Pros, cons of various golf balls examined

Contributing Columnist

I am often asked questions about the different kinds of golf balls we use on the course. There are numerous types of construction, however, golf balls can basically be looped into four main categories. These divisions are multilayer construction, two-piece low compression, two-piece performance and two-piece distance.


Multilayer construction
Pro: Each layer serves a different purpose. The soft cover enhances feel, and the inner firm mantle improves the energy transfer to the core, thereby promoting greater distance. Urethane-covered multilayer balls are softer than two-piece balls and can spin more when chipping and playing out of a bunker. Urethane is considered just as soft as balata but more durable and consistent.

Con: Many multilayer balls do not have a urethane cover, hence are designed for tour players with swings of 100-130 mph. Urethane covers have a tendency to slow the spin rate and thereby decreases the distance potential.

Examples of this type of ball are Ben Hogan Apex tour, Callaway HX and CTU, Maxfli M3, Nike TA2, Precept U-Tri and Tour Premium, Titlist Pro VI, Top Flite Tour and Wilson Tru Tour V. Price range is $25 to $50 a dozen.


Two-piece low compression
Pro: For moderate swing speed, these balls are at their best. You will find some balls in this group have low spin to improve accuracy and softer covers to improve feel.

Con: Spin will suffer with soft feel, making shots around the green a bit more difficult.

Examples are Maxfli Noodle, Nike Power Distance, Precept Lady and Laddie, and Titlist DT SoLo. Price range is $15 to $25 a dozen.


Two-piece performance
Pro: These balls have large cores and thin covers. As a result it may be easier for the core to compress when the ball meets the clubface, thus leading to greater distance.

Con: On short shots, spin is markedly reduced compared to the multilayer urethane ball.

Examples are Callaway CBI and HX, Slazenger Tour Platinum, Maxfli A3, Titlist NXT and NXT Tour, Top Flite Infinity and Wilson True Velocity. Price range is $20 to $30 a dozen.


Two-piece distance
Pro: Certainly less spin, hence less hook or slice. Higher launch because the polymer cover tends to slide up the clubface at impact. Harder covers will assuredly reduce damage to the ball from abrasion (miss hits). Finally, they are the cheapest, often less than a dollar a ball.

Con: Less spin! This may create problems around the green. The feel is lacking, but this isn’t too important for the mid-range handicapper.

Examples are Pinnacle Gold, Callaway Warbird, Top Flite XL and Wilson Jack. Price range is $10 to $20 a dozen.


Try to remember these facts when buying golf balls: Less spin with the driver can reduce hooks and slices. More spin with irons may help shots stay on the green close to where they land. An 8-iron swung at average speed of 75 mph results in similar distances, but produces more spin with the multilayer ball and the two-piece performance ball compared to the two-piece distance ball. The multilayer ball spins significantly more than two-piece models and flies at a lower trajectory. This seems to indicate that the urethane cover and multilayer design provides better precision.

Choosing the ball best suited for your game is a question of priorities. If you want distance, buy a two-piece performance ball. If you are looking for price and value, buy a two-piece distance ball. If you’re like me, buy the ball on sale or search the water hazards and play any ball you are lucky enough to retrieve.

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Let’s return to the humor in the game…

Author unknown: “I’ve spent most of my life golfing, the rest I’ve just wasted.”

Ray Floyd: “They call it golf because all the other four-letter words were taken.”

Pete Dye: “The ardent golfer would play Mt. Everest if somebody would put a flagstick on top.”

Jim Bishop: “Golf is played by 20 million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.”

Jack Benny: “Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.”

Jack Lemon: “If you think it’s hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball.”

Author unknown: “If I hit it right, it’s a slice. If I hit it left, it’s a hook. If I hit it straight, it’s a miracle.”

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