Do golf balls make a difference?

Yes, golf balls matter! But your individual skill level and swing speed should dictate which ball you pick. Many golfers play golf with cheaper golf balls and don’t actually see a big difference.

I believe consistency is incredibly important. Do your research and pick the best golf ball for your game and preferences, then stick with it. There are plenty of great cheaper balls on the market, read more on those here.

How to choose a golf ball

Playing with the wrong golf ball can significantly effect the distance you get off the tee. There are several factors to consider when selecting a golf ball.

  1. Your preference on feel. Do you prefer a softer golf ball or do you like a firmer ball?

  2. Are you looking for high spin golf balls for greenside control? Or, would you rather have a low spin ball?

  3. Trajectory is another factor. Some balls launch higher than others and a higher trajectory can lead to more distance.

  4. What is your level of accuracy? Some golf balls offer a more straight ball flight.

  5. What is your swing speed? Golf balls perform differently based on swing speeds.

  6. Price, perhaps one of the most important factors. Most average golfers will not notice much of a difference with a premium golf ball versus cheaper balls.

Cartoon man holding a giant pencil with checkboxes next to him in a checklist format.

Thats a long list of factors to consider. We have made it very easy for you to find the right golf ball. I created a golf ball selector tool. It’s basically a free online ball fitting!

Expensive golf balls are not what they’re always cracked up to be!

What do I do next?

Pick one of the top 3 balls that are recommended from the tool. Either buy a dozen, or if you are not sure, buy a sleeve at your local pro shop.

Take them out to the putting green, see how they feel on your putter. Then hit some chip shots. Find a hole where you can do some practice without holding up other golfers. Hit 3 of them from 150 yards, 100 yards, 75 yards, then 25 yards.

Note how the ball feels and spin control. Then go hit some with your driver. Now, this is an area that you may need some optimization however. Different golf balls can have significantly different spin rates.

So you may need to make some adjustments to loft based on the distances you are seeing from your drives. As long as you are hitting the ball straight, anyway. It’s fairly easy to make the quick changes and see how much distance improves.

Don’t mess with your driver loft if you are hitting range balls, you should optimize your club using the ball you’ll use on the golf course.

If you like the ball, great, problem solved! If it’s not the right golf ball, give one of the others a try. Feedback on the recommendations has been overwhelmingly positive. I’d love to hear how it goes for you if you try it though.

Difference between cheap and expensive golf balls?

Cheap balls are usually designed for a high handicap player losing a lot of balls when he goes to the course.

Cheaper golf balls offer performance off the tee or around the green, but there is rarely a product offering both.

An expensive golf ball, typically referred to as a performance ball, will offer performance in all areas.

The number of dimples on a golf ball really has no correlation to price.

A lot of the cost difference really comes down to golf ball construction. There is also a direct correlation to overall performance as the various layers in the golf ball effect flight, spin, and feel.

Cheaper balls are typically two piece golf balls. Balls that are a bit more expensive, but not on the high end, will often times be a three piece ball. Four piece and five piece golf balls are your premium ball.

The average golfer really can get great performance out of a three piece ball. I have personally used premium golf balls and some of the cheapest balls on the market. They really made no difference in my game.

I did however, find it incredibly important to play with a consistent ball. I get used to its spin control, distances for each of my clubs, and overall feel around the greens. There can be a big difference when you switch balls.

So in my experience, more expensive golf balls make little difference in my score. BUT, constantly playing random balls that you may have picked up on the course can be extremely detrimental.

A golfer, after hitting his ball in the water, tries to retrieve it using a golf club.

I think this guy lost an expensive ProV1!

Are lake balls and refurbished balls good?

This is kind of a mixed bag and ultimately a gamble. Some lake balls may perform really well, while others may be terrible.

Often times these balls are painted to look new, but the quality of the paint may not be a consistent finish. This can cause issues with ball flight and putting control.

Lake balls can also become waterlogged causing them to be “dead”. The problem is you really don’t know what you are getting. Most golf balls that are pulled out of a lake are never actually tested for weight. They are simply cleaned off and sold.

USGA rules state that a golf ball can weigh no more than 1.62 ounces. I have weighed tons of golf balls, mostly out of curiosity. Here is a lake ball that I personally pulled out of the pond.

Top Flite ball on a scale weighing 1.63 ounces.

Most balls that are new come in around 1.61. Obviously this is not a significant weight difference, but it is absolutely enough to effect performance.

I have a couple dozen balls that were pulled out of the same pond. I went through about half of them weighing out of curiosity. Over 90% of them weighed more than the allowed 1.62 ounces.

Besides, you can actually buy brand new golf balls that are not too much more expensive. If you looked at my cheap golf balls post referenced at the beginning of this article, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

How do cheap golf balls compare to expensive ones?

Generally, cheap golf balls can get you just as much distance off the tee. You don’t need to spend $50 on a dozen balls to hit it 300 yards. In fact, you can hit the cheapest golf balls on the market 300 yards. I’ve personally tested it.

That’s TWO DOZEN balls for that price!

And yes, I can hit these 300 yards!

One of the biggest differences however is – you typically have to pick your poison with a cheaper ball. If you are buying distance golf balls, you’ll likely give up some greenside control due to its low spin characteristics. Golf Digest talks about this in one of their old articles from 2015.

Conversely, if you choose a ball with higher spin, you’ll lose a bit of distance. But honestly, technology advances have been amazing for golf balls and its getting easier and easier to find golf balls that can offer both.

If you are a pro, you’d definitely notice a difference. But for the average golfer, myself included, expensive golf balls will not make your golf game better. Using the same ball will certainly help.

The best golf balls on the market are only marginally better and amateur golfers rarely perform consistently enough for it to be a real factor.

So honestly, I would not recommend premium golf balls to anyone who is more than a 4 handicap. Even then, better golf balls make little difference for that level of golfer.

Another typical argument of playing premium balls on the golf course may be the level of confidence from playing a quality ball. Then again, this can also go the opposite way. You lose a couple of ProV1’s to a lake or cornfield, that’s a quick $8.

I could lose two Noodle balls and its $2. You want to get some confidence in a cheaper ball? Go buy a dozen noodle golf balls and hit one off the tee. Then throw your ProV1 down and hit it. They’ll be within a couple of yards of one another!

So will a Vice, or a Snell.

How important a golf ball is to your game?

Finding the right golf ball and then sticking with it is really simple and can be a huge benefit to your game. You’ll get used to how that ball reacts off the club and you will learn how to hit that particular ball 50 yards, 75 yards, 100 yards.

I’ve played some of my best golf after dialing these in!

You’ll also learn how much it rolls out once it hits the green. Once you get this dialed in, you can see some significant gains in your golf game. Playing the same ball can help.

One of the major factors discussed earlier is swing speed. Balls perform differently at various speeds. Softer golf balls, harder golf balls, it doesn’t matter. You can absolutely lose a lot of distance playing the wrong golf ball for your specific swing speed. Check here for the best distance golf balls.

How do you know which balls you should choose? Well, try out ball selector tool to start.

I am always testing new golf balls on my simulator and on the golf course. I do it for these articles. But every now and then, I end up in a position where I am getting low on balls in my bag. So I am having to grab whatever random ball I still had in there.

I did this a few months ago and had a 150 yard approach shot. Now, normally, with my Vice Pro, that is a smooth 8-iron shot and I can get pretty close to 150, +/- a couple yards.

I forget what ball it was, but I hit the thing and it sails over the back of the green and down a big hill. Now, it went pretty far over, but I thought the back hill had a lot to do with that.

So, on the next hole, I’m about 100 yards on my approach shot. Again, this is a very familiar yardage for me and I know exactly where I need to take my pitching wedge in my backswing to nail that yardage.

At least with the Vice Pro golf ball. Nope, sailed it about 20 yards over. Now imagine if I just had a bunch of random balls in my bag and I played whatever I happened to grab. I’d be struggling hard to figure out max club distances and then shorter yardage distances. Even around the greens, it would be so inconsistent.

So again, pick a ball and stick with it!

Should high handicappers use cheap or expensive golf balls?

Simple, cheap! You can still get a few extra yards out of a cheap ball if you select the right one based on your swing speed.

And honestly, if you are a high handicapper, the noodle is probably one of the absolute best golf balls on the market. It is a two piece golf ball, but still generates awesome spin control and great distance.

I used to play them exclusively, then ended up testing out some Vice golf balls and thought they were pretty awesome. They cost a bit more, but I buy them in bulk and get a decent discount.

I also like them because I can order direct from their website and usually have a coupon code for a free logo printing. You may want to check out my full review of vice golf balls.

Final Thoughts

Expensive golf balls do not make a difference for your average golfer. That being said, there is a difference in golf balls. They all perform differently based on different swing speeds and across the various levels of quality. But it’s a marginal difference most golfers won’t notice.

You can find out which golf ball to use by trying our free online ball fitting.

Interested in learning about the mental game of golf?

The average golfer should not be using a Pro V1, unless they are willing to throw their money away.

Distance is not determined by whether a ball is hard or soft. Historically, harder golf balls would go further. However, with advances in technology, that is not necessarily the case anymore. Plenty of softer balls travel just as far, lots of times further!

Pick a ball and stick with it.

Steer clear of lake balls.

Don’t be afraid to buy some of the cheapest balls on the market!

“Distance” golf balls DO NOT ALWAYS GO FURTHER. Marketing people sometimes lie.

Good luck on the golf course!

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