You’ve taken up golf, you’re all set on the first tee with your new golf gear and clubs, and you reach into your bag for a ball. Your friend who’s been playing for years swears blind by a Titleist Pro V1X, but you figure the type of ball doesn’t matter. After all, they’re all the same – small, round, with dimples… right?
All golf balls are not the same, and they can make a huge difference to how you play the game – but your friend’s trusty ball may not be the right one for you either. Here are the basics you need to know.
Which ball should I start with?
Buying a top of the range ball may feel good as you’re standing there at the first tee, but, as a novice, be prepared to donate a few to water hazards, trees and thick vegetation! Losing balls can cost a lot of money, so buy ones that match your ability. If you’re an absolute beginner, consider used, refurbished, or clearance balls to start with – it’s less expensive if you lose them. Once you begin to improve, you can start to think about investing in some that offer better performance.
Types of ball
There are generally five types of golf ball: one-piece, two-piece, three-piece, four-piece, and five-piece. This just means that the balls have one, two, three, four, or five layers – but the layering makes a big difference to how you want to use a ball. One-piece balls are generally used in driving ranges and practice grounds; the three/four/five-piece balls are ideal for more experienced golfers who have a good swing, can hit longer distances, but want more control. These balls have layers that encourage spin, so the ball can be manipulated around the green more easily.
But the two-piece ball, also known as a distance ball, is perfect if you are a beginner, as it combines durability with maximum distance. They are built around a tough solid core and encased with a hard, thin shell – usually made from Surlyn or Urethane.
You may lose some of the control and feel of the multi-layered varieties, but that’s more than compensated for by the greater distance you’ll get with a two-piece ball.
You also need to know that dimples make a difference – they reduce drag and encourage lift in different ways, depending on the dimple pattern of the ball. They also increase distance by up to 115%!
What does compression rate mean?
This is a measurement of how hard or soft your ball is. Although playing conditions and weather should be taken into account, as a beginner you’ll probably want a softer ball with a low compression rate of between 30-70. This is because the ball tends to be softer and compresses more upon impact, which in turn creates greater distance.
With so many golf balls out there, it’s difficult to choose, but these low-compression two-piece balls are ideal for the beginner golfer:
- Srixon Soft Feel
- Titleist DT Trusoft
- Wilson Staff Duo
- Callaway Supersoft