In most sports you can only choose the racket, bat or boot – but not the ball. One of the oddities of golf is that you also get to choose your ball. However many golfers give this choice little thought. Using a ball that suits your ability may be just as important as choosing the right golf clubs.
“The idea that a golf ball widely played on tour is automatically a good choice for most amateurs is crazy and a disservice to the majority of golfers.” Brandon Sowell, Bridgestone Golf. Not all golf balls are the same. The type of ball used greatly affects the most important elements of a golf game: distance and control. Choosing the right golf ball is a critical decision and with so many kinds to consider the choice may seem overwhelming. When golf balls were made from wood, goose feathers, or a type of rubber called gutta, these original balls could not travel far, nor could they fly straight or in predictable patterns. By 1900, the golf ball had come a long way and consisted of a solid rubber core wrapped in rubber thread that was contained in a hard, outer sphere-shaped shell. Recent advancements in technology have allowed the development of balls that consist of two or up to five layers. Each ball has unique performance characteristics.
Types of Balls There are basically three types of golf balls that are each designed to do different things when struck.
Distance This type of ball is designed to react quickly as soon as it is struck to produce the maximum speed. Thus, the result is more distance overall. Although these balls can add many yards off the initial tee, they do not stop as quickly on the greens.
Control Control balls are designed to reduce excessive spin when struck into the air. Additionally, they help golfers reduce hooking and slicing tendencies.
Spin Spin balls create more side and backspin, which allows the ball to have a higher trajectory even though it goes a shorter distance. Spin balls also have a better stopping control around the greens.
Construction Golf balls are constructed in different ways. Each one is developed to help accomplish specific golfing goals. Golfers should choose their golf balls depending on what their needs or handicaps are during a golf game. For example, if a golfer has a powerful stroke that can go far, yet he or she lacks control, the four piece ball might be a good fit. In contrast, if the golfer has excellent control but needs help with distance, the two-piece ball might be a smart choice.
Two Piece Also known as traditional golf balls, two piece balls are made of a large solid core and have a thermoplastic resin cover made from Surlyn. These balls are made with a heavy jacket and are very durable. They are designed to allow the golfer the most distance from a shot, but they do not offer a lot of spin. Most distance balls are two-piece. Two piece balls are a good choice for beginners and high handicappers who wish to gain more distance but reduce spin when hitting a golf ball.
Three Piece Balata Three piece balls are made from a soft, plastic rubber called Balata. The solid, thin core of a three piece ball, called the mantle, can either increase distance or enhance spin, depending on how it is hit. Thus, these balls offer good control. Three piece balls are also called professional balls because they are preferred by pro golfers who want better control over the direction and distance of their shots.
Four Piece Although it is similar to the three piece golf ball, it has an extra layer in the middle. This layer takes the force from the impact of the club head and transfers it to the center core, which allows the ball to fly straighter with less spin. Players attest that these balls offer a longer distance from the tee, more spin on approach shots, and greater control around the green. Because these balls are so effective, they are referred to as ‘total performance’ balls.
Five Piece The latest development in the golf ball scene now involves five pieces. This latest technology contains an extra layer for even better feel and control. They offer improved performance across a wider range of clubs for advanced golfers with high club speed. These balls are the most expensive.
Swing Speed Perhaps the biggest factor is choosing which ball is best is the swing speed of the golfer. Golfers with lower swing speeds should use a harder distance golf ball, whereas golfers with higher swing speeds should use a softer golf ball since it offers more control.
Conclusion Finding the right golf ball does not have to seem like an impossible task. By taking into consideration the type and construction of ball that is needed to best meet the particular golfer’s goals, you should be able to discover the best golf balls to perfect your performance on the course.
A Small Tip Take the time before starting the round to make your unique mark on the golf balls in your bag with a permanent marker. That’s saved many a penalty shot for those about to play the wrong ball.
Footnote: ‘One hit wonders’ are often a good choice for the golfer who is liable to lose balls either ‘tok nam’ (in the water) or ‘kow pa’ (gone to the jungle). They may be sold at the pro shop, at kiosks around the course or by locals who wait for customers as they pass. There are sometimes small stalls just before the entry to the course. The best deal is when the balls have been sorted so that you can still choose the type of ball that suits you.