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Become A Ball Snob

We all have those things that we just won’t compromise on… good wine, purses, food, and the list goes on.  But when it comes to golf, are you one of those players that just uses whatever ball you happen to find or are you set on playing a specific ball (what I call a ball snob)?

If you’re the first, you may ask why it matters because “They’re all the same.” Ahh.  But they are not, and we know that they are definitely not priced the same either.  

FACT:  All available data shows the closer you can get the ball to green, the lower your score will be on the hole.  So hitting the ball as far as possible while keeping it in the fairway is your #1 priority.  And, which golf ball you play affects the distance your shots go and how much they tail off (since most of us slice). 

The question about what golf ball to play has been coming up in my sphere a lot lately.  I had one conversation with a friend of mine in Denver a few weeks ago (Sam) who suggested I look into changing balls.  I had it again the other day with my friend’s husband, David Enyeart, a golf professional here in Las Vegas at Bali Hai Golf Club.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized it might be worthwhile to explore.  

Few of us have any idea how to determine what golf ball is best for us to play.  We see the ads while we watch tournaments, we may read or hear about internal layers, spin rates and cover composition among other innovations.  It’s all so confusing to me. This post is my attempt to simplify finding the best golf ball for you. 

What is your swing speed?

First, you have to know how fast you swing your driver.  That’s your so-called clubhead speed.  You determine your clubhead speed by dividing the average carry distance (forget roll) of your drives by 2.3. reports that the average woman carries her drives 147 yards. That means the average woman golfer has a driver clubhead speed of about 65 miles per hour.

What are your options?

Titleist Tour Soft

Next, you can read articles like this one describing test results for balls that might be suitable for most women.  The Titleist Tour SoftSrixon Soft Feel and TaylorMade Soft Response show up consistently in these reviews for average women golfers.  All are less expensive than the top-of-the line balls from their makers.  For example, Titleist Tour Soft balls retail for $20 less per dozen than the Titileist ProvV1x.  So we can all worry less about losing a brand new ball in a pond.

Taylor Made Soft Response

Srixon Soft Feel

I decided to do my own test which delayed this post because I kept evaluating and changing my response here.  They go as far (if not farther off the tee) than the ProV1x I usually play.  They (the Titleist Tour Soft) feel almost the same with the putter, but I did notice they seem to be a bit jumpy (for lack of a better term) when I chipped.  I hit over several greens because they seemed to fly a bit lower with short irons and wedges. It seems that going into and around the greens I am not able to stop the ball as well as I am with the Pro V1x.  In the end, the only thing that matters is how I score with it.  This may not be an issue for some.  As I said, I’m still evaluating.

If you happen to be a low handicapper, you probably hit a higher end, 4-piece ball already.  Low handicappers will prefer a ball with more spin, generally premium priced balls provide more spin.  More spin means they have more control over their driver (less slicing) and more spin hitting into the greens which makes it easier for them to stop the ball.

The inside of a range ball

Range Balls:  I knew that range balls weren’t the best balls, but I didn’t realize that they are really the simplest form of golf ball made — basically called a one piece ball.  During my research for this post, I learned that most range balls commonly have a hard cover with a single layer inside.  Because they are hit so often and picked up by a tractor/machine, they are not reliable indicators of ball flight and distance.  Range balls really should be purely used for warming up.  Remember, we are not practicing before we play — we are warming up!

My suggestion is this:  Find balls that fit your club head speed, buy a sleeve and try them out on the course.  Use them for an entire round (or two) and see if you like how they feel.  Do they go farther?  Are they better around the greens?  Make sure to use the same make of ball consistently.  You cannot compare apples to oranges, or a Titleist Tour Soft to a Callway Chrome Soft, so again, make sure you’re playing with the same ball consistently throughout your round.  Best to do it also on a course you play regularly so you can accurately gauge the difference between both balls.

NOTE/UPDATE since this post came out: PGA SuperStores offers free golf ball fitting sessions at their 45 locations.  Yes, free. Step into their computerized tracking bays.  Hit your ball, try different ones they have in stock and then buy and use any you find that appear will perform better out on the course.  This is a comprehensive approach with a money back guarantee. Golf Galaxy offers much the same service at its 98 stores but charges $20 for the initial session. Other stores near you may also have programs like this worth investigating.

Hope this post saves you some money and gets you closer to the hole.

Thanks for tuning in.  If you find yourself digging my blog, please feel free to forward it to a friend who might also enjoy it.  As always, I would love to hear from you — feel free to shoot me an email to with any questions, comments or suggestions for future posts.  Coming soon:  Best of Survey.  Have suggestions, please let me know!

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