How to choose your best ball

February 19, 2007

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Playing equipment fit to you leads to more fun-and lower scores. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and be custom-fit for a new golf ball. It’s fast and easy to do. Here are tips to maximize your experience from guys who know a bit of what they speak.

Steve Ogg, senior category director-customization, Callaway Golf:
“Begin with understanding your greenside control needs. If control around the greens is critical to your game then consider a 3-piece urethane covered ball. After warming up, hit a dozen or so drives with one of the available 3-piece urethane covered balls on the market. If your spin average after throwing out ‘bad’ shots is less than 2500 rpm and you are playing a 10-degree or 10.5-degree driver (or higher loft), then opt for one of the high-spinning urethane covered balls. If you are playing a 9.5-degree driver (or lower loft), then consider playing a higher-lofted driver for increased launch angle and distance. If your spin is 3000+ rpm then consider a lower-lofted driver and urethane covered ball that provide lower driver spin. Find a loft/ball combination that provides a spin as close to the range of 2200 and 2600 rpm as possible with as high a launch angle (12+ degrees) as possible. It is typically more important to be in the right spin range than to focus on increasing launch angle.

If greenside control is not critical to you then ask yourself ‘what is?’ Perhaps spin with full irons is important to you, or perhaps a soft feel, or then again perhaps all you care about is obtaining the greatest distance off of the driver. If spin with full irons is important, look for a golf ball with a medium to low cover hardness. There are many golf balls that provide very good distance with soft feel, but don’t confuse soft feel with control around the greens. A ball that feels soft due to low core compression can still have a relatively hard cover that does not grip the more highly loft clubs. The improvements in core technology over the last decade have resulted in many good choices in the feel-distance golf ball category.

If all you care about is maximum distance you don’t necessarily have to play a hard golf ball, but the cover hardness will tend to be relatively high in order to obtain low driver spin and the core compression will be selected to provide a balance between high speed and low spin.”

Tom Preece, director of global consumer connection, Cobra Golf:
“It’s best to be fit on a launch monitor by a company rep.”

Dr. Tom Mase, EVP of R&D and Innovation at Hot Stix Golf and John German, supervisor fitting operations, Hot Stix Golf:
“Often, ball fitting is not considered a part of the custom fitting process. But the ball must compliment all aspects of a golfer’s game.

You need to get fit for a ball at 25 and 250 yards. At 250 yards the launch monitor is critical to get proper spin, launch and velocity. Next, you need to know how you want the ball to perform from 120 yards and in. Lastly, some practical considerations are needed. The premium balls are great. But if you play a course that “claims” 4-5 of your balls each round you may want to find a middle-ground product that makes your wallet happy at the end of the day.”

Bill Iseri, manager of custom fitting, Ping Golf:
“Play the ball that works/feels best with your irons and putter. A great drive is worthless if the approach or chip shot doesn’t hold. With multi-core and multi-mantle balls, you are no longer sacrificing distance off the tee for feel around the green.”

Tom Wishon, president, Tom Wishon Golf Technology:
“Unless you are a Tour player or very low single digit handicap player, put a new grip on your ball retriever and only play those balls you fish out with a bright, clean, unscarred cover. If you are a very skilled player, choose a lower spin ball if your natural trajectory is high and a higher spin ball if your natural trajectory is low.”

Rob Sauerhaft is the Managing Editor of Equipment for GOLF MAGAZINE. E-mail him your questions and comments at [email protected]