Golf balls are integral to the game. Different brands and models vary by dimple design, core, cover, and construction. Using the right ball for your game is important.
What are golf balls made of?
All golf balls have dimples to help them fly. They are not uniform, however. Balls will differ in size, dimple pattern, and even shape. These alterations affect the stability, rate of spin, and distance that you can hit. A completely smooth ball would only travel about half as far as a dimpled golf ball.
The core of a golf ball is what drives compression. Higher compression golf balls are generally for more experienced golfers with faster swing speeds. If you are a beginner or your speed of swing is naturally slower, a lower compression ball can add distance to your shots.
How does construction affect performance?
There are two main types of golf ball covers: Balls covered with an ionomer resin are the most durable and offer a lower rate of spin when teeing off. Urethane-coated golf balls are common on the pro circuit. Pro players use them for an increase in control and a soft hit.
Two-piece golf balls are usually the best choice for high-handicap golfers because they tend to work well for those with slower swing speeds. The larger core maximizes distance while minimizing back- and side-spin and movement. Also, the cover is a bit thicker than in other styles of balls, which gives a two-piece ball more durability. If you find that your golf shots are too often leaving you with a sliced cover, or you occasionally knock a shot off a rock or tree, you'll appreciate the extra resilience a two-piece ball provides.
Multi-layer balls come in a three- or four-layer designs. They are constructed with a mantle layer of rubber windings around a smaller core and a thinner cover is that enhances control and feel. They are also called tour balls because pro players on the PGA Tour use them almost exclusively. Many mid-to-low handicap amateurs with faster swing speeds also favor a multi-layer tour golf balls.
How do you determine the right ball for your game?
Skilled players may want to focus on making better pitch and chip shots around the green. A high-spin ball made from multiple pieces offer the backspin needed to “stick” a golf shot on the putting surface rather than have it go bounding away.
If you are new to the game of golf and have no professional golf tour aspirations, you’re probably trying to focus on striking the ball well and having it fly straight. A high-spin ball will exaggerate deficiencies in your swing causing your shot to hook or fade sharply. Two-piece, low-spin, golf balls will be better suited to a high-handicapper's game.
There are myriad golf ball brands to choose from. Once you’ve established the type of ball that’s right for your game, the brand is a personal choice.