What kind of golfer are you when it comes to the golf ball you select to play with each round? Do you always have the same ball, same brand, same variety that you have used religiously for many years and won’t even contemplate changing, or are you a golfer who reaches into the bag and grabs any ball that comes to hand to tee of with?
It’s an interesting question because when I think back to playing a few rounds with my friends over the last few summers, I have a mix within that group and oddly enough, the mix is not based on ability with the golf ball.
My brother, who I have to confess is the best golfer amongst our group, is happy to play almost any ball he can grab from his bag, as is my friend who is without doubt, the most uncoordinated golfer in the history of the game.
Yet another relative beginner who plays with us will only play Callaway balls because he believes that he hits them straighter, further and also that he loses them far less often than any other brand. I don’t have any statistics to prove him right or wrong, but logic dictates that this must be nonsense given his general ability.
From my own perspective, I had a real awakening about the ball I used last year which was entirely my own fault for not understanding some of the basic principle of golf ball purchase.
For almost two years, I used Titleist Pro V1 golf balls, although instead of paying the full price for the perfect balls, I would buy a load of Pro V1 seconds from my local golf shop, at around £1 per ball. My view was that these balls were almost as perfect as the original, would offer me great control and would therefore be a wise and affordable choice.
I was completely and utterly wrong.
My brother has always hit the ball around the same distance as me and last year, he treated himself to a new Nike driver and he was consistently hitting the ball 20-30 yards further than me with it. I assumed it was because he had a new club and that had given him added distance.
The real truth was brought home to me when after examining my ball from the last hole, I noticed a large slice on one side. I donated the ball to the pond by the tee and reached into my bag to find that I’d forgotten to add my new pack of Pro V1’s to the bag and was now out.
I did have other balls, so I picked up what I felt was an inferior Bridgestone ball from a few years ago and placed it on the tee and proceeded to hit a tee shot that saw the ball land equally as far as my brothers.
Continuing the round, it soon dawned on me that the reason these Pro V1’s were so cheap was because they were imperfect and that this was significantly reducing how far I could hit the ball. I switched to an ‘inferior’ ball and found I was hitting the ball much, much longer with almost every club.
This brought home to me the importance of selecting the right ball for your game and in my view, the type of ball you need is determined almost entirely by your level of skill with the club in your hand.
I think only low handicap golfers, serious amateurs and professionals really can exploit the benefit of the most expensive balls on the market, those that may sacrifice a little distance, but for added control and feel.
Mid handicap golfers would be ideally suited to a ball that has the qualities of a longer ball, but with added control, so that they can start to control the ball more, particularly on approach shots to the green and with wedges in hand.
For high handicappers and beginners, I would always suggest they go for durable balls that are relatively inexpensive to replace and which offer maximum distance from the tee. Control isn’t an issue as they will not likely have developed the skills to do this fully yet, whereas the cost of replacing lost balls, especially for a beginner, is a key consideration.
In terms of make, personally I feel it is a matter of choice. Try different types of balls and see how each responds to your swing. You’ll soon find a couple of favourites, but approach it with an open mind as you may find that it is not the biggest and most obvious names in golf ball production that tend to offer you the best option when it comes to your golf ball.