Choosing the Right Golf Ball For Your Game
I’ve heard a lot of recreational golfers say that it doesn’t matter which golf ball they play. They are just as happy playing with a ball they found in the bushes as they are playing a ball they received as a gift. No preference at all. Except perhaps for the color. (Some real traditionalists won’t play with a pink or yellow ball no matter what.)
That may be ok if all you want to do is play golf for fun, but if you are really interested in improving as you play, and dropping your score and your GHIN, then your choice of golf ball really is important.
Let me tell you why.
If every time you play a round of golf you play with a different brand of ball, you take a chance on hitting inconsistent shots. You can’t reliably predict how that ball is going to react when it hits the fairway or the green, especially if it’s a found ball that might have a knick or two from hitting a tree or being badly mishit. (That little knick can throw off the dynamic flight just enough to land you in the lake.) I don’t want to argue the point here, as there’s a lot to be said about saving $$ using found balls, and recycling old balls can be good for the environment.
But… if you play the same ball every time you play, you know how the ball is going to react every time you hit it. This is especially true when you are within 100 yards of the green.
Here are a few facts I’ve discovered:
- Every golf ball from the top manufacturers will go just about the same distance off the tee. Each may claim that their ball goes farther, faster, whatever. The truth is they all go the same distance, give or take 4 – 5 yards. If you were to hit a drive using 10 different balls from 10 different manufacturers each one would go just about the same distance. (View the Slide Show from GolfDigest 2013 Hot List: Golf Balls to compare top brands. Read the reviews from GolfBallTest.org for the results of independent testing.)
- The difference in golf ball performance becomes clear when you are only 100 yards from the green.
- At this distance, your best choice of golf ball is determined by how you pitch, chip and putt, i.e. the short game! Do you want your ball to go high, drop and stop (you’ll need to buy a ball with a lot of spin), or do you prefer to hit in front of the green and let your ball roll up to the hole?
Last week I had a long conversation with an expert from Titleist. He shared with me a lot of information and gave me samples from their full line of balls to test. Each one performs a little differently within that 100 yards from the green.
I decided to conduct a small test. I invited a couple of golfing friends to test all six balls from the Titleist line by chipping and putting on a local practice ground. Could they tell the difference in each ball’s performance? Could they predict the results and prepare each shot accordingly? How did each ball feel off the club? Was there a definite difference? And if so, did they have a preference for one ball over another?
Both golfers were surprised to discover real differences in feel and performance. Before the short experiment was done they each had a favorite ball.
You can do your own test online! Titleist has a great Golf Ball Fitting App on their web site: Just answer each of the questions and the program will suggest a ball that’s right for your game. I’m sure other manufacturers have similar programs to help you choose the right ball for your game. Do a quick search on google for “Golf Ball Fitting.”
Bottom Line: the golf ball you choose to play with does make a difference to your score. If you’re serious about improving, do a little research, test out a few golf balls, and buy a few sleeves. When you find a ball that works for you, stay with it for at least six rounds. You’ll be surprised how much your game improves when you can rely on your golf ball to perform.
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What do you think? Do you have a favorite golf ball? Do you think it matters? Leave your comment in the space below.