Does the type of golf ball you play make any difference to your game?
When I first started playing golf it didn’t matter which golf ball I used. I bought whatever was the cheapest ball on the rack. Better than that, I often used golf balls I found on the course. A lot of players do just that. Some even brag that they never buy golf balls because they find so many under trees, leaves and bushes while playing. I’m just as bad. I’ve even attempted to play with balls I saved from the driving range. You know, the bright yellow ones with the solid black stripe and the text that reads: RANGE BALL. They never work out very well.
I’m not a good enough player that the ball I use really improves my game. But I am a good enough player that the ball I use can really screw up my game. In other words, I need all the help I can get and if that means choosing a decent ball that works for my style of play, then I’ll cough up the $8 or $10 a sleeve and buy a golf ball I can actually hit.
But what makes the difference? What are the different types of balls that are currently on the market and how do I choose which one is right for me?
I’ve been doing some research and am surprised to find that there are multiple types of ball construction… and each gives a the golfer a different “feel” when the ball is hit. Distance, flight, spin, are all determined by the ball’s core. They all have to be regulation size but the number and pattern of dimples on the outside can vary. It’s what’s inside that makes the biggest difference.
Beginning in 1900 with the invention by John Gammeter of the first automatic winding machine, golf balls were mass produced with a rubber core, surrounded by rubber bands and then covered with a solid cover of something called Balata. Manufacturing has evolved since then and today’s golf balls can be of one-piece construction, two piece, multi-layers, and even four-piece balls. In each case different materials surround an inner core and depending on how hard or soft those materials are, balls react very differently.
The Bottom Line:
Here’s some basic advice I have discovered: if you are an absolute beginner at golf, then the ball you choose is not that critical. Because you are likely to lose a few during every round, buy the least expensive, or use found balls or buy recycled balls in bulk from your local golf store. Once you stop losing balls on a regular basis, then you can step up!
- 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 promises to give you greater ball flight and a hard cover. Some to consider: Callaway Warbird, Top-Flite XL, or the Wilson Ultra.
- After you have moved to the point where you are playing more frequently and having some success, you might consider a two piece ball with low compression. Longer distance and lo-spin, with a softer cover, these are great balls for a player with a slow to moderate swing speed. Try the Maxfli Noodle, Precept Laddie Xtreme or the Titleist DT SoLo and see how you do. If you are looking for even more distance try the Titleist NXT or NXT Tour ball.
- And finally, if you are playing well and consider yourself in the “advanced” crowd, test out balls that use the multi-layer construction. The different layers enhance performance and add distance to long shots and more spin on those short pitches and chips around the green. The balls in this category cost the most, but if they give you the extra edge you need to win a round, the cost is worth it. Consider these balls: Titleist Pro V1, Pro V1x, Nike One Platinum, Callaway Golf HX Tour or Bridgestone Golf Tour B330.
There are many other brands to choose from beyond what I mention here. Manufacturers are always trying to improve their products. In fact, this spring 2010, I heard of what some are calling the best ball out there for advanced players. It’s the SRIXON Z-Star. It’s YELLOW!!! (a color the guys used to call “girlie” and would never play.) Well, it’s getting rave reviews from the pros. If you’re ready for it, try it. And let us know what you think. Add a comment in the section below.
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What’s Inside a golf ball anyway? This video will give you a clue.
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