What Are The Different Types of Golf Balls? 

boy holding golf balls

If you have shopped for golf balls recently, you may have been a little overwhelmed by all the choices. There are dozens of different golf balls out there to choose from, and they all have characteristics that set them apart.

If you have ever wondered what the different types of golf balls are and how they can impact your game, we have you covered. This is a complete guide breaking down the different types of golf balls and what sets them apart. 

What Are The Different Types of Golf Balls

There are many ways to break down the different types of golf balls. However, the simplest is to categorize them into tour level, distance, feel, and women’s. 

Tour Level

The tour level golf balls are the premium options. The Pro V1 and the Callaway Chrome Soft would fit into this tour level category. With tour level golf balls, you can expect performance from the tee and spin around the greens. 

Distance

Distance golf balls work to maximize the distance you get on every single shot. This means that you can hit your driver far with plenty of roll but also hit your 7 iron far with plenty of roll. Distance balls don’t have excellent spin characteristics and features. 

Feel 

The feel of a golf ball can impact performance. Many golfers look for a soft feel in their golf ball. A softer feel can help with finesse around the green and also make it easier for a slower swing speed player to compress the ball to get the distance. 

Women’s 

A women’s golf ball is usually lower in compression and has a soft feel with plenty of distance technology. Women golfers do not need to play exclusively with a women’s golf ball; this is a series of products geared towards a specific woman player. 

Related: What Golf Ball Should I Use? Choosing the Right Golf Ball for You

titleist golf balls

How To Tell The Difference Between Golf Balls

Golf balls don’t always come with a label, so you have to know a bit about their construction and make up to understand the differences. Once you break this down a bit and determine the differences and how they impact your game, you can make a more informed decision as to which golf ball to use. 

Number of Pieces

If you want a quick indication of how a golf ball will perform, one of the best ways to do it is to look at the number of pieces. The number of pieces a golf ball has can give you information on the distance, compression, and spin characteristics of the golf ball. 

Two Piece

A two piece golf ball is usually a value ball built to increase distance in a golfer swing. With a two piece ball, you can expect quite a bit of roll and usually a lower spin. The technology and materials used to create two piece golf balls are not quite as impressive as others, so they are lower in price. 

Three Piece

The three piece golf balls make up the majority of the golf ball market. Three piece balls have an inner core, an outer layer that provides extra performance, and then the cover of the ball. A Pro V1 is a three piece golf ball, and so is the TaylorMade Tour Response. Within the three piece golf ball category, there are both premium and value golf balls. 

Four Piece 

Four piece golf balls like the Titleist Pro V1x are almost always tour level premium golf balls. The four piece design ensures that golfers get low spin from the tee and higher spin around the greens. Four piece golf balls typically have a great feel, but their compression is often high. 

Five Piece 

There are very few five piece golf balls on the market. The five piece golf balls are made to increase spin around the green while also increasing distance in iron shots, keeping ball flight control, and getting some ball speed from the tee. This is a premium option. 

Compression

The compression of a golf ball ranges from low to high, and the compression gives us an idea of what swing speed is needed to see better performance on the course. 

The general rule of thumb is that when compression is lower, it’s a better golf ball for a slower swing speed player. Slower swing speed players don’t have as much strength, speed, and power when they get to the impact position. 

Therefore a lower compression golf ball makes it easier to get distance, higher ball flight, and even better feel. 

Mid compression golf balls are for the average swing speed player, and high compression is for those with tour level golf swings. Compression is a range; sometimes you have to play around with a few different golf balls to find one that works for you. 

Low compression balls are those with compression in the 40-60 range. Then you move up to the 60-80 range for mid compression and finally the 80 and above for the higher compression golf balls. 

Dimples

Every golf ball manufacturer creates a golf ball with a different dimple pattern. The dimple patterns will impact the way the ball flies. 

Some dimple patterns create a lower ball flight; others encourage the ball to fly higher. The key is to find a dimple pattern that benefits you. However, most golf balls do not have a “bad” dimple pattern. 

Instead, the dimples are based on the company’s research and development and their results as to which pattern will impact the performance the best. Most golf balls have somewhere around 340 dimples, but the number varies. 

Core

The core of a golf ball is often considered the engine. With a high speed core, golf balls can travel considerably further, go higher in the air and have better distance performance. It’s important for golfers to understand that the core of the golf ball is built for distance, and the outer layers help with feel and precision. 

The average golfer will not be able to understand the differences in the core material and how it will impact their game.

That is fine. 

However, if you find a golf ball you really like, you may want to learn more about the core and what the manufacturer did to create this performance on the course. That technology can often be used to help you improve your skills long term. 

Cover

The cover of a golf ball is usually Surlyn or Urethane. There are other cover materials that some manufacturers will try, but they often have Surlyn or Urethane in them. 

Surlyn is an ionomer resin, and it is durable and affordable. The Suryln covers are great because they offer extremely low spin and are often used on distance golf balls. 

The Urethane cover are for premium golf balls. Urethane materials are found in premium golf balls, and they have a soft feel and tons of control. Although urethane is often not as durable as Suryln, there have been improvements through the years that have increased the overall durability of urethane golf balls. 

Color

Colored golf balls came up to help players see where their shots are landing. The yellow golf ball was one of the first options players had, but now golf ball manufacturers make golf balls in almost any color.

However, in addition to color, you can also find that the finishes of the golf balls have changed. Some offer a matte color to help reduce glare; others have patterns on the ball to help you understand if you are rolling the ball the proper way. 

Color comes down to a personal preference; however, some players find they have better concentration and visualization by playing with a particular color golf ball. 

Price

The price of a dozen golf balls ranges from around $20 a dozen to more than $50 a dozen. The cheaper golf balls are the two piece distance, and the more expensive are the four and five piece premium tour-level golf balls. 

We always try to discourage golfers from purchasing golf balls based on price alone. It is sometimes worth purchasing a slightly better golf ball and using it for several rounds. 

Many players believe that a golf ball can only be used once, but this is not the case. You can play several rounds of golf with the same ball, and it will not impact the performance that you are getting. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about the different types of golf balls. Don’t underestimate how essential golf balls are and how they impact your performance on the golf course. 

How many different types of golf balls are there?

Golfballs can be broken down into four categories, tour level, distance, spin, and women’s golf balls. Within each of these four different types of golf balls, there are many different performance attributes. 

What kind of golf ball should I use?

The golf ball you choose should match your swing speed as well as your preference for spin and distance on the golf course. Some golfers are concerned about getting a lot of distance; others are looking for the golf ball to stop on the green when they want it. 

Related: What Golf Ball Should I Use? Choosing the Right Golf Ball for You

What is the best golf ball for an average golfer?

Most average golfers find that a three piece golf ball with a soft feel is the best option for their game. 

How do you tell if a golf ball is hard or soft?

The best way to tell if a golf ball is hard or soft is to putt and chip with it. On the full swing, golf balls can feel very similar, but with the short game, you can feel a difference in the way that the ball feels. 

What golf ball goes the farthest?

Distance golf balls that are two pieces and contain a high speed core will go the furthest. 

Does it matter what color golf ball you use?

The color golf ball you choose is more for personal preference. Most of the time the yellow and white are the easiest to see. Some golfers play a particular color golf ball to match their personality. 

Are expensive golf balls worth it?

If you can feel and see the difference between an expensive golf ball and a cheap golf ball, then it may be worth switching. The better players notice when golf balls are made with premium materials, and therefore it makes sense for them to use this in their game. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you now have a better overall understanding of the different types of golf balls. The next part of this process is to find something that will work for your individual game. We encourage you to narrow down some of your choices and then purchase a sleeve of each. When you do this, you can play the ball for a few rounds, see its impact, and then make final decisions about what works best for your game. 

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Britt Olizarowicz

Britt Olizarowicz is a professional golfer with 30 years of experience playing, teaching, and competing. Britt currently resides in Savannah, GA, where she plays golf several days a week with her two young children.