Many golfers absolutely swear by their favorite brand of equipment. Golf, more than almost any other sport, is famous for commanding a high price for its gear. Good gear is important, but past a certain point, is there a point of diminishing returns for how much you spend? Does it matter which golf balls you use, for instance, when you are a relative beginner versus when you are a consummate player? Sports equipment companies will tell you it does matter. But do you believe the hype?
Experts and pros say that the right ball can make a big difference in your gameplay in certain circumstances. Golf Digest has a good tool to help you figure out which ball best fits your golf game.
Specifically-designed balls can’t change your swing, but playing with the right ball can help mitigate issues like a slice or too-fast greens. So while the exact brand might not make all the difference, the quality and type of balls you choose really can.
Most of the golf balls currently on the market all fit into one of three types:
Most golf balls on the shelf are two-piece balls made with a hard rubber core and a plastic outer cover. The performance of the ball can be altered by adjusting the “the size of the core, the compression of the core, and the softness of the cover,” according to Golfballguide.com. These two-piece balls can be very forgiving to slow swings or slices.
Three or four piece performance balls
Also called “tour balls,” these are best for excellent golfers with a fast swing. A sometimes “dual core” combined with a “mantle layer” of material, along with an outer cover made from urethane, makes these balls less forgiving. However, they can sit down on a dime — perfect if your drive precision is spot-on.
Three-piece hybrid balls
Similar to the way a hybrid club promises to mix the best parts of a wood with the best parts of an iron, the dual core “hybrid ball” attempts to combine forgiveness and spin control with performance.
But are new balls any better than old balls?
Yes, but not all that much better. Golf Advisor recommends breaking out a “new sleeve” of balls if you’re playing in something serious, like a tournament, but not if you’re just playing your regular weekend round. According to testing, the actual difference in performance between lightly used balls and new ones is pretty low.
So why not buy your favorite kind of ball used and get it much more cheaply? Sometimes your local pro shop will have some used balls for sale, but there’s a more efficient way to get them.
Lostgolfballs.com is the largest online retailer of used golf balls and is our top choice. It has a high customer satisfaction rating, a good selection and really good prices. By “harvesting” used balls found in the water hazards and woody areas of thousands of courses around the country, this company can sell you your favorite kind of ball at a much cheaper price. Sorters place balls according to type and the shape they are in. Pristine, like-new balls are more expensive than the slightly banged-up variety, for instance, which can be scooped up at a deep discount.
What’s the most popular and most often purchased kind of used ball? Titleist Pro V1’s, according to Golf Advisor. And since this is one of the best-selling new balls on the market, it’s not hard to see why that’s true.
— C. Pedroja