Which Golf Ball Should You Use?
Using the right golf ball when you're out on the course can have an immense impact on your scorecard. To the untrained eye, golf balls may all look the same, but each model has its own specifications and innovative components.
From two-piece golf balls to five-piece models, there is a specific golf ball that will be best catered to your style of play. The goal of this guide is to help you understand which golf ball is best for you and why it is the best one.
The following golf ball guide will help you understand:
- How golf balls are made and how they work
- How the different golf ball models perform on the course
- Which golf ball model is best for you and why
What is the anatomy of a golf ball?
First off, it is important to appreciate the technological marvel that is the modern golf ball. We are centuries away from beech balls with inconsistent flight. Nowadays, urethane skins and synthetic resin core are the main components inside a golf ball.
Golf balls are composed of:
- A core
- A mantle
- Additional layers
The core is at the center of the golf ball and will be the key to how your ball will perform on the golf course. Most cores will be made of a rubber alloy with each company using a specific recipe for their cores to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Big brands have specific names for their cores and these will vary based on the products that make up the core, as well as how hard or how soft the core is.
In a two-piece golf ball, the core will be wrapped by a molded layer, which will also serve as its mantle. Surlyn, which is the product that serves as the cover for two-piece golf balls, is much more resistant to damage than the typical urethane cover of most golf balls.
For most golf balls, however, the cover will wrap around the layers that surround the core and will be made of a thin layer of urethane covered with strategically placed dimples to create as smooth a ball flight as possible.
Nowadays, the layer surrounding the core of the golf ball is mostly made from another rubber alloy, which aims to transfer the power of your club strike to the core with more ease than with traditional two-piece golf balls.
In the past, these layers used to be made from wrapped rubber strings, which would promote a lot more explosiveness off the clubface, but control was slightly affected with this type of composition.
With the release of the TP5 golf balls a few years ago, TaylorMade officially marketed the first five-piece golf ball. Their intent was to maximize distance off the tee, while still providing a lot of spin around the greens.
The one constant amongst multi-layered golf balls is that the layers will become progressively harder to better transfer the energy of the club strike to the core, but also provide it more spin and better sensations at impact.
Does the type of golf ball make a difference?
Your choice of golf ball will have an impact on your results on the golf course. It’ll most likely have a very minor effect on your scorecard or your overall performance. Indeed, even if you get fitted for the right golf ball, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be shaving off some strokes.
The main difference will be with your feel for the ball at impact. Having the right feel at impact will inevitably have a terrific impact on your performance but having the wrong golf ball in your bag is not a death sentence either.
In terms of the different golf balls, you’ll clearly be able to observe a difference in performance between each category of golf balls. However, it must be said that unless you have a very powerful swing, the effects will be harder to observe as the pressure on the core will not be as important.
What are the different types of golf balls?
If they're all made from the same components, what makes the golf balls so different from one another? Not every company opts for the same blend of materials or the same number of layers around their core. This creates a classification amongst the various golf balls.
The most notable types of golf balls are:
- Tour Performance
- Tour Value
- Straight Distance
- Soft Distance
Tour performance golf balls are the top golf balls on the market. They are the same models of golf balls that your favorite golfers will be using on TV. From ProV1s to the TP5s and the Z-Star Diamonds, these high-quality golf balls are just as good for you as they are for them.
These balls will usually be equipped with the best technologies that these companies have to offer and are designed to maximize performance in every situation on the golf course. Additionally, these models come in different specifications which will be best catered to the preferences of the players.
Tour value golf balls are very similar to tour performance golf balls in terms of performance. Indeed, these balls are designed to offer performance that is slightly inferior to the tour performance golf balls, for a fraction of the price.
You’re not likely to find one of these golf balls in the bag of your favorite pro golfer, but the tour value golf balls will deliver very similar performances. The only difference is that you will not need to take out a loan to load up on these golf balls.
The straight-distance golf balls are designed to help beginners and less experienced golfers to keep their ball in front of them and prevent it from escaping into hazards, the wood or any body of water.
These balls are also designed to help golfers with slower swing speeds to gain distance off the tee with their driver swings.
The soft distance golf balls are going to be a favorite amongst beginners and older golfers. These golf balls are designed to respond better to golfers with a slower swing speed. These “softer” golf balls are not literally softer to the touch.
Rather, their namesake comes from the soft core of the ball, which again, is designed to respond better to slower swing speed than tour performance golf balls, in turn, making them a better, and more affordable alternative, to the tour performance golf balls.
Two, three, four, or five layers – which should you choose?
The size of golf balls is limited by the Rules of golf, but they still perform differently from one model to the next. Some models will be wrapped with more layers around the core than others, while some will have a softer feel at impact than others.
Three-piece golf balls
Most balls will be made out of three pieces. This refers to the layers used in the manufacturing process of the ball. The three-piece will usually include a large synthetic core, a thin mantel covering the core, and the exterior coat, usually made out of urethane.
One of the most famous three-piece models on the market right now is the Titleist Pro V1. It’s also the most popular golf ball amongst PGA Tour players.
Four-piece golf balls
Some manufacturers even pushed the boundaries further by adding an extra layer to their balls, thus creating the four-piece ball. This ball adds an extra layer over the core creating the extra piece. Some Srixon and Bridgestone golf ball models are now equipped with an extra layer around the core.
Five-piece golf balls
The people at TaylorMade have pushed the bar even further with the release of their TP5x golf balls with five layers. This is their latest attempt to protect the core from any disturbance at impact. Incredibly, they’ve managed to maintain ball speed, despite the added layer on the golf ball.
New vs recycled golf balls – what's best?
When shopping for golf balls, you'll be faced with a key choice between two high-quality options. The first is brand-new golf balls right out of the box with four sleeves neatly filled with three balls each. The second is recycled golf balls that have been retrieved, reconditioned, and repainted, for a fraction of the price of the new ones.
Brand-new golf balls
The greatest perk of using brand-new golf balls is that you’ll be sure that this ball will not have any flaws to it. Each golf ball is carefully tested by the manufacturers before being sent out to retailers everywhere to guarantee their quality.
Plus, with brand new golf balls, you’ll be sure that the core is still powerful at impact and that the skin shell of the ball will be in optimal condition to maximize spin on impact.
Brand-new golf balls, unsurprisingly, come with the steepest price tags on the market, especially if you’re buying the top ball from the best manufacturers. Don’t disregard more affordable models as they can be just as good, for a fraction of the price.
Fortunately for golfers on a budget, there’s an option that’s even more affordable than these cheaper models.
Recycled golf balls
Used golf balls are an underappreciated solution to the high cost of brand-new golf balls. More often than not, you will be able to find the top-tier balls you’ve been looking for when shopping for used golf balls. But you’ll most likely end up paying around half of the money you would be spending on a brand-new dozen. On top of being cheaper than new balls, used balls will perform just as well.
The differences between the new and used balls will only be minor. This is because used balls will normally receive a fresh coat of paint and their quality will be tested and certified by experts before being returned on the market.
Also, choosing used golf balls is a conscious choice for the environment as it is estimated that more than 300 million golf balls are lost in the wild every year.
How should you pick your golf ball based on your needs?
Understanding your needs from a golf ball will make a great difference in your final choice. As mentioned above, the softness of the ball will have an important impact on your game. Nonetheless, it is also important to take into account your needs and means of purchase.
Here are three key points to keep in mind when choosing a golf ball. The singular nomenclature of “a golf ball” is used because whichever model you pick, you should stick to it and shape your game around it.
Here's what you should ask yourself when picking the right golf ball:
- Do you want to gain more distance or do you prefer to keep more control over your ball?
- Do you want to focus on spin and speed around the greens or do you want to focus on control when you’re close to the pin?
- What is your golf ball budget and how many balls do you tend to lose over the course of a season?
Last but not least, make sure to keep in mind that weather will also have an impact on your ball’s performance. A cold climate will definitely impact your ball’s trajectory. The difference in distance will usually only vary by a yard per change of 10 degrees, but we think it is still important to take into account when you’re looking to really step up your game.
Remember, the hotter the better when hitting a golf ball. Driving off the tee in 100 degrees heat can help you gain 10 yards over hitting that same ball at 40 degrees. Just a little tip to keep in mind for our northern friends.
Golf balls recommendations from our experts
If you are looking for a very compact ball that will get you the most distance possible off the tee here are your best options:
- TaylorMade TP5x
- Titleist Pro V1
- Srixon Z Star XV
If you’re a golfer looking for more control and a better feel of the ball, here are some options for you:
- Callaway Chrome Soft
- TaylorMade Soft Response
Fortunately for the golfers up north, Golf Avenue has a solution for you when it comes to playing in cold weather. Colored golf balls are easier to spot amongst the leaves or the snow. These models should be perfect for these conditions:
- TaylorMade Neon Matte
- TaylorMade Noodle Neon
- Wilson Staff Mix Color
If you need more help, or if you have any golf-related questions, you can always reach out to our customer service team or set up a call with our in-house expert for additional advice on how to pick the right golf ball for you.
Until next time,
The Golf Avenue Team
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