We think golf is an incredible hobby, but there’s plenty of snake oil out there that you’ll have to navigate when shopping. Many golf ball manufacturers make lofty claims about the performance enhancing features of their products. Do different golf balls really make a difference?
On this page, we’ll find out. We’ll be discussing how much water these claims hold, the various factors that can impact golf ball performance, and how to find a golf ball that works best for your experience and play style.
Read on to find the best option for you.
The Bottom Line – Do Different Golf Balls Really Make a Difference?
Yes, absolutely! A premium golf ball isn’t going to make a beginner play like a pro, but there are myriad factors that can influence how a golf ball behaves on the course. Producing golf balls that are accurate and aerodynamic enough to perform well is actually quite a complex task.
A huge amount of research and engineering goes into the USA’s most popular golfing products. In the section below, we explore the various factors that matter. The more clued up you get about this now, the easier it will be to avoid disappointment later on.
The Factors That Influence Golf Ball Performance
Right, let’s get into it! The factors below all influence the behavior of a golf ball on the course. As your experience and skill level grow, you’ll soon get to grips with the types of golf balls that work best for you.
Understanding what can influence things early on will help you hone your skill and technique as a player.
When you strike a golf ball with your club, it ‘squeezes’ in on itself slightly before being launched into the air. This transfer of energy is what determines the ball’s flight path and distance. The easier it is to compress a golf ball, the less work you’ll have to do to launch it from the tee box.
You’ll want to look out for a ‘low compression’ rating if this is a priority for you. Those with more experience will benefit from higher compression golf balls. They offer superior levels of control than their lower compression counterparts.
The hardness of the materials used to make your golf ball are more important than you might expect – they influence the compression rating for a given golf ball. Softer balls tend to be much easier to compress and are therefore easier to send longer distances.
They can also be more forgiving for beginner players. Harder golf balls will prove challenging to use if you’re a complete novice but can help some pros maintain an edge on the course.
The small dimples you see scattered across your golf ball aren’t just there for decoration – they play a huge role in how it travels through the air. Their depth, size, and placement are all hugely important.
Golf ball manufacturers put a huge amount of time and effort into developing dimple patterns that influence the flight paths of their products. They even patent their most successful ones.
The dimple pattern used by a given golf ball can make a dramatic difference to the way it behaves on the course. Keep an eye out for the different varieties available when shopping.
Number of Pieces
Golf balls are rarely made from just one lump of material. You’ll only find this kind of design with novelty or practice balls. When you’re buying a tournament-ready golf ball, you’ll be dealing with either a two, three, four, or even five piece design.
We’ve already covered the importance of golf ball compression higher up on this page. Suffice it to say that the number of pieces used in a golf ball’s construction plays a huge role in how it behaves.
Two piece balls tend to compress more easily and five piece balls, while rarer, are usually reserved for more experienced players. If you’re new to the game, we recommend sticking to two or three piece balls.
You might be surprised to learn that the USGA and R&A have no upper limit on the size of golf balls used in professional games. This means that some golfers prefer to play with oversized golf balls.
The size of a golf ball can play a big role in how it performs during a game. For starters, a larger surface area makes it significantly easier for some players to strike it successfully. Secondly, its aerodynamics will inevitably be affected by its extra mass.
The weight of an object inevitably influences the way it travels through the air. The speed, distance, spin, and myriad other factors related to your golf ball’s flight path are all impacted by its weight.
This is one reason that different golf balls really do make a difference. Switching from something that’s a little on the lighter side to a weighted golf ball could certainly change a player’s point average.
What Golf Ball Should Beginners Use?
We have two recommendations here – check them out below.
While usually not favored for more serious games, practice golf balls can be a great way for new players to get to grips with their technique. They tend to ‘magnify’ errors in your swing and help you identify areas for improvement.
The Characteristics of a Beginner’s Golf Ball
In general, try to find a golf ball with the following characteristics:
- Low compression rating
- Forgiving dimple pattern
Don’t waste your money on “ultra-premium” products when you’re first starting out. You’ll only be able to take advantage of these “pro level” features once you’ve actually got a few games under your belt.
Do Different Golf Balls Really Make a Difference? Conclusion
In short, yes. The golf balls you use can certainly make a difference in the outcome of a game. The softness, compression rating, size, and several other factors of a golf ball can all play a huge role in how it performs on the course.