Which Ball Should You Buy? | Eddie Berman for Golf Digest
Pay the most you can until you and your skill level stop noticing a difference in performance. But it’s not just your handicap. Fact is, if you miss a lot of greens, you might need an expensive, high-spinning ball to help you get up and down more often. That said, don’t buy multilayer balls with urethane covers until you can get through a round without losing two sleeves. That’s not ball-fitting, that’s economics.
Depending on the source, the average golfer carries a handicap of around 16. Or, put another way, over half of the golfers playing on a typical Saturday morning are struggling to break 90. Myself included. Why then are so many of us out there spending so much money on premium golf balls?
Most of the folks doing the marketing would want us to believe that the damage would be even worse if we were to use anything less than one of their pricey multi-core miracles of science. But the price put on most of these miracles have many golfers shopping around to find more affordable options. Why pay $4 per ball if another company promises nearly the same performance at $2 per ball? And, why pay $2 per ball when yet another manufacturer promises better performance at $1 per ball?
It doesn’t take much Googling to come up with dozens of product tests for us weary golfers to plow through trying to find the best value to performance ratio in golf balls. And I previously pointed you to two excellent YouTube channels that have been focusing on this very topic as of late. All of which underlines the point that there are a bunch of golfers that feel the premium balls simply do not provide good value for money.
The big manufacturers do realize that this market tension exists so they produce other golf balls at lower price points. Titleist, for example, may be the king of the hill with their Pro V1 and Pro V1x, but they also sell their NXT Tour, NXT Tour S, Velocity, and DT Trusoft. A ball for every price-point and game. Or so the marketing folks say.
Personally, my game is so inconsistent that, while I can feel the difference when playing a premium ball versus a simple 2-piece ball, I’m not convinced that I see any difference on the card at the end of 18-holes. Perhaps one or two approach shots stop a little sooner. Maybe the ball is a little more consistent off of the tee. But, when your goals are fairways, greens, and limiting double-bogeys, paying more for premium balls quickly starts to sound silly.
But the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out) is always there. Would that drive have gone straighter or farther if I had a 4-piece ball? Would my approach have held the green instead of rolling through into the trap? Would my putting improve if the ball didn’t feel so “clicky” off of the face? Maybe. I’m just not sure paying twice as much for a ball I’m going to lose two or three of on a given day justifies the cost of finding out.
There is rarely anything wrong with paying for a premium ball even if you don’t currently have a premium game. Your game will rarely suffer. It’s your money and no one but you can decide how spending it improves your experience on the course. If teeing up the same ball played by the best in the world makes you happy have fun. But, for many of us, when saving 50% on a dozen balls means an extra round of golf comes back into the monthly budget, we will continue the search for the best performing ball at the lowest price possible. In a way, that’s part of the fun too.