As if the world of golf wasn’t confusing enough, professional tournaments and competitions come with their own set of strict rules to follow. Navigating them effectively can prove daunting to the uninitiated. For example, are oversized golf balls legal?
How would you even go about determining whether a certain golf product is suitable for a more serious round? This page serves as our guide to oversized golf balls. We’ll cover what oversized golf balls are, whether they’re legal, and how to double-check this kind of thing yourself.
Read on to get to the bottom of it all.
What Are Oversized Golf Balls?
Before we dive into their legality, it might be worth briefly discussing what oversized golf balls actually are. As the name suggests, oversized balls are significantly larger than their regular counterparts. They offer a larger surface area than a standard golf ball.
A wide variety of brands offer larger versions of their traditional golf balls. They’re not for everyone, but they can be an absolute Godsend if you’re the right player. Read on to see if they might be a good fit for you.
Why do People Use Oversized Golf Balls?
Oversized golf balls are more popular than many people expect. What’s more, it’s not just about their novelty either. Some golfers simply prefer to play with golf balls that are a little on the larger side.
We outline their main reasons for this below.
Successfully striking the ball without slicing or hooking is a huge component of finding success in the game. In this regard, using an oversized golf ball is hardly rocket science. It simply provides a larger target to hit, thereby making it significantly easier for players to get the shot they’re looking for.
Finding That ‘Sweet Spot’
If you want to lower your point average, you’ll have to do much more than just hit the ball. You’ll also have to strike it in its ‘sweet spot.’ Not so low that you hack a chunk of grass up with it and not so high that it doesn’t leave the ground.
Increasing the overall size of a golf ball also increases the size of its central ‘sweet spot.’ Provided they’re designed well, some players can find them significantly easier to play with on the course.
How to Tell if a Golf Ball is Legal
So, we’ve established what these golf balls are and why people love them, but how would one go about determining whether they’re legal? The good news here is that the process is more straightforward than many people think.
The USGA and R&A
If you’re playing professionally and have to play ‘by the book,’ these guys probably wrote said rule book. The USGA and R&A are responsible for maintaining the ‘sanctity’ of professional golf. They try their best to keep the game as fair as possible for everyone.
You’ll have to refer to their rules if you want to know if a particular golf ball is legal for more serious games.
The List of Conforming Golf Balls
If only there was a clear and simple list of the specific types of golf balls that are permitted for legal golf games. Guess what – there is! The List of Conforming Golf Balls was developed by the USGA and R&A and is updated once a week.
It’s surprisingly easy to access and should be your first port of call when determining what you can and cannot use on the course.
The Surprising Bottom Line – Are Oversized Golf Balls Legal?
If you’ve got any professional golf experience, you may be expecting quite a strict rule about size here. We don’t blame you either – the USGA and R&A normally run the tightest of ships.
In this instance, however, you may be surprised. Check out this quote pulled straight from the R&A’s website:
“The diameter of the ball must not be less than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm).
The official test protocol uses a metal ring gauge suspended in perspex. It is important to note that there is no maximum size, the ball can be as large as desired provided it conforms to all other standards.”
In short, your ball can’t be smaller than 1.680 inches but it can be as large as you’d like. It could be the size of a bowling ball if you really wanted – just don’t expect to ever actually sink the thing!
There are still a number of other standards your oversized ball will have to meet, but a larger size isn’t a criterion you’ll have to worry about.
Are Callaway Supersoft Magna Golf Balls Legal?
One of the most popular oversized balls out there are these from Callaway. They offer a super soft feel, a fantastic dimple pattern, and a surface area that’s 3% larger than a standard golf ball. The best news? They’re completely legal for professional tournaments!
As long as the committee for your competition doesn’t have their own super strict rules, you should be absolutely fine!
Golf Ball Checker
Wondering if your golf ball is legal for professional play? Looking at all the markings on its surface and scratching your head? You want this golf ball checker from the USGA. Just enter a few short details about your golf ball and find out whether it’s legal in just a few minutes!
Why Are USGA Rules Usually so Strict?
Outside of this rule about oversized balls, USGA rules are typically on the stricter side. Why? The answer is that they’re designed to keep professional games as fair as possible. The only thing that should influence a game of golf is the skill of the players on the course.
Specialist equipment or other approaches meant to give players an ‘edge’ can muddy the waters and make it unclear who actually deserves the win.
Are Oversized Golf Balls Legal? Final Thoughts
As long as they conform to all other USGA and R&A standards, oversized balls are legal for professional tournaments and competitions. If in doubt, consult the aforementioned institutions’ websites for more details – they’re surprisingly easy to navigate: