Which golf balls are best?
Golf balls may all look alike to an outsider. But to a golfer, each ball has a set of playing and performing characteristics. Golfers can choose the ball they want to use when they play, and this allows them to pick the type that is best for them.
If you are looking for the best ball in amateur and professional golf, you will find it in the Titleist Pro V1, the golf ball preferred by serious golfers.
What to know before you buy a golf ball
Every reputable manufacturer follows rules regarding size, weight, shape and dimple configuration as set out by the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. Trick balls, novelty balls and outlawed balls are not allowed for tournament or league play. Choose a ball that is defined by the USGA or the R&A as “conforming.”
Conforming golf balls are made with up to five layers of material. The greater the number of layers, the better the golf ball will perform. The better the players, the more layers they want. Beginners and people who lose lots of golf balls should use balls with fewer layers because they will cost less.
One-layer balls are made of a solid mass of a single material like the ones you see at driving ranges and miniature golf courses. Commercial operators love them because they are durable and cheap.
Two-layer balls have a core of rubbery material inside the cover of a plastic-based shell. They are inexpensive and designed to go far.
Three-layer balls have a rubbery core and a plastic shell. Between those two layers, they have a thin layer of very soft or liquid rubber that allows the core and shell to act more independently of each other. This results in greater control along with greater distance.
Four-layer balls have two very soft inner layers that allow the amount and rate of spin to be combined in multiple ways so the balls have different spin characteristics.
Five-layer balls are the latest and greatest design and some of the world’s top players love them. Most golfers cannot tell the difference in feel and performance between three-, four- and five-layer balls.
What to look for in a quality golf ball
Distance vs. control
Most golf balls are built for distance. More accomplished golfers would rather play with a golf ball that allows them the kind of control they need to be really accurate with their scoring shots, which are the shorter shots around or on the green, like pitching, chipping and putting.
Those who wear logoed clothing and gear may gravitate toward golf balls made by their favorite brands. Name-brand labels will add to the price.
Traditionalists and old-school golfers love their white balls. Golfers of all ages and skill levels say colored golf balls are more fun to play with and harder to lose, which makes for a winning combination.
How much you can expect to spend on a golf ball
Most golf balls are sold in boxes of 12. You can also find value packs of 15-18 lower-end golf balls for less than $1 per ball. For $12-$25, you can get a dozen or so golf balls that give you distance and feel. Premium balls will cost $40-$70.
Golf ball FAQ
Why do golf balls have dimples?
A. These small indentations in the cover are aerodynamically designed to manage the flow of air around a golf ball. Balls with dimples have more lift, less drag and are more stable in flight. Manufacturers offer dimples with shapes and sizes that are designed to deliver different performance characteristics.
When golfers talk about “feel,” what do they mean?
A. All golf balls are made from materials with hard shells, but some shells are not as hard and yield just a bit when compressed by the swinging clubhead. The more you can squeeze a golf ball, the softer it is and the more “feel” it has.
What’s the best golf ball to buy?
Top golf ball
What you need to know: This is the golf ball of choice of professional golfers, top amateurs and serious golfers.
What you’ll love: The impressive consistency of performance from ball to ball is due to top-quality materials and outstanding craftsmanship. This three-piece ball is constructed to provide impressive distance and control. The trajectory penetrates the wind for long distances and the design of the ball provides stop-and-drop short game control.
What you should consider: The ability to do all things well comes at a high price.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top golf ball for the money
What you need to know: At one-fifth the cost of premium golf balls, this ball is great for golfers on a budget and golfers who lose a lot of balls.
What you’ll love: This ball is built for golfers who want to add distance to their drives. It is designed for high speed and low spin off the clubface. The 342 Aero dimple design provides low drag and low spin at high speed. This ball comes in classic white and optic yellow, which makes them easier to find.
What you should consider: This two-piece ball uses harder materials to go farther. Players who like softer balls for better short-game performance will not like their feel.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you want a soft, low-compression golf ball for enhanced short game performance, this is the ball for you.
What you’ll love: This two-piece ball’s hybrid cover is made of materials that provide a combination of greater distance off the tee and control around the greens. You can buy white balls or choose from green, orange and pink with matte finishes.
What you should consider: People who want to hit long tee balls don’t like how soft these balls feel.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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