Do Golf Balls Actually Matter? (For Each Golfer Type)


Playing whatever ball you found in the bushes during your last round may or may not have an impact on your game. Every golf ball is slightly different, and in this post, we’ll be talking about if the ball you play really matters, and if it does, why that’s the case.

As a general rule, the golf ball you play matters more as you start getting better. As a beginner, the ball you play won’t make a huge impact on your game, but as you start shooting in the 80s, you’ll want to upgrade your ball.

Don’t get me wrong, playing the wrong golf ball won’t magically fix your game overnight. It also won’t take 10 strokes off your game. That being said, there are things you should be looking out for at different stages of your golf game. They might save you some money and they might save you a few strokes.

How Golf Balls Are Different

When it comes to golf balls, there are a bunch of different things to consider. Golf balls have different layers, different spin rates, different compression ratings, and a few others.

Most people just use whatever ball they found in the bushes the round before. That’s fine if you’re just out to hack the ball around, but if you want to improve, it’s probably not the best choice.

The reason balls are different is because they’re made for different people. A scratch golfer probably needs their ball to do different things than someone just getting started.

Here are things that could be different between golf balls:

  • Number of layers.
  • Core material.
  • Cover material.
  • Compression rating.
  • Driver spin.
  • Wedge spin.
  • Ball flight height.
  • Price.

In saying all that, the ball you should be playing will all depend on your skill level. Beginners and high handicaps need a few basic features for a good price. Low handicaps need a higher-end ball to give them the best results possible.

When you add extra layers, the way the ball performs changes. When you change the cover material, the performance changes. When you have a higher ball flight, your distances could improve or get worse. We’ll get into that next.

Do Golf Balls Matter For Beginners?

Generally speaking, beginners shouldn’t care about what golf ball they are using. An affordable ‘softer’ ball is all you should be worried about at this point. There is no need to chase a $5 Pro V1 into the water when you can hit $1 Top-Flites to your heart’s desire.

As a beginner, you are going to spend more time searching the woods and lakes for your shots than you are going to be lining up birdie putts, and that’s perfectly okay.

But when doing so, we don’t need to be worried about how much money we spent on the golf balls. We should be worrying about fixing the swing that put the ball in the lake, to begin with. 

Cost should be the major factor in choosing a golf ball as a beginner. The good news is that nearly every major golf ball brand has a budget ball designed as an entry point for beginning golfers. 

If there is a brand that you like, play it. Maybe you want the ball to match the brand of your clubs or bag, or maybe your favorite pro plays with a certain brand name.

Nearly every major brand from Titleist to Callaway to Top-Flite has a model that sits below or near $20/dozen, so there are tones of options to pick from. 

While it’s true that beginners shouldn’t worry about the ball in general, there are some aspects of the golf ball that might make your time on the course more enjoyable. A softer compression model like the Srixon Soft Feel will compress more off the clubface and produce a longer and higher ball flight than a harder golf ball. 

The soft compression will also limit the amount of spin created off the clubface, leading to straighter and more reliable shots. The downside of losing spin is the lack of spin on shorter shots, where the ball won’t be able to check back or stop the same as a harder golf ball.

RELATED: Do Low Spin Golf Balls Go Further And Straighter?

With all of this in mind, that doesn’t mean that cheaper is always better. I would caution buying used balls that may have sat at the bottom of the lake or the temptation of sliding a few range balls into the bag after a practice session.

Most range balls are limited flight balls designed to stay within the fences, and used balls are often weathered and have lost some of their pop off the clubface. 

Do Golf Balls Matter For High Handicappers?

As a general rule, high handicappers would benefit from a softer compression and lower spinning golf ball. High handicaps will likely go through their fair share of balls each round, and that’s why price should also be a factor.

High handicappers are golfers who regularly shoot in the 90s and low 100s. This is the point where the golf ball starts to matter.

Cost and control are still going to be primary concerns. However, at this point consistency is essential when we are trying to make the little adjustments in our swings to improve at the game.

While soft compression is still likely to help, it’s time to start thinking about other aspects of the golf ball as well; mainly its actual construction.

The first question you might want to ask is what kind of cover does the golf ball have? There are two main types of outer layers on golf balls, ionomer and urethane.

Ionomer cover golf balls are usually less expensive, more durable, and produce less spin overall. Most importantly, most ionomer balls will produce less side spin off the clubface, which should help high handicap players keep the ball in play. 

The inside of the golf ball may be just as important. Most balls at this point fall into a couple of categories; two-piece or three-piece.

Two-piece balls are usually more affordable, more durable and can also lead to less side spin on a golf shot. This is going to be ideal for beginners and high handicaps.

RELATED: How Backspin And Sidespin Affect A Golf Ball

I would recommend something that is still on the affordable side, but something that might start to produce the feel and consistency needed to make adjustments and improve our game.

Two-layer, soft compression with low driver spin is likely a great start for high handicappers. 

One of my personal favorites, and the ball currently in my bag, is the Vice Tour. I absolutely love the feel of these on all aspects of the course.

While it is technically a three-piece ball, its ionomer cover feels soft and I seem to really be able to keep the ball in play. Nice and long off the tee, but can provide some amazing feel and spin with my wedges.

Want A Ball Recommendation?

Not sure what ball is right for you? Click here to find out the best golf balls for average golfers. These are great options for high handicaps and beginners.

Do Golf Balls Matter For Mid Handicappers?

Mid handicap golfers are at a point where the golf ball they play really starts to matter. The main factor to look for is a ball that feels right and brings some consistency to your game. Increased wedge spin is also something to consider.

For me, a mid handicapper is anyone that can consistently shoot in the 80s. At this point, it’s likely time to put away the ionomer cover and move on to a urethane-covered ball.

This will produce a great deal more grip from the grooves of your irons and wedges produce much more spin and control closer to the greens. 

Similarly, it’s also likely time to move into a firmer compression three-layer ball. The extra layer will help you get more wedge spin, but it’ll also give you the most distance as your swing speed increases. That’s also why a higher compression ball is ideal.

A three-layer ball on the firmer side (75+ compression rating) is likely to be the best fit for mid-handicappers with swing speeds over 100 mph. For slower swing speeds, a lower compression rating would probably work better.

There really isn’t a single right answer for mid-handicappers because swing speeds will make a big difference. A softer compression ball will still help those with slower swing speeds, while a harder ball might be the right fit for those with faster speeds.

Most mid handicappers would benefit from a firmer golf ball that can produce more spin and control on the course. Anything between 70 and 90 would probably fit most swings.

I would still make the argument that golfers at this level should find a golf ball they like and stick with it for a while. Switching golf balls mid-round or even on a regular basis can provide feedback that may not produce the best results.  

Want A Ball Recommendation?

Not sure what ball is right for you? Click here to find out the best golf balls for mid handicappers.

Do Golf Balls Matter For Seniors?

Senior golfer’s skill levels can vary, and since that’s the case, the ball you play will depend on your swing speed. Assuming that most seniors are producing lower swing speeds, a softer ball that produces more compression off the face will provide more distance. 

It is a simple matter of physics. A slower swing speed produces a slower ball speed, which results in less distance. A softer, two-piece ball that can help produce more distance is going to be important to most seniors.

The Wilson DUO Soft+ is the softest ball on the market and would likely help most seniors get a few more yards and a higher ball flight with slower swing speeds.

If you’re a senior and are playing the same ball you did back when you were swinging faster, it could be doing more harm than good.

A harder three-piece ball coming off a seniors club could produce too much side spin and not enough power to produce the distance needed to play the hole. This could easily produce more erratic shots all over the course.

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Jon Webber

Just an average golfer trying to take my game to the next level. Was shooting around 100 not that long ago but have now been in the 80s consistently. Best round to date was 12 over. Best 9 holes were 4 over.

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