the poor man’s hybrid. It makes an attempt to capture the easy and forgiving feel of a softer ball, while at the same time trying to maintain the advantages of a stiffer ball. Regardless of whether or not this ball delivers maximum performance, it deserves a place on our list because it serves as a cheap, all-around model that can serve the needs of most people.
On the downside, these balls are made overseas with cheap foreign labor, which means that their quality level is not going to be as high as we would like. It also brings up some ethical concerns which might be an issue for you. As they say; “you get what you pay for.” Still, if all you need is something cheap and easy, this ball is for you.
Now that you have seen a few good examples, let’s consider some of the essential information that you will need to know in order to select the ball that fits your style. We will do this by evaluating the qualities of a golf ball, one by one.
There are several different substances that can be used to cover a golf ball, and the composition of the cover will affect performance. Originally, golf balls were covered in a rubbery material called balata. Made from the sap of a tropical tree, balata made for an incredibly soft cover that was ideal for advanced players. Of course, balls of this type were not particularly durable.
These days, a golf ball will usually be covered in one of two materials: Surlyn or urethane. Urethane has taken the place of the old balata ball, offering a softer coating that is well-suited for advanced players. But you may ask: why does it matter?
It matters because a golf ball will always warp and deform on impact. This deformation happens too quickly to see with the naked eye and doesn’t last very long. However, the way that the ball deforms will have a big effect on the way that it flies. Balls with softer covers tend to pick up more spin, allowing a greater degree of control for those players with enough skill to use this advantage.
The majority of balls are made for less advanced players and are usually covered in a material called Surlyn. Surlyn is a resin that does a good job of protecting the interior layers of the ball from damage. This resin is used because it is both very durable and very easy to mold. For most players, these are the standard option.
You’ve probably wondered what’s inside a golf ball on at least one occasion. The answer is that every brand and ball is likely to be a little bit different. Manufacturers have tried many different compositions in the never-ending quest for the perfect ball.
Cheap driving range balls are usually just a solid chunk of material. Most often, it will be the same material of which the cover is made. Mostly, these balls are just hunks of Surlyn. Others are made in layers to provide specific qualities. These multi-layer balls might or might not give you superior results. Some people swear by them, while some other golfers avoid them like the plague.
If you are going for long-distance shots, you should remember this rule: The more solid the ball is, the less spin it will have. That lack of spin translates to a smooth, straight flight. As anyone familiar with basic aerodynamics can tell you, a spinning ball provides a certain amount of wind resistance. A spinning ball can be aimed accurately because of a phenomenon called spin-stabilization. However, it will never get the same distance as a low-spin ball. With this rule in mind, you should avoid soft and liquid-core balls.
According to some scientists, a golf ball with a smooth surface would only travel about half the distance of a normal golf ball. You may have thought that the contoured surface of a golf ball was intended only to provide good grip, but those dimples are actually very crucial.
As an object travels through the air, friction is produced via the interaction between the air and the surface. By adding dimples, we can reduce the surface area and thus reduce the friction created by the wind. So, how does this matter for you?
It matters because not all golf balls are alike. Some will have deeper dimples, some will have more or fewer dimples, and some will have more distance between them. In general, a golfer who wants to maximize their distance should go for a ball with more dimples, deeper dimples, and less space between them.
You might be wondering how to measure these things. No, you don’t have to sit there with a micrometer and measure the dimples, nor do you have to count them. Just hold a standard golf ball in one hand as you hold the ball that you are evaluating in your other hand. Looking at them (side-by-side) should give you a good estimate regarding the number and depth of the dimples.
Used Or New?
You may have heard about “lake balls”. These are used golf balls that are recovered from the water hazards of various golf courses. As you can imagine, the golf course ponds tend to accumulate a lot of balls, and they eventually have to be removed. Once removed, those balls which have not deteriorated will probably be re-sold at a low price.
Since this article is meant for the golfer who seeks maximum distance, we must recommend that you avoid lake balls and all other refurbished balls. Many tests have been done on this subject, and most of them agree that pre-owned balls will not fly as far. The authors of this study found that there was a significant decrease in the travel distance when they switched to the lake balls. This difference was particularly large for the high-skill players.
When you hear someone talk about the compression of a golf ball, they are basically referring to its springiness. When a springy surface is stacked with a club, it results in a “rebound” effect as the ball tries to return to its original shape. This effect can be used to create a little bit of launching power.
In spite of this slight power increase, the soft and springy golf balls do not tend to travel nearly as far as the harder ones. While the springiness of a low-compression ball can be an aid for beginners or physically handicapped players, a high-compression ball is needed for those who want maximum distance.
It should be noted that there is no such thing as a ball for everyone. Each player has their particular habits and their particular way of doing things, and no one ball will meet the needs of every player. As such, we encourage you to experiment and find the balls that give you the best results. You can sit here and look at statistics and reviews all day, but that will only give you a general idea of the situation.
The only way to really find out which golf ball is right for you is to do the obvious thing…get out there and play as much as possible. Borrow or trade balls with your friends on the course so that both of you can try something new. By doing this, we hope that you can take your game to the next level and achieve a level of excellence about which you have only been able to dream.