How to Choose the Right Golf Ball for Your Game

Picking the right golf ball can actually do a lot for your game! But how to choose? Golf expert Armana Christianson breaks it down.

Photo by Jill Rose
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In the world of golf, there are so many different options and factors that go into just being on the golf course. What driver should you pick, what's your swing speed, do you have an arc putting stroke, are your clubs standard length - there's a lot! But one of the most forgotten or rarely evaluated aspects of the game for the average golfer is which golf ball to play. Which is amazing because it's the only piece of equipment that every golfer uses every hole! You walk into a golf store and there are a huge number of options, but they all look exactly the same. I don't know how many times I've heard "I'll just play whatever ball I find on the golf course!" Insert palm-to-face emoji here. If you're serious about your game or you want to work on it, there is a right ball for you.

Just like any other equipment in golf, there are lots of different brands and different types of golf balls on the market today. It can be overwhelming. How do you pick the right one? There are a few factors to think about as you do your research, but surprisingly enough, for most players, your handicap is not a good indication of what kind of golf ball you need. It's completely based on your individual and specific golf game. So let's get started on helping you find the perfect type of ball for your game.

Three golf balls and three golf clubs sit on a counter
Photo by Cristina Anne Costello

Learn the Pieces of a Golf Ball

In order to understand what kind of golf ball fits your specific needs, you need to learn more about what makes up those golf balls and what may differ between the brands and models. You've probably already seen those videos of someone cutting open a golf ball, so you likely know that there is a core in every ball. This core is surrounded by one or multiple layers and then the cover. Knowing all of this will give you a deeper understanding of the golf ball and what brands are saying when they put descriptions on their boxes.

Core

The core of the golf ball is generally made of compressed and molded rubber and takes up most of the space inside the ball. After impact, the core will help to retain the energy released into the ball to create launch, accuracy, and speed.

Layers

There's a couple reasons why layers are involved underneath the cover of the ball. The first is just to keep moisture out of the core. The second is that the number of layers can change the characteristics of the ball's performance. They can create more or less spin, and also help with ball speed retention without having to make the cover harder.

Cover

The cover of the golf ball has all the dimples on it to ensure smooth sailing. Depending on the thickness of the cover and material, it can change distance and spin.

A lot of times, golf balls will be described by how many pieces they are. I'm sure you've seen a one-piece golf ball, two-piece golf ball and even a five-piece golf ball. You most likely won't see a one-piece ball for sale, they're used at putt putt courses and sometimes at driving ranges. It's a completely solid ball, no core. It's all one piece. This makes distance a challenge and gives the ball a really firm feeling on impact.

Two-piece balls are sold as the distance creators. If you really don't have a concern about accuracy and you just want solid distance, this could be the ball for you. Be wary that by seeking out those longer distances, you'll be giving up feel and workability on the ball. It's also a good ball if you want to limit the spin you have.

A three-piece ball will have that extra layer allowing for a little spin and more forgiveness. A four-piece balls have an extra middle layer and are generally designed for the tour pros with high swing speeds. Four-piece balls also give you high iron spin.

A white golf ball with some blue dots on it rests on browning grass with fallen leaves around it
Photo by Pablo Zalazar

Pick An Area of the Game to Focus On

Here's where things get interesting. A lot of times with golf equipment, we choose based on our swing speed, but with a golf ball unless you are swinging 100 mph or faster like a tour player, it's not as necessary. Most modern golf balls are going to have low-compression cores that are just as firm as the high-compression ones. This means that no matter your swing speed - even those more moderate swing speeds - you can choose to use almost any golf ball and you'll be good. So if you're testing golf balls and you're checking for greater distances between different brands, there isn't going to be much of a difference. So what do you base your research off of then? The short game!

So much of this part is personal preference. Do you like to play shots that bump and run around the green? Or do you prefer high-spin shots? Do you need something that allows you to hit a variety of shots? How does it feel on impact? Does it have a soft feel? Or do you feel like the ball is too firm? The best ball for you is going to be the one that plays to your strengths and helps your weaknesses. Take a few sleeves of balls that you're considering to a practice area and get to comparing. How does the shot feel? Is the result what you like to see? How does it sound? A lot of players will want that softer ball for around the greens, but it's completely personal.

Have you ever putted with a golf ball that you didn't like? Not great. Take those options to the putting green, and if you're really paying attention to the feel, you'll notice which are the best golf balls for you. And after you've taken it around the short game area, choose the couple that you like the best and test them on course to see how you play overall with them.

A man's arm places a yellow golf ball on the grass while a putter rests next to his hand
Photo by Peter Drew

Make a Decision

After you've tested and made your choice, stick to it! Don't keep switching golf ball brands. Don't play that golf ball you found. If you want consistency in your game and you want to practice improvement, keeping that golf ball the same will help you achieve this. Even if this means paying the price for that dozen that works. It's going to be a worthwhile investment in your game.

All of these things will help you to figure out what type of golf ball is going to be the best fit for you. Whether you feel comfortable buying a premium ball, if you want low spin or want a soft ball, it's completely up to you and what your game needs!

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Written By
I'm a professional golfer who has spent the last 4 years traveling the country and working towards the LPGA. I played competitively in high school, winning class A state. I then played golf on scholarship for Creighton Univeristy and University of Nebraska Omaha, my hometown! ​ Throughout the years...

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