The Best Type of Golf Ball

by Sharon Penn

    At a retail price of $74.95 per dozen in 2010, the Dixon Fire is the most expensive golf ball in a marketplace filled with more than 1,000 balls approved by the United States Golf Association. You may wonder why a golfer would purchase the Dixon Fire, when there are many other fine golf balls that sell for $22 per dozen or less. The answer to that mystery is that not all golf balls are the same. While there is no single best type of golf ball, there probably is a best golf ball for you, based on your ability level and swing.

    USGA Standards

    To make the USGA's list of approved golf balls, a ball must not weigh more than 1.62 oz. and it must have a diameter of 1.68 inches or more. It must also be “spherically symmetrical,” or round. The ball also must conform to USGA initial velocity and overall distance standards, specified by the USGA for particular conditions.

    Elements of a Golf Ball

    There are two-piece, three-piece and multilayered golf balls. The two-piece ball is the most popular, and features a large rubber core surrounded by a plastic or urethane rubber cover, which provides the velocity needed to achieve distance. Because two-piece balls produce low spin, a hook to the left or a slice to the right will be minimized. The three-piece hybrid ball has a solid core, plus a mantle layer with a soft plastic or urethane cover. Three-piece golf balls provide more spin control than two-piece balls. Three- and four-piece balls provide low-handicap golfers with the “drop and stop” movement associated with professional tournaments. Their covering is a synthetic balata or a surlyn blend.

    Determining the Best Golf Ball

    Once upon a time, everyone used a soft rubber ball with a balata cover. Today, golfers can choose from hundreds of balls that conform to USGA standards. To determine which golf ball performs the best for you, you must know how fast you swing, and you also must know if you spin the ball enough to produce a hook or a slice. You also must admit to yourself how likely you are to hit the ball off the center of the clubface, and declare your ability to control the ball left or right. Then decide how much you are willing to spend on a golf ball.

    Best Balls for Beginners

    True beginners who lose a lot of balls probably should stick with inexpensive golf balls that are used, including X-outs from a driving range that would not pass quality control standards. As you improve, choose a ball with low spin to minimize a slice or a hook, a high launch angle to get the ball up in the air quickly and a hard cover that can withstand mishits. Durable surlyn-covered balls are popular with beginners. Low compression, two-piece models are a good choice for slower swing speeds below 85 mph.

    Best Balls for Advanced Golfers

    Golf balls that spin more make it easier for the experienced golfer to draw or fade the ball. They hold the green and have a softer feel. These balls often have a three-piece or multilayered construction, and the central core, which may be liquid, is covered by urethane or synthetic balata. These are the qualities golf professionals look for. Golfers who can hit the ball a long way seek “workability.” High compression used to be a desirable characteristic for advanced golfers, but today many prefer a lower-compression ball.

    References

    About the Author

    Sharon Penn is a writer based in South Florida. A professional writer since 1981, she has created numerous materials for a Princeton advertising agency. Her articles have appeared in "Golf Journal" and on industry blogs. Penn has traveled extensively, is an avid golfer and is eager to share her interests with her readers. She holds a Master of Science in Education.

    Photo Credits

    • Michael Cohen/US PGA TOUR/Getty Images