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When it comes to golf balls, most people believe that more layers equal better performance on the course. While that’s true to a point with low handicappers, it’s not the case for everyone. In this post, we’ll cover 5 piece golf balls, what they are, and who should use them.
5 piece golf balls are designed for low handicap golfers that like 4 piece balls but need more speed and higher spin rates with their longer irons. Having more speed and spin with your longer irons will help improve ball flight and distance.
That being said, a 5 piece ball isn’t always right for everyone. There’s a reason most of the golfers on tour use a 3 or 4 piece golf ball (Pro V1 & Pro V1x mainly). There’s a lot more that goes into it, and the best thing to do is try them out for yourself.
What Are 5 Piece Golf Balls?
A five-piece ball consists of a urethane cover which is fairly soft, covering three mantle layers, one of a firm thermoplastic, the next of HPF 1000 (also a thermoplastic, but softer,) and the final one (closest to the core) of soft synthetic rubber. These layers all surround a synthetic rubber core.
The different mantle layers react to different swing speeds and strike actions in an effort to produce consistency and the best performance possible. This clearly shows that golf balls make a difference.
Five-piece balls were introduced by TaylorMade in 2010, via their ‘Penta’ model, but in over a decade the five-piece (or five-layer) ball has never quite caught the imagination of the golfing public.
You might imagine that Titleist and Srixon would certainly be using this configuration, but that’s not the case. Titleist’s Pro V1 and Pro V1X are 3 and 4 pieces respectively, and Srixon uses 2 and 3 piece golf balls almost exclusively.
On checking, I could only find eight golf balls that use a five-piece configuration:
- Callaway HEX Black Tour
- Callaway Speed Regime 2
- Callaway Speed Regime 3
- Taylormade Lethal & New Tour Preferred X
- Taylormade TP5
- Taylormade TP5X
- Taylormade TP5 Pix
- Taylormade New Tour Preferred X
What Do Additional Layers Do To A Golf Ball?
Manufacturers add layers to a ball for specific shot types and also to improve certain aspects of a golfer’s game. Usually, the core of the ball is where distance is created. Adding layers adds the possibility of spin, touch, feel and response.
A multi-layered ball is far softer off the clubface and spins well if hit correctly. You can see the difference between hard and soft golf balls here.
Layers added between the core and the outer shell are where control is given to the short irons and spin is limited, so the longer clubs – and the driver in particular – do not lose significant distance. The outer layer interacts with the golf club and adds control and is where backspin (that Holy Grail) is created.
One thing people sometimes get wrong is that more layers equals more compression. Golf ball compression is a big topic, but it has nothing to do with how many layers the ball has.
4 Piece vs 5 Piece Golf Balls
The main difference between a 4 and 5 piece golf ball is that the additional layer is used to increase ball speeds while keeping spin rates high with the longer irons. The 5th layer can also make the ball feel a little softer.
Golf ball creation is largely a matter of compromise: Increase spin and feel (usually with three or four layers) and you lose some distance and forgiveness.
Generally speaking, the more layers (or pieces) the more control, feel, and feedback you will get from a ball. I remember seeing an interview with a guy from Snell Golf, and he was talking about doing ball testing with Jim Furyk.
Whenever Jim would hit his 4 iron with a 4 piece ball, he had trouble keeping the ball in the air. He’d hit the ball and it would just dive down to the ground and not really go anywhere. Adding an extra layer increased his spin rates with the longer irons and allowed for more distance.
But the fact that only Callaway and TaylorMade make a five-piece ball seems to bring up the question, is more really better? Maxfli even tried a 6 piece ball that failed completely, so perhaps more is only better to a certain point?
RELATED: Golf Ball Layers Chart.
Certainly, a 4 piece is slightly harder than a 5 piece, so it should last longer, and one consistency in golf balls is that the price rises for every layer, so it is cheaper as well.
After trying each type of ball, I was unable to form an opinion regarding the feel of a 4 piece when compared to a 5 piece and I imagine only a very low handicapper will.
Do You Need A Ball With 5 Layers?
An elite golfer – preferably a 5 handicap or better – may get good use from this ball. They travel fairly far, and land like a dragonfly in a gentle breeze, offering a great feel and response. However, they don’t bode well for average golfers, and chances are, that’s you.
A high-speed swing is required and the results would be erratic at best in the case of double-figure handicappers, who would be far better served with a 2 or 3 piece golf ball.
These would be a little more forgiving, while still providing amazing touch and control, yet I still favor the 3 piece ball, which has certainly improved my short game.
The 3 piece delivers increased distance, more forgiveness and still maintains incredible control. It is also more durable and costs less than a 4 or 5 piece ball, but as suggested, the choice will largely depend on your handicap and your preferences.
As one of the guys in my local pro shop told me once, “More layers does not automatically mean lower scores, especially for average golfers.”
Granted, the adding of layers will help to a certain point in that two layers are better than one and three are usually better than two (as you get better). However, this pattern does not automatically translate beyond this.
4 piece and 5 piece balls are not necessarily better than 3-piece, although Titleist’s answer to the most popular Pro V1, the Pro V1x, does have an added layer. The result (in 2017’s ‘version two’ of the ball) is a higher spinning, higher-flying golf ball.
The Best 5 Piece Golf Balls
Callaway and TaylorMade are both leaders in the golfing equipment world, and we ignore their innovations at our own peril. The key advance in the extra layers of five-piece balls is that driver spin is significantly reduced yet wedge spin is maximized.
I took a look at which pro golfers use which balls and learned that almost 70% of the top-rated PGA pros, use Titleist Pro V1 (3-piece) or Pro V1x (4-piece), which is incredible, but some do use a 5 piece ball.
A TaylorMade TP5 or TP5x (one of the best low spin golf balls) is used by 8% of total golfers in this category (or more than 25% of the players not using Pro V1 or Pro V1x). Interestingly, these eight players have won eight majors between them.
- TaylorMade TP5 – Collin Morikawa & Matthew Wolff
- TaylorMade TP5x – Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Norlander & Harry Higgs.
Strangely, of the eleven PGA pros in the top 100 using Callaway balls, all eleven use Callaway Chrome Soft X – the ball used by Phil Mickelson for many years – and none use any of the three models of 5-piece ball produced by the company.
Based on this evidence and the number of majors won, It appears that TaylorMade’s TP5 and TP5x are the best of the 5 piece golf balls, but that’s just a guess, as we have no idea what sponsorship criteria may influence the players’ decisions.
Note: This post is part of our series on the different types of golf balls. If you’d like to know more about each type of ball, what the pros and cons are, and what you should be using, go check that out.
- Best Golf Balls For High Swing Speeds
- Do Low Or High Compression Balls Go Further?
- Best Low Compression Golf Balls
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