Golf Balls:

Pick the right one for you

Like all other golf equipment, golf balls have changed quite a bit throughout the history of the game. The modern version flies further and staighter, rolls longer and faster and is more resistant to breaking apart than its predecessors.

Even long after the old feathery and gutta perchas went out of style, players were still pretty much limited to one type: a 3-piece construction made up of a solid core, wound with rubber bands and covered with a thin outer layer. Today, you have the choice of a one-, two- or three-piece ball.

How do you know which one to pick?

Some basic information on the different types and what they do will help with picking through the gigantic supply and reduce the amount of "trial and error" to find the perfect one for you. Just like your clubs, they should feel comfortable when you hit them.

Balls are designed to either help with

  • Spin control:
    A ball struck by a club starts spinning. The amount of spin makes it harder or easier to control the flight pattern, shape the shot and hold it on the green. This is called "workability".

  • Distance:
    Designed to fly off the clubface quickly to deliver maximum distance.

  • Overall performance:
    Offering a balance between distance and spin to get the best of both worlds.

Claims about distance or control don't mean much if you don't have the swing yet to hit it at the required speed to get maximum distance or the consistency to hit it on-center to shape the shot. What you want most is a ball that literally "feels" good. Nowadays, manufacturers are offering products in any combination of core, cover, compression rating, spin rating and dimple patterns to suit any golfer.

Rather than playing with a certain brand because it's what your husband/friend/neighbor/... is playing, get one that suits you as a beginning golfer: one that feels relatively soft, gives you a reasonable distance and flight pattern according to your swing while fitting your budget.

One of the great advantages of being a beginning golfer is that you lose far fewer balls than many an experienced player! Not being tempted to go for the challenging shots over hazards has made more than one novice finish a round with the same ball.

So it is absolutely justified to invest in a box of the right type of golf balls for you, rather than settling for whatever is in the grab bag!

Keep also in mind that even when you have found your perfect golf ball, external factors will influence its performance. Cold weather for example will make it feel harder when you hit it. Playing a course at altitude will make it fly farther, while playing at sea level will reduce the carry.

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