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How To Buy Golf Balls

Today's golf balls are the culmination of a variety of disciplines and talents, from material science to physics. Since there are many kinds of golfers, engineers have devised many kinds of golf balls. When matched correctly to a golfer's game, specific golf balls can increase enjoyment as well as chances for par. The technology of golf balls has reached an unprecedented level, offering different covers, cores, dimple patterns and compression to best suit golfers' varying needs.

Ball Types

Distance

  • A ball designed to react quickly off the clubface for maximum speed, which results in overall distance.
  • Distance balls appeal to people who find every yard counts, but where it may bring 15 more yards off the tee, it might also skip off the putting surface like a flat rock on water.

Control

  • A ball designed to deter excessive spin, such as backspin (makes the ball climb higher) or sidespin (hooks and slices).
  • Control balls help golfers fight hooking-and-slicing tendencies and maneuver low shots on windy days.

Spin

  • A ball intended to create as much backspin as possible, which generally leads to higher trajectory and better stopping ability on the ground.
  • Better amateurs and touring pros prefer balls that offer high spin. These models may not be as long off the tee, but they make up for it in superior control.

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Construction

Overall Design

Two-piece balls:

  • Contain a large solid core and thin Surlyn cover
  • Enhance distance and durability
  • Offer more durability and improved playing characteristics

Three-piece balls:

  • Contain a small solid or liquid core
  • Usually have rubber windings, and cover elastic winding and soft balata cover
  • Enhance backspin and control

Other:

  • Multi-layers provide a multi-purpose ball
  • Wound balls are made of thin, little rubber bands wound tightly into a sphere

Core

  • Solid cores are usually made of a high-energy rubber or similar compound
  • Liquid-filled cores offer less trajectory and great feel and can spin for better accuracy
  • Titanium cores provide more reaction and greater distance

Cover

  • Determines feel on soft hits, like putts and chips
  • Blends co-polymer plastics, high-energy rubber, or similar resistant compounds
  • Multi-cover layers material over the core to induce different playing responses
  • Surlyn balls travel farther with less spin
  • Balata-covered balls are softer and offer more enhanced feel, although they don't resist scrapes and cuts well

Dimples

  • Vary between 300 and 500
  • Affects the aerodynamics for more or less trajectory
  • Larger dimples promote trajectory
  • Smaller dimples lessen trajectory

Compression

  • Sorts golf balls by their hardness
  • If you prefer a softer feel, you should play a 90 compression ball, and if you prefer a harder feel, you should play 100
  • Swing speed is not necessarily the determining factor in selecting your compression

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Playing Level

  • When thinking about which ball will help you achieve par, it's best to imagine a good-sized par-4.
  • If getting an extra 15 yards off the tee would help you hit shorter irons on approach shots to green, then maybe a distance ball will help.
  • Most people feel that high-spin balls appeal only to pros that need precision on iron shots. But a senior or woman who has trouble reaching a par-4 in two shots will appreciate the control offered by a performance ball after the 3rd shot.
  • Some balls are designed for slower swing speeds with a lightweight construction that catches air. They are generally marketed for women or seniors, but don't let labels fool you. Plenty of men play these balls because, for them, it yields the most distance.

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