When you walk into the ball aisle at your local golf store, you are presented with a staggering array of balls all claiming to be the best one for your game.
So, what factors should be top of your mind when looking for a ball that suits your game? How do you sort through all the options available to you?
There are several things to keep in mind. Here are some big things to consider.
The first thing you should consider is the amount of money you want to spend on a ball.
If you are a beginner or have a high handicap (greater than 20), you’ll want to simply find the best value for your money. A more costly ball is not going to improve your scores at your level, and when you lose a ball (as you inevitably will), you do not want to be worried about how much it cost you.
Even if you are a better player, however, the price of a ball should be something to consider.
I would strongly encourage you not to play the high-end balls (that cost more than $40 a dozen) unless you are considering playing competitive golf. Many balls that cost less will give you performance that will work just fine for your weekend rounds with your buddies.
Your Home Course
Another thing to consider is the kind of course you play most often. If you are playing a course with a lot of forced carries, you might need a ball that flies a little higher.
A course with smaller greens might call for a higher flying ball or one that spins a little more.
If you have narrow fairways, you might want one that spins less but keep in mind there is a trade-off as it will be harder to stop a ball like this on the green with approach shots and short shots around the green.
Obviously, if you have a long course to play, you might want a distance ball. On the other hand, you might move up to a shorter set of tees, if you have that option.
Your Style of Play
How do you like to play? Do you like to keep the ball low and run it up to the green, if you have that option? Do you like to hit the ball high and make it stop using either the angle of descent or spin to stop it?
Do you like to work the ball, playing fades and draws on command? You need a responsive ball to play that kind of game, so be prepared to spend a little more money.
How do you like the ball to feel off the club?
Do you like it to feel soft, or do you prefer a ball that feels like a rock when you hit it?
A lot of the multi-layer balls can be found that feel exactly the way you want, firm as a hotel mattress or soft as a marshmallow and anything in between.
Once again, though, do keep in mind that you’re going to pay more for a ball that feels softer if you don’t want to lose too much distance.
The best advice is to try a ball before you buy it if you have the means.
At most golf courses, you can purchase a sleeve of the balls in which you’re interested and play them for a couple rounds before making the commitment to a dozen or more.
If you have a friend who plays a certain brand, you can borrow one from them.
And, of course, there is always the most frugal way to try a ball. That is, find one on the course or in the basket of range balls you get before the round.