Do Golf Balls Matter? What is the Difference?

Do golf balls matter? In general, golf balls do matter, but there are two ways to look at it – Performance and Consistency.

From a performance standpoint, most golfers cannot tell a difference until their skill level improves. When it comes to consistency, this is where EVERY GOLFER can benefit.

I have hit thousands of golf balls in the simulator. Testing the full product line of Bridgestone, Titleist, Vice, Snell, PXG, Callaway etc. From cheaper golf balls to premium golf balls.

There are absolutely performance differences!

Consistency Matters

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Consistency doesn’t mean expensive golf balls. Consistency means playing with the same ball.

If you go out and pick up any ball you come across in the woods, or pull golf balls out of the pond, or take a bucket of used balls from your neighbor, you’re hurting your game!

How so? Well, if you take a robot and set it to hit golf balls with the exact same swing speed and with the exact same impact point, then observe how different balls fly/roll, you’ll absolutely see differences from one ball to the next.

There are a number of studies from Golf Laboratories that prove this. Although I am far from having the consistency of a robot, I see this in my own testing all the time as well.

Why Using the Same Golf Ball Matters

You wouldn’t change your driver loft or lie angle from one shot to the next, why would you change your ball?

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You’ll see the differences if you constantly switch from one ball to another. But, it’s unlikely you’ll know the differences are from the ball and not your swing.

Imagine you have a 50-yard shot to a pin. You’re playing a random ball you found last week, let’s say a Titleist AVX. You hit a perfect shot, your ball lands on the green and rolls right up to the hole.

You may lose that ball on the next hole and start using a Titleist TruFeel. You’re left with a very similar 50-yard shot and you hit it exactly as you did last time. But now your ball comes up 10 yards short.

You must have hit it too soft, right? Next time you have that 50-yard shot, you’re playing a Noodle. You hit it a bit harder and overshoot the green. Whoa! Now I’m hitting it way too hard, right?

Well, not necessarily. You could certainly have some inconsistency in your golf swing. Practically every average golfer does. It’s likely you’re also getting inconsistent feedback from using different golf balls on each of those shots, resulting in you making bigger corrections than you should be.

When you use the same ball, you get used to its distances, how it reacts around the greens, its ball flight, etc. Again, this has nothing to do with cost, it’s simply a matter of playing with a consistent piece of equipment.

Golf Balls – What is the Difference in Performance

Golf ball manufacturers often produce a full product line of golf balls, meeting the needs of practically every golfer out there. Occasional golfers usually care more about price, while avid golfers may care a bit more about performance.

What do I mean by performance? Well, there is one very important aspect of a golf ball that dictates how far it goes off the tee and how well it performs around the greens – Spin.

Lower spin rates off the tee will ensure maximum distance, which every golfer wants. But higher spin around the green to help you stop the ball quickly when chipping is desirable. How do you get a ball that has both low spin off the tee and high spin around the greens? Well, that’s where premium golf balls come into play.

Golf Ball Construction

Vice golf ball cut in half to show the construction

Golf balls are generally made with 2, 3, or 4 pieces. Different materials will make up the cover, core, and any additional layers inside.

Covers will also vary in material, some softer than others.

Generally speaking, more layers equals more expensive. And, the softer the cover, the more expensive.

The core of the golf ball is generally what produces distance, all golf balls contain an inner core that allows the golf ball to compress and bounce off of any club face. Two piece golf balls simply contain the core and a cover.

So where does the spin come from? A softer outer layer between the core and cover, and a softer cover itself. Those softer layers allow the ball to grip the club face and use the loft of the club face to start its rotation.

This is why we have 3-piece balls and even 4-piece balls in some cases. All of that comes with a cost, however.

Do I Need This Added Performance?

Everyone should choose the right golf ball for their game based on individual preferences and capabilities. When choosing a golf ball, you should consider the following:

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  • Your overall skill level, what is your handicap

  • What is your swing speed (relatively easy to estimate based on the distance you produce)

  • What is your level of accuracy

  • Do you prefer a soft feel or firm feel golf ball

  • Do you struggle to get the ball in the air, golf balls have different trajectory characteristics

  • Do you care about spin around the greens, can you take advantage of of that spin and get your ball to stop or bite when it lands on the green

  • Do you place a higher priority on Price or Performance

That’s a lot to consider, and can be overwhelming. That’s why I have created a golf ball selector tool to help you narrow it down. We have thousands of metrics on golf ball performance data that will take into account all of your preferences and show you golf balls that meet your individual needs.

How Does Swing Speed effect Golf Ball Performance

Cartoon Golfer

It is well-documented that golf balls perform differently at varying swing speeds. In fact, a lot of golf ball manufacturers have been placing swing speed ranges on their packaging and/or marketing materials to help golfers decide.

You can get a quick estimate with our swing speed calculator. The tool also provides estimated club distances for each club and can be used as a handy reference if you struggle to remember your own numbers.

You can also find your swing speed when you use the golf ball selector tool, and in many of my articles that recommend golf balls, I provide a quick calculator so you know which golf balls to focus on.

Are There Specific Golf Ball Recommendations You Can Make?

First and foremost, how about a ball fitting by just answering a couple of questions? This is where the golf ball selector tool comes in. You can get to it from the links above, or the green banner at the top of the page.

I also have several articles that recommend golf balls based on several factors, those include:

In general, you can absolutely buy cheap golf balls and have a great time and perform just as well as any average golfer. Just stay away from lake balls or even refurbished golf balls. They can certainly be less expensive, but you don’t know what you are actually getting.

There are tons of instances where certain golf balls were purchased “refurbished”, but they were simply repainted and in some cases stamped with a log that wasn’t even the original.

So golf balls matter, but again, it’s not always about price.


Final Thoughts

Golf balls matter! But that doesn’t mean they need to be expensive. Using a consistent piece of equipment is important, at a minimum. So pick a ball and stick with it, whether it’s a cheap ball or a premium golf ball.

As your skill level increases, explore moving into a higher performing ball. The best golf balls for your game can be much different than the next player.

Don’t be buying lake balls, refurbished balls, or used balls. There are plenty of inexpensive options on the market that will fit your golf game.

Good luck on the golf course!

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