Selecting the right golf ball is a critical step toward better golf. Unlike the rest of the equipment being used, the golf ball factors into every shot.
So which ball is best for you?
There are many golf balls in the marketplace and all are being marketed differently. “This one is soft, this one is hard, this one is long, this one is better for slow swing speeds or high-spin or low trajectory.” In an instant gratification world, it’s understandable why the majority of golfers just grab a sleeve of balls at the course based on the golf staff’s recommendation. Instead, let’s review how Tour professionals test/fit their golf balls:
Except for the time John Daly haphazardly “tested” (and approved) my only five MaxFli Black Max prototypes by driving them all into a lake, elite players all start on the putting green. Start by bouncing a few different types of golf balls off the face of your putter. By doing so, you will feel/hear how soft each one is. Today, there are a lot of 2-pc balls that are actually made softer than tour balls. A Tour-caliber ball with a thin urethane cover will be quieter and softer. It’s important to choose a ball that sounds & feels right. After all, more than 30 percent of your strokes will come off the putter face.
Recovery Zone (Inside 40 yards)
I call this the “recovery zone,” because if a golfer is off the green 40 yards and using a wedge, he/she has missed the green in regulation and now needs to recover by getting up and down for par. Since an average 15-handicap golfer only hits about four greens per round, a lot of time should be spent in this zone.
Using the club you prefer on short pitch shots, hit a series of small chips, flops to evaluate the ball’s behavior. Did the ball stop immediately? Bounce once and check? Run out? This can be an arduous process, but will be one of the biggest determining factors in choosing the ball right for you.
Scoring Zone (Inside 100 yards)
This is the distance where players are the most accurate. It is also where performance differs from ball-to-ball. In my experience with Tour pros and average players, the better player will spin the ball with their wedges twice as much and as a result, are able to zip the ball backward or stop on one hop. Having a ball that will stop faster and reduce roll out may eliminate additional strokes from long range. As a general rule, if the ball is settling near the pitch mark (and not running out), it is a good fit.
For some slower swing speed golfers they may find a ball that runs out fits their game, to enable pitch and runs as a primary method to control distance.
Approach Shots (Inside 165 yards)
The final step in finding the right golf ball is with mid and long irons shots to test the ball’s performance into a headwind. Which ball travels at the highest peak trajectory? If a ball is consistently shorter, it may be spinning too much. Use today's technology (Foresight, Trackman, etc) to learn more about what you iron shots are doing and what fits best.
Off the Tee
All golf balls today travel the same distance, so I don’t advocate ball fitting with a driver. The proper loft, shaft selection, and strength are the best ways to add extra distance!
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