I know that choosing the best golf ball for your game is very personal. It has to be —! It’s your swing, your hands, your club… it’s all about you and how you play the game of golf. But with all the golf balls to choose from and all the hype around which is best, which goes further… it can be a real jungle of choices. And how will you know if you’ve got the right ball anyway?
Last year the Titleist ball fitter showed up at my home golf course. These guys travel all over the country inviting avid amateur golfers to try out their latest products. I’d been playing with whatever I found in the woods, but I thought it might be worth it to get some free advice from a pro. Besides, they were handing out free samples, and who can say no to a sleeve of brand new, bright, white golf balls?
The fitter had set up all his equipment at the driving range and the nearby practice green. Golfers were invited to test all the ball samples and the fitter helped evaluate each golfer’s performance. The focus was on those shots that are the most important in scoring— the chips, pitches and putts.
It took about a half hour for me to go through the fitting. I admit I was nervous and hit a few shots that went far astray. Even so, the fitter could tell from the way I hit the ball, and how the different balls responded, which ball would probably work best for my particular swing. I never thought a ball choice could matter so much.
This is what I learned and what I think you should know: No matter which golf ball you choose to play with, you should stick with just one type, and one manufacturer. Skip the balls you find in the ponds, the high grass and under the bushes. Use ’em for the driving range, but don’t use them in a round of golf. Why? Because every golf ball really is different. They may look the same but they are not. And the differences can make a major difference to your score.
I decided to try a test of my own on a few of my golfing friends and asked the fitter for a bunch of samples — a sleeve or two of each type ball. At first my friends didn’t think their ball choice would matter and were resistant to taking the test. So I promised they could keep all the balls they tested which convinced them it was worth participating. And surprise! After spending an hour or so chipping and putting with the different balls and really focusing on how each ball played, they changed their minds.
Here’s the result: If you always play with the same golf ball, you can predict how the ball will respond to the way you play. You lessen the surprise factor— and this is especially true around the greens.
- A soft covered golf ball like a “Noodle” will play very differently off your wedge than a Titleist Pro V1 which has a hard cover. The ball “pops” sharply off the Pro V1. If you don’t know that, your golf ball will skid straight across the green and end up on the other side, buried deep in the rough.
- If you play the same stroke off your wedge with a soft covered ball and then with a ball with a hard cover, you’ll immediately experience a major difference in feel and distance.
- If you are always playing with a different ball, it’ll be harder to predict the results.
Which golf ball is best for you?
If you’re in a serious hunt for the best ball this season, here are a few that were featured at the PGA Show. Buy a sleeve of each and play a round or two to decide if any beat your current ball for feel and distance.
Bridgestone, has the corner on golf ball fitting (a niche they are really exploiting to their benefit!) They currently (as of 1/15) have an online ball selection guide you can use to determine the best ball to match your specific style of play. Click here to get started. They measure your driver distance, average score, shot shape and trajectory, and take into account your gender and age… and you end up with Bridgestone Golf Ball that should be perfect for you. Of course they want you to buy their product, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy a sleeve and compare their ball to the one you are currently playing. Especially if you chose your current ball for no particular reason except you liked the color!
Titleist without question is the #1 ball out there. They claim they’ve improved their top of the line PRO V1 and PRO V1x “The new Pro V1® and Pro V1x™ deliver extraordinary distance and consistent flight. And there’s more short game control, even softer feel and long-lasting durability.” They are following Bridgestone’s example and now have an on-line ball fitting tool so you can discover which of their golf balls fits your style of play. Click here to start the fitting. (Editor’s note: the Titleist golf ball fitting tool is not as comprehensive as the one from Bridgestone… but it is worth checking out.)
Finally, check out the KICK X TOUR-Z Golf Ball… This is the ball with the Metal Fuzion Core…. long distance and soft feel. They were really pushing this ball during the PGA show and have an online offer where you can buy a dozen of the balls for $39.95 with a 30 day money back guarantee… if you don’t like ’em you don’t pay. (Note: this is an auto-fill program, which is nice if you like their balls and want a steady supply coming your way – but otherwise…?)
What I do like about the KICK X is the proprietary Z-Aline System… 3 lines printed on the ball so you can line up your putts precisely. Of course, you can always use a magic marker. 🙂
Bottom Line: What ball are you using? Are you satisfied? Want to try out a new product just to see if a change would improve your game?
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