In golf's modern era, the small, round dimpled orbs that fill the pockets of your golf bags are truly the sum of their parts. From the materials that make up its cover to how it's filled inside, a golf ball's composition greatly affects its behavior on the course. Among other things, it determines how high or low it launches off your clubface and spins around the green and how much it compresses when hit. In short, the modern golf ball is a technological masterpiece, with a number of different varieties built specifically for players of varying skill levels. They've truly come a long way since a bunch of feathers were sewn inside a ratty piece of leather.
The question today is, how do you choose the right ball? To start, pay attention to the writing on the box. Two-piece golf balls tend to favor slower swingers who want maximum distance. Multi-layered golf balls are generally reserved for fast swingers who want some added control, especially from the fairway. Decide first what type of ball best suits you, then consider trying a few different brands to see which works best for you.
Understanding Our Charts Key Features: The characteristics of the golf ball, including an overview of the cover, core and spin. What We Like: We have our preferences, too, and share what we like in the particular ball. Who It's For: What type of golfer would most likely benefit from playing this ball. Construction: The material used for head construction. Cover: Indicates the material used for the strike area. Dimple Design: Indicates the club's general shape. Generally, wedges fall into two shape categories—blades or cavity-backs. Distance: Whether or not custom options are available. This includes shafts, grips, etc._Ê Spin: The stock shaft offerings from the manufacturer. Feel: The relative softness of that model.
Key Feature: A two-piece construction with a Tour-quality urethane cover. What We Like: A reasonably priced golf ball that features a Tour-caliber urethane cover; the all-around performance coupled with excellent durability and feel. Who It's For: Players who need some help creating enough spin to keep the ball in the air long enough to maximize carry distance. Anyone looking for a ball with a soft feel, good short-game performance and distance at a nice price. Construction: Two-piece _â" Cover: Urethane Dimple Design: Seamless (330) _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft bridgestonegolf.com | $25/doz. Bridgestone e6+
Key Feature: Multilayer construction featuring an anti-spin, extra velocity inner cover, soft gradational compression energy core and soft Surlyn cover. Low compression design made to provide soft feel and extra distance. What We Like: An outstanding multilayer design made for the masses. Who It's For: Those looking for the advanced performance of a multilayer golf ball at the price of a two-piece. Anyone who wants a combination of distance and feel. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Soft Surlyn Dimple Design: Seamless (330) _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: Medium _â" Feel: Soft bridgestonegolf.com | $25/doz. Bridgestone B330/B330-S
Key Feature: Both the B330 and B330-S are designed to provide Tour-caliber performance from tee to green. Multilayer construction with seamless injection molded urethane cover provides outstanding consistency and durability. What We Like: An all-around great performer that feels good and goes long. Seamless design provides confidence on the putting green. Who It's For: Pro V1 players should try the "S" model, while Pro V1x players should opt for the regular B-330. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Urethane Dimple Design: Seamless (330) _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft bridgestonegolf.com B330 B330S | $40/doz. Callaway Tour i
Key Feature: Dual-Core construction. Tungsten-infused outer core moves weight away from the center for increased MOI, lower driver spin and increased driving distance. Lower compression inner core provides low spin off the driver, while higher compression outer core provides improved short game control. What We Like: Callaway's desire to continue to create innovative golf ball designs. Who It's For: Those who normally play the Pro V1 would do well to try the Tour i. Construction: 4-Piece _â" Cover: Thermoset Urethane _â" Dimple Design: Hex 332 Distance: High _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft callawaygolf.com | $45/doz. Callaway Tour ix
Key Feature: Dual-Core construction. Tungsten infused outer core moves weight away from the center for increased MOI, lower driver spin and increased driving distance. Lower compression inner core provides low spin off the driver, while outer core provides better short game control. What We Like: The combination of Thermoset Urethane and Reaction Injection Molding (RIM) Technology is impressive. Who It's For: Those who normally play the Pro V1x should try the Tour ix. Construction: Four-piece _â" Cover: Thermoset urethane _â" Dimple Design: Hex 332 Distance: High _â" Spin: Med _â" Feel: Soft callawaygolf.com | $45/doz. Innovex E-motion
Key Feature: Progressive Motion dual core for optimal feel on short shots and maximum distance on longer shots. Shock Absorber Rebound Technology helps E-Motion retain its shape more quickly for better accuracy. What We Like: A smaller manufacturer making a high-quality golf ball. Who It's For: Players looking for performance in all areas of the game, as well as those looking to take a chance on a lesser-known name. Lineup: E-motion Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Aeroblend Dimple Design: 392 _â" Distance: Med _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft innovexgolf.com | $36/doz. Nike Golf Juice
Key Feature: The Juice ball is designed to serve as a distance ball, albeit slightly softer and without a harsh feel. What We Like: Creative advertisements aside, the Juice has plenty of pop off the tee, as well as a pleasing, soft feel. Who It's For: Average players with moderate to slow swing speeds who can use a few yards of extra distance off the tee. Those who want a ball with an edgy image or who just like to see the swoosh on a golf ball. Construction: Two-piece _â" Cover: Surlyn Dimple Design: Round (312) _â" Distance: High Spin: Moderate _â" Feel: Soft nikegolf.com | $20/doz. Nike Golf One Black
Key Feature: Progressive density core designed for improved feel and reduced spin for higher swing speed players. A power transfer layer that increases ballspeed on drives, fairway woods and long-iron shots. What We Like: The higher-swing speed version of the One isn't just the same design with a slightly different core or cover, it's an entirely different golf ball. Who It's For: Those who currently like the Pro V1x should try the One Black. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Urethane Dimple Design: High-coverage 336 _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft nikegolf.com | $43/doz. Nike Golf One Platinum
Key Feature: Four-piece design with two covers, a power transfer layer and a high-velocity core is engineered for higher spin performance on scoring shots and lower spin performance off the tee for greater carry distance. What We Like: Nike taking their Tour ball seriously and pushing the envelope with innovative technology. Who It's For: Golfers who want a golf ball that can do it all or anyone who has a game like Tiger's. Those who like the Pro V1. Construction: 4-Piece _â" Cover: Injection molded urethane _â" Dimple Design: 378 Distance: Med _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft nikegolf.com | $43/doz.
Pinnacle Platinum Feel
Key Feature: New soft, thin cover formulation and large, 1.595-inch core construction make the Platinum Feel the most advanced and high-performing golf ball to wear the Pinnacle name. What We Like: A less expensive, two-piece golf ball that has some technology and provides solid all-around performance. Who It's For: Players looking for maximum distance while still enjoying a relatively soft feel on short shots and those around the green. Anyone looking for a good value in golf balls. Construction: Two-piece _â" Cover: Soft Ionomer Dimple Design: 332 Icosahedral _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: Med _â" Feel: Med pinnaclegolf.com | $18/doz. Srixon Trispeed
Key Feature: Rabalon HR blended ionomer used to create both the mid-layer and the thin cover helps produce extra ballspeed off all clubs in the bag. Proprietary Energetic Gradient Growth core for extra distance. What We Like: Srixon's dedication to new technology and quality. Who It's For: Players with average clubhead speed who want to hit the ball longer with every club in the bag, but also want a relatively soft feel. Anyone looking for a good value. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Rabalon HR blended _â" Dimple Design: High Trajectory 333 Distance: High _â" Spin: Low _â" Feel: Soft infinitigolf.com | $25/doz. Srixon Z-URS
Key Feature: Newly developed, highly resilient and thin ionomer boundary layer and highly resilient ultra-large-diameter Energetic Gradient Growth soft core. What We Like: Its design and mirror finish are classy. The RSS was designed by two of the top designers in golf—and it shows. Who It's For: If you currently play the Pro V1, the Z-URS is worth a look. For those who like the Pro V1x, check out the Z-URC. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Urethane elastomer _â" Dimple Design: High trajectory 330 _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: High _â" Feel: Soft srixon.com | $40/doz. Taylormade Burner TP
Key Feature: The new Low Drag Performance (LDP) dimple design arranges a variety of dimples in a pattern that maximized carry and distance on off-center hits and those that lack the optimal amount of spin. What We Like: The super-soft core that helps provide distance for a wide variety of swing speeds, as well as the innovative LDP dimple design and iothane cover. Who It's For: Players that want Tour-like performance from a mid-priced golf ball. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Iothane 56 Dimple Design: 342 Low Drag Performance Distance: High _â" Spin: Med _â" Feel: Soft taylormadegolf.com | $25/doz. Taylormade TP Red/Black
Key Feature: The new Low Drag Performance (LDP) dimple design arranges a variety of dimples in a pattern that maximized carry and distance on off-center hits. What We Like: The unique way TaylorMade engineers managed to maximize distance on off-center hits with a Tour-intended golf ball. Who It's For:Those who want a Tour-caliber golf ball. If you like the Pro V1, try the TP Red, if you like Pro V1x, try the TP Black. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Thermoset urethane _â" Dimple Design: 360 Low Drag Performance (LDP) _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: High (Red), Low (Black) _â" Feel: Soft taylormadegolf.com Red Black | $40/doz. Titleist DT Carry/Roll
Key Feature: Each model has a unique dimple design engineered to provide specialized performance. The DT Carry features a pattern for high-lift performance, while the DT Roll features a pattern that promotes a lower trajectory. What We Like: The return of the storied DT franchise with two new high-quality offerings. Who It's For: Value-minded players who need a specific type of trajectory in order to achieve maximum distance. Construction: Two piece _â" Cover: Surlyn Dimple Design: 252 Icosahedral (Carry), 392 Icosahedral (Roll) _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: Med _â" Feel: Med titleist.com Carry Roll | $22/doz.
Titleist NXT Tour
Key Feature: Multilayer dual-core design that allows for greater spin on shorter shots and less spin and more distance on longer shots. What We Like: The NXT Tour has long been a less-expensive substitute for the Pro V1, and now it's better than ever. The NXT Extreme is also available for those who put a higher premium on distance. Who It's For: Any golfer who wants a high-performance golf ball but doesn't necessarily want to pay $40 or more for a dozen golf balls. Construction: Multilayer (dual core) _â" Cover: Fusablend _â" Dimple Design: 392 Icosahedral Distance: High _â" Spin: Med Feel: Soft titleist.com | $30/doz. Titleist Pro V1/Pro V1x
Key Feature: Titleist's new staggered wave parting line for enhanced ballflight and A.I.M. side stamp for putting alignment. The Pro V1 features a three-piece multilayer design while the Pro V1x features a four-piece design. What We Like: The most successful golf ball model of all time continues to improve. Who It's For: Players with higher swing speeds should try the Pro V1x. Any level of golfer can play the Pro V1 and get excellent performance. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Urethane elastomer _â" Dimple Design: 392 Icosahedral (Pro V1) 332, Icosahedral (Pro V1x) _â" Distance: High _â" Spin: High/Med _â" Feel: Soft titleist.com V1 V1X | $45/doz. Top Flite Gamer
Key Feature: Three-piece construction with DimpleinDimple aerodynamics that's designed to help hold spin longer without ballooning and reduce drag for maximum overall distance. What We Like: The legendary Top Flite name on a pretty darn good golf ball. The Gamer puts the "Top Rock" nickname in jeopardy due to the multilayer design. Who It's For: Any recreational golfer looking for a golf ball that provides solid performance at a really nice price. Construction: Multilayer _â" Cover: Thin ionomer Dimple Design: DimpleinDimple Aerodynamics Distance: High _â" Spin: Med _â" Feel: Med topflite.com | $20/doz. Choose Wisely
Golf balls are like most consumer products these days, with seemingly too many choices for a spot decision. Manufacturers produce many different models in an effort to compete for shelf space and exposure to various price points, which often leads to confusion. The best way to combat this trend is to take the guesswork out of the problem through diagnostic testing. If you haven't been tested for the right ball, there's no time like the present. Most golfers buy a ball brand out of reputation of the manufacturer, advertising, or through an ongoing process of trial and error.
But with the advent of launch-monitor testing, buying the right ball can be a far more exact science than ever before. A competent fitting professional can measure ball spins, launch angles and velocities with various balls to hone in the perfect blend of ballistic properties. Then the decision becomes a matter of price, feel and personal preference.
As a generality, softer-feeling urethane covers produce higher spin rates than Surlyn, especially at lower ball speeds like those found with short-game shots. Some newer-generation balls are two-piece only with a firmer inner core and the softer urethane outer layer. This configuration produces low spins with the longer clubs and higher spins with wedges but may have a slightly harder feel. —Don Wood