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Does the type of ball really matter?

Aug 27, 2013

You've probably heard it said that your golf ball is the only piece of equipment you use on every shot, so the type of ball you use counts. But does the ball you use really make that much of a difference to your game? We asked some of the pros at Golf Academy of America this question and all of them agreed the golf ball you choose does make a difference…up to a point.

"For a better player it absolutely matters, but for a novice player it really doesn't," says Sean Ferris, PGA instructor at Golf Academy of America in Phoenix. Brad Turner, campus director at Golf Academy of America in Orlando agrees. "At the higher skill level it matters," he says, "but the majority of people don't hit the ball with enough consistency to notice it."

The types of golf balls

"There's basically two types of golf balls," says John Shelley, a PGA instructor at Golf Academy of America in Dallas. "There's a distance ball and then there are high spin balls that the pros use." In a nutshell, distance balls are used by ordinary golfers while experienced players prefer balls with more spin and control. But there are also total performance balls that combine spin control, distance and feel, typically used by pro tour players."

Golf ball construction

Modern golf balls are wonders of technology. Two-piece balls contain a solid inner core (for distance) with a durable cover like Surlyn® or urethane. Multi-layer balls are usually three- or four-piece, but a handful of manufacturers make five-piece balls. Multi-layer balls contain a core wrapped in multiple covers that allow manufacturers to tweak performance.

Choosing a golf ball

If you're an experienced golfer looking to improve your game, choose your golf ball wisely. "For an experienced player, the choice of ball is going to boil down to two things," says Ferris. "Do you want distance or a softer feel that you can control?" Shelley advises trying out multiple brands and sticking with the one you like. You can often try out new models at demo days in golf stores, says Ferris. All the ball manufacturers carry a broad spectrum of balls and you can get a professional "ball fitting" to find the one that suits your game best.

Whatever ball you choose, Turner advises sticking with it. "If you vary your golf ball, when you do make good contact the ball can react differently," he says. "Consistency in the type of golf ball is the important thing."

What do you think? Does the type of ball you play make a difference to your game? Tell us about it in the comments.