When it comes to choosing a golf ball, you have a huge selection to choose from.
If you’re a beginner there’s a high chance you’re going to lose plenty of balls during your early rounds. So, in many respects, it doesn’t matter what type of ball you are using. It’s probably worthwhile just buying the cheapest golf balls so your new found hobby doesn’t quickly become very expensive!
However, if you’re not a beginner golfer, then it’s worthwhile exploring the market a little in order to find good value and a ball which will suit your gme.
It’s not simply a case of choosing a golf ball made by your favourite brand or the one you like the look of because of its colour or pattern (albeit the Vice gold golf balls below do look pretty epic!)
There are many aspects that go into the design of a golf ball including the number of pieces used in the construction, the compression, spin, and distance.
But these elements can be a little overwhelming and confusing.
So below we’ve broken down examples of the different types of golf balls with a summary of exactly what each element of a golf ball means.
There are five types of golf ball construction and they are each based on the number of pieces used to create the golf ball.
One-piece golf balls
The one piece golf ball is the cheapest money can buy! Therefore it’s also the most basic in terms of performance.
Made from just one material, one-piece golf balls are the most durable type of golf ball which is why you’ll likely find many of them at your local driving range. They usually have a heavy, tinny feel and don’t generate much spin.
You may not care about that when trying to hit the ball as far as you can at the driving range or putting at crazy golf, but for anything else you are advised to avoid using a one-piece golf ball.
Two-piece golf balls
The two-piece golf ball blends the durability of a one-piece golf ball with the addition of a softer cover. Made from two materials, a two-piece golf ball features a rubber centre surrounded by a shell made of Surlyn or soft urethane.
For the beginner golfer who is looking to develop their game on the course, the two-piece golf ball is a good choice as it promotes both distance and durability. They are generally entry level golf balls in terms of price.
Three-piece golf balls
Moving to three-piece golf balls and these provide more of a compromise between distance and feel.
If you look at some of the most popular golf balls used on the PGA and European Tour, you will find they are often three-piece constructions, with the Titleist Pro V1 being a good example as the number one ball in golf.
The benefits of the additional layer over the two-piece golf ball is a softer feel and increased spin. In the past, these advantages would have come with a huge reduction in distance. However, today this is no longer the case thanks to the R&D of some of the biggest manufactures.
As you’d expect from a more technical golf ball, you will find the price of a quality three-piece golf ball to comfortably exceed that of a two-piece ball.
A slightly firmer golf ball to the Pro V1 that promotes a little extra distance
Four-piece golf balls
The four-piece golf ball has led to a great debate among the pros because there’s doubt on the difference in performance that the addition of the extra layer brings.
The theory goes that the extra layer on a four-piece golf ball will allow those with significant swing speed to create more spin on iron shots. This would mean greater control when using irons, but also less spin when using the driver, promoting more distance.
The best golfers may notice a difference, but the majority of golfers won’t.
Five-piece golf balls
Finally, we move to the five-piece golf ball. Considering the information regarding a four-piece golf ball, you may want to disregard the option of a five-piece golf ball completely.
The science behind the creation of the five-piece golf ball follows in the footsteps of the four-piece ball, with spin separation at the heart of the design.
There is less compression when using the driver, resulting in greater distance yet the super soft urethane cover ensures plenty of spin and control on shorter iron shots.
The difference between a three-piece, four-piece, and five-piece golf ball does not appear to be great, but you can always try them out for yourself before making a judgement.
Golf ball compression is related to the density of the ball and in turn, this has an impact on the flight and loft of the ball. When you strike a ball using a golf club, the amount the ball deforms against the face of the club is called compression.
The amount of compression affects the energy transfer from the club to the ball and the more you can compress the golf ball, the further the distance it will travel.
There are two types of golf ball compression and they are low compression and high compression.
A low compression golf ball is good for those who want help in generating distance off the tee. A low compression golf ball often has a higher spin rate and this can help with producing height on shots. They are generally best for golfers with slower swing speeds such as beginners, seniors and women.
A high compression golf ball is firmer and does not deform as much in contact with the face of the club. They provide greater control on a range of shots, including off the tee but do not offer much assistance in terms of distance. Therefore, high compression golf balls are more suited to lower handicap golfers with higher swing speeds.
When we talk about the feel of a golf ball, we’re referring to how it feels off the face of the club.
Some golf balls will feel soft on the face whereas others will feel harder. Golf balls that feel firm tend to come with a solid rubber core and are often two-piece golf balls. So, a golf ball with a firm feel will usually generate more distance and provide plenty of durability.
A golf ball with a softer feel will tend to be made using a soft rubber core. This is usually combined with a soft urethane cover and is found when using a three, four, or five-piece golf ball. Soft feel golf balls provide superior control and spin around the greens but don’t offer the same distance as a firmer feel golf ball.
It generally comes to a trade off in what is more important for you.
When discussing the spin of a golf ball, we can split the choice of balls into three distinct categories.
As the name suggests, a low spin golf ball will decrease the amount of spin on your shots but we are not talking only in terms of back or top spin.
One of the reasons you may slice your shots is due to the spin imparted on one side of the ball. A low spin golf ball can help reduce the amount of spin and thus the severity of your slice.
A medium spin golf ball essentially bridges the gap between a low spin and high spin ball.
This type of golf ball tries to incorporate the best of both worlds, offering both distance and feel. A medium spin golf ball will be suitable for most golfers, with a solid distance and acceptable amount of feel.
However, it is worth noting the amount of feel and softness of a medium spin golf ball will vary depending on the manufacturer.
As you may have guessed, a high spin golf ball is designed to produce the maximum amount of spin on the ball when it’s in the air.
Not only does a high spinning ball increase the amount of spin, but it can also promote a longer carry. They are also advantageous around the greens where using increased backspin on the ball allows for more creativity and a greater variety of shots.
You are sure to have noticed every golf ball available on the market is designed using dimples.
The main reason for dimples on a golf ball is because they are proven to reduce drag on the golf ball as it travels through the air.
If you were to watch a professional golfer hit a regular golf ball with dimples and then a smooth golf ball, without any dimples, you may be amazed by the results. The smooth golf ball is likely to travel only half the distance of the dimpled ball and so it quickly becomes apparent why the dimples are an important design feature!
In terms of the number of dimples on a golf ball, the average golf ball will have between 300 and 500 dimples. The precise number of dimples on the golf ball will vary depending on the manufacturer but many of the top quality balls, as used by the pros on tour, will have between 300 and 350 dimples.