Finding the right ball for your game
Choosing the right clubs is critical to improving your game, and optimizing your golf ball can be just as important. Here are 4 factors you should consider when making your choice.
1. Distance -- Everybody wants to squeeze out a few more yards off the tee, and while your swing mechanics are the biggest determining factor of your ability to generate distance, the golf club/ball combination is the next most important element.
When a golf ball is struck, the impact determines the ball velocity, launch angle and spin rate. The ball that goes furthest for you may not go as far for other players, due to the spin you generate. So, understanding your swing speed is a key factor in choosing a ball best suited for your swing.
Distance is the goal, but don't fall into the trap of choosing a ball solely for its distance claims. Better players (and pros) may want to choose a ball that has a bit more spin in order to better control the ball flight and how it reacts after landing.
2. Spin -- A high spinning golf ball is easier to control around the greens, and in fact, easier to "control" with the driver too. However, this "control" generally comes at the expense of some distance off the tee. High spin rate golf balls allow "shot-makers" who like to curve the ball in flight to execute those curving shots. Unfortunately, they also tend to end up further off-line on mis-hits too. A lower spinning ball generally flies straighter and farther, so you need to evaluate what is more important to you -- trajectory control or distance.
3. Compression -- Generally, players with "slower" swing speeds (below 85-90mph) will benefit from a low (80) compression golf ball.
Players with moderate to high swing speeds (90-100mph) should look into medium (90) compression balls.
High swing-speed (95-105+ mph) players see gains using high compression balls (100)
Compressing the ball at impact is a key factor in taking full advantage of the COR (coefficient of restitution) built into the modern driver to maximize distance off the tee.
4. Feel -- The feel of a ball is expressed as firm or soft. While the compression rating affects feel, the cover material, and the construction of the internal layers also play into the feel characteristic. The balls with a "softer" cover generally are easier to spin on shots around the green, while the "firm" cover balls have a harder feel and tend to be a bit more durable and don't scuff up as easily.
The takeaway: Get to know what your swing-speed is and try some different balls with the proper compression rating. Experiment with a few balls that advertise different feel/spin characteristics to see what works best for you. Don't get too hung up on brand either. Virtually all of the brands have a good variety of balls suited for every type of player. It's just a matter of finding the ball best suited for your game.