High vs Low Compression Golf Balls: Which Goes Further?


When it comes to golf balls the general consensus over the years has been that high compression is for better players while low compression is for high handicaps. That could be true in a sense, and in this post, we’ll be talking about whether high or low compression balls go further.

As a general rule, low compression golf balls will go the same distance or further for golfers with swing speeds below 100 MPH. Once swing speeds exceed 100 MPH, higher compression balls will generate more distance.

The statement above is mostly true, in my experience, but you’ll need to make sure the swing speed and smash factor are the same. If one of those numbers is higher then it could impact the results you get. Anyways, if you’re curious about the test we did, continue reading.

Do Low Or High Compression Golf Balls Go Further?

“You really shouldn’t be playing with a Pro V1x ball. It’s for really good players with a super-fast swing speed. It’s not for people like you with a medium or slow swing speed.”

That is exactly what I was told in a golf pro shop when I said I was using the famous Titleist ball. Yes, it’s high compression and the received wisdom is that they’re for really good players only. Mid and high handicappers should be using mid and low compression balls because they’re softer and fly further.

But is that true? We decided to put the Titleist Pro V1x and the Bridgestone e6 balls to the test.

They’re at opposite ends of the golf ball compression chart. The V1x is high compression and the e6 is lower compression. You can see the softest and hardest golf balls here.

Many will have you believe that compression is the most important factor when choosing a golf ball. Compression is simply a measure of how hard the golf ball is.

The lower compression – or softer the ball is – the more it squashes on the clubface and then springs forward. A high compression ball is firmer. And in days of old, you needed a faster swing speed to compress a harder ball enough to make it fly.

But golf ball technology has moved on massively. In Titleist’s ball fitting manual, this is what they say:

“Many golfers are mistakenly led to believe that they should be fit for a golf ball based solely on their driver swing speed. This is a flawed approach. The truth is that every golfer has many different swing speeds, not just one.”

They also mention:

“There are a number of important factors to consider when deciding which golf ball is best for you, but swing speed should not be one of those factors. At Titleist, we design and produce golf balls to deliver total performance at every speed, with every club, on every shot, not just the 14 drivers you may hit in a round.”

The first thing I noticed in the tests between the e6 and the V1x is that they do feel very different off the clubface. The e6 feels really soft and the V1x feels really firm. That is of course stating the obvious. But what surprised me was how noticeable it was.

RELATED: Soft vs Hard Golf Balls

The ball is on the clubface for a nanosecond and I’d never noticed the different feel of different golf balls that much before. But I really did in this test. What does that mean for the shot?

I have a medium swing speed with my driver – around 90mph with a max of 95mph – and I did most of the testing over very cold and gray UK days. Having a softer ball did give me more confidence that the ball would go further. But was that borne out in the numbers? 

Before we do dive into the test results, it’s worth highlighting the price difference between these balls. The V1x are an eye-watering $54/£45 for a box of 12 while the e6 is a fraction of that – at $23/£18, at the time of writing. 

But this isn’t a test about price. It’s about compression. So let’s start with a slow swing speed, at which lower compression balls are aimed.

Slow Swing Speed

Anything below 85mph with a driver is considered a slow speed for men. As Titleist says, you hit about 14 driver shots in a round. So in seven shots with each ball, ranging from 78mph to 85mph, the averages of each hit show that the Titleist actually went slightly further, with a caveat.

Here are the averages of the seven hits:

BallClub speed averageSmash factor averageCarry distance average
e683mph1.394164 yards
V1x83.71mph1.394169 yards

So with the Titleist ball, my swing speed over the seven shots was slightly faster, but the smash factor – how well I hit the ball off the centre of the club – was identical. The V1x went slightly further – but of course with a slightly faster swing speed, on average. 

What does that tell us? There’s not much difference between the balls with a slower swing speed.

But this stat is perhaps the most interesting because the shot was identical, in terms of swing speed and smash factor:

BallClub speedCarry distanceTotal distanceSmash factorBall speed
e685mph179 yards199 yards1.44123mph
V1x85mph176 yards196 yards1.44122mph

So the Bridgestone ball came off the clubface slightly faster – 123 miles an hour versus 122 for the Titleist. It went three yards further. Those three yards might be vital to you.

It could mean the difference perhaps between being at the front of the green or being pin high. And that could be the difference between a par and a birdie of course. 

But for me, it’s not that significant. If it was ten yards of difference, then yes. Three yards is neither here nor there. But I do think it explodes the myth that high compression balls are only for players with high swing speeds.

At least that’s the case with modern ball technology. Overall, both balls performed really well. You can also see more of the best golf balls for slow swing speeds here.

In terms of flight, I was surprised at how high the V1x flew. I’ve used the e6 before and knew that it flies high and straight, with a good hit. But the V1x surprised me with its high flight. Titleist would say they’ve designed it that way. 

Both balls flew fairly straight. I have a fade in my shot shape but neither ball seemed to make this worse (or better). Golf ball spin is a big topic these days and if you want to know do low spin golf balls go straighter, then be sure to read that.

Average Swing Speed

So, how did the balls compare in an average swing speed test? This is where most golfers sit, so based on 12 shots with each ball, here were the averages:

BallClub speed averageSmash factor averageCarry distance average
e689.83mph1.40186.91 yards
V1x89.161.39182.91 yards

So what does that tell us? The differences again are marginal. The e6 went four yards further but the swing speed was slightly faster and the strikes were slightly better, based on the averages. 

Here are two more stats from that test, where the shots were very similar:

Shot #1:

BallClub speedCarry distanceTotal distanceSmash factorBall speed
e689mph184 yards205 yards1.40125mph
V1x89mph184 yards204 yards1.41125mph

Shot #2:

BallClub speedCarry distanceTotal distanceSmash factorBall speed
e691mph194 yards215 yards1.42129mph
V1x91mph191 yards212 yards1.40128mph

Remember, most of these tests were done on a very cold day. That’s the normal range of my swing speed – 90mph to 95mph. 

For the testing, I used my Garmin G80 which has a built-in launch monitor. When I picked up the balls, either from the fairway or from the practice ground at my club, it was exactly as the stats on the Garmin showed. The e6 balls were slightly further ahead – but marginally. 

In terms of shot shape, again I didn’t notice a huge difference. The V1x didn’t make my fade any worse, which might be another argument for avoiding high compression, and high spin balls.

RELATED: How Backspin And Sidespin Affect A Golf Ball

Fast Swing Speed

Even with my best efforts, I couldn’t get my swing speed beyond 100mph. Well, it was cold. Did I mention that? So I enlisted the help of one of my golf buddies.

Steve bombs the ball down the fairway – so much so that he was once applauded by a crowd of guys sitting outside our clubhouse when he teed off on the first. He was embarrassed and rushed off down the fairway as fast as he could. Now me – I’d have been taking a bow! 

His swing speed range is between 110mph and 115mph. He normally plays a Titleist Pro V1 but I think he’s now a convert to the V1x. He liked the ball flight and the shot shape. He also has a slight fade but the V1x didn’t make that any worse.

It’s fair to say that the V1x (and probably Bridgestone’s Tour B X) is well suited to his driver shots. Again though, the difference wasn’t huge. Check out the stats based on one identical hit:

BallClub speedCarry distanceTotal distanceSmash factorBall speed
e6112mph258 yards287 yards1.39155mph
V1x112mph262 yards291 yards1.39157mph

The V1x went four yards further. And that’s enough to make Steve want to use it. His only concern, like mine, was that it does feel very firm on the clubface and the e6 does have a nicer feel on each strike. But the e6, of course, isn’t designed for a player like him anyway.

RELATED: Best Golf Balls For High Swing Speeds

Should You Use A Low Or High Compression Golf Ball?

Well, that depends. All ball makers make a range of balls with different compression ratings – and a whole host of other factors – for different types of players. You can see the different types of golf balls here. 

Bridgestone also makes a high compression ball – the Tour B X. It’s what Bryson DeChambeau uses. Oh to have his swing speed! It says it’s designed for players with swing speeds above 105mph. 

Both Bridgestone and Titleist have an interactive guide on their websites to help you choose the right ball. It asks questions such as shot shape and what your priorities are.

Also, Bridgestone has a different approach to Titleist on compression. They say 90 percent of golfers swing at less than 105mph and that they have designed softer compression balls that maximize performance for those swing speeds.

They add: “If you are looking for a straighter ball flight, we’ve got a ball for that! Looking for more greenside spin, we’ve got a ball for that. All golfers, regardless of age, skill or gender, can benefit from playing the right ball for your game.”

But is compression a key factor in choosing a golf ball? I would argue that it’s not as important these days. The technology has moved on enough to make it not as big of a deal as before. That being said, it’s still something to consider, and if you’re curious, you can see the best low compression golf balls here.

What’s more important is what gives you the most control – for longer shots and around the greens. In Canada and the UK, our greens have started to firm up after winter, and having a ball with more spin to stop it from rolling off the back is key. For me at least.

And, arguably, mid and high compression balls give you more control around greens.

Of course, if budget is the main factor, a low compression ball will still perform very, very well, as these tests have shown. And the Bridgestone e6 and balls such as the Srixon Soft Feel are a fraction of the cost of a V1x – especially if you regularly hit your balls out of bounds, never to be seen again. 

But what should you use, even if budget is your main consideration? Bridgestone and Titleist agree completely on this and I think they’re right – get a fitting for the right golf ball to suit your game.

It’s arguably more important than getting fitted for anything else. It could save you some vital shots and help you enjoy your game even more!

Note: This article is part of our series on what golf ball compression you should use. If you’re unsure what is right for you or what the pros and cons of each are, check out that guide.

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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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