Practical Advice for Choosing a Golf Ball



The golf ball is indispensable. You hit it and find it—or you reach into your golf bag for another one. “The golf ball is the only piece of equipment you use on every shot,” stated one famous manufacturer. Indeed.

But which golf ball should you play? Hmmm.

The good news: There are an abundance of quality golf balls on the market. The bad news: There are an abundance of quality golf balls on the market. It’s confusing.

There can be a lot to know about golf ball construction (one to five pieces), the cover and features such as compression and spin rate, but in the end all golf balls are round and have dimples. Cost and performance are, for many of us, the two most important factors when choosing a golf ball.

Pros Weigh In

The Province, a British Columbia newspaper, interviewed a pair of Vancouver-area club professionals to solicit their golf ball advice for the average golfer. Steve Liddicoat is the head pro at University Golf Club in Vancouver.

“I think too often people get caught up in the whole distance-off-the-tee game,” Liddicoat said. “The most important part of finding a ball that is going to work for you is finding which ball works best for your scoring clubs — your wedges around the green and the feel off your putter. That, for me, is more important than five or seven extra yards off the tee. You’re going to save strokes around the green.”

Liddicoat said it’s hard to go wrong in today’s market because all the major brands are making top-quality golf balls. He recommended that average golfers avoid premium golf balls because lower-priced balls will perform just as well for them—and it will be less alarming when those less-expensive balls splash into the water and fly deep into the woods!

Liddicoat also said that most golfers don’t need to get caught up in golf ball materials and construction. Feel is what matters most.

“Talking to manufacturers, the thing they say most average golfers key in on is whether it’s soft or it’s hard. There are five or six companies that are all making good golf balls, and if you put them head to head, they all perform similarly.”

Head pro Brian Coe at Mayfair Lakes in Richmond, B.C., recommended that golfers be fitted for a golf ball using launch-monitor technology with the assistance of a golf professional. “[I]t’s all done to optimize things for the player.”

Absent that—and perhaps the most sensible advice of all—try out several golf balls. Test them in practice and then on the golf course. As Coe advised, “buy sleeves of a few different types” before you invest heavily in one golf ball. The process should identify a golf ball or two that will perform well for you, bringing out the best in your game.

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Neil Sagebiel

Neil Sagebiel is a golf writer and author of two golf books published by St. Martin's Press, THE LONGEST SHOT and DRAW IN THE DUNES. He lives in Floyd, Virginia.

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