People often ask me why I play my Chromesoft X LS golf ball every time I play. Even more often than that, they ask what ball they should use. I figured I could write this post to answer the question.
Golf balls vary a lot more than most people think they do. They have different numbers of layers, different compression ratings, different covers, and different feels. Some feel soft. Others feel like you hit a rock, which is not ideal for anyone. The other thing you must consider is the cost of each ball. If you lose a lot of golf balls, you probably shouldn't play Pro V1s.
There is no perfect golf ball for each individual, they all come with downsides, but if you keep it constant, your game will get better automatically. The one thing you must try to do is play the same ball every time.
What Do I Look For?
Performance, plain and simple. Does the ball spin the right amount? Does that ball feel soft around the greens, so I can control my shots? Does it make me lose distance? If I lose too much, that ball is out. If I don't like how it feels coming off the clubface, off the putter, wedges, it's gone. The most outstanding golf ball for you will feel right and perform correctly. If performance data is on point, then I look at the score. If I can't score with it, the data don't matter.
A great example is the Taylormade TP5 and TP5X golf balls. They are terrific golf balls, and they perform admirably. In fact, they are longer than any other ball I have played. However, I can't putt with them. I wish I was kidding, but every putt I hit with them goes 8 to 10 feet by the hole. I switched back to my Callaway Chromesoft X LS, and putts started stopping right next to the hole. It sounds crazy, but golf balls really do this much.
Using the Same Ball
I am a huge proponent of using the same golf ball every time you play. I've switched golf balls here and there, but I have never just used a ball for a round and then stopped using that ball. By that same token, I have never used a ball I found on the course unless it is specifically the golf ball I am currently using.
I got fit for a golf ball in high school; at the time, it was the Bridgestone B 330. I stayed with it as soon as I got fit for the ball. My swing coach at the time lectured me on using the same ball every time I played. He said there could be a carry distance difference of 10 yards from a 60 yard shot from one ball to another. Well, that is a lot of miss if you're changing balls.
I stuck with Bridgestone until an internship I had in College, where the shop didn't sell Bridgestone. So I switched to Callaway to make use of the shop discount. I played the ChromeSoft that summer, and it was great around the greens; my word, it was so soft around the greens, but I lost 30 yards off the tee. When I left, I went back to good ol' Bridgestone. Then later, a buddy of mine had a few hundred Pro V1X's that he just gave me, so I started playing them for a while. Until I ran out, and their price hiked up. I went back to my Bridgestone. Then a couple years ago, a friend's wife started working for Callaway; she could get me a deal sometimes, so I started using the Chromesoft X, then the Chromesoft X LS came out, and it was a game changer. I loved using that golf ball, so I use it today. I may switch to Titleist or back to Bridgestone in the future, but I like Callaway and have no reason to change unless the ball stops performing.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, let's talk about the different characteristics a ball can have and what that might mean to you. Because, let's be honest, you don't give a crap until you understand how it will affect you!
Like an onion or an Ogre, golf balls have layers. (Shrek reference! They said I couldn't; they were wrong!) Anyways, you will often see advertisements about golf balls talking about the layers, but what does that mean? Why does it matter? Well, different layers mean the golf ball will perform differently. It isn't all marketing talk, I promise! Each layer or piece is something different. The biggest on any golf ball is the core. It has the most significant effect on the launch and spin of full swing shots.
Then you have the cover, it is what contacts the face of the club, it has the color you see, it is that outside most layer. The cover generates spin on wedge shots, not so much on iron shots. This will create friction with the irons and wedges to help give you more spin.
The middle layers are very complex. Mainly they help the other layers do their jobs. On short shots, it helps the cover compress and deform to create more spin. It works with the core on longer shots to create higher ball speeds.
What does this mean?
The different layers have different effects and create various ball performances. With the proper core, you can hit the ball further, and with the right cover, spin it around the greens.
But what does a 2-piece ball vs. a 3 or 4-piece ball mean? Most tour performance golf balls are 3 to 4, with the TP5 being a 5-piece ball. So these balls will all perform differently based on their dimple count and layers, what the core is made of, and what the cover is made of.
How does that affect you?
Well, to keep it simple, if you have a ball with multiple layers, you should read the back of the box the ball came in and find out what each layer is meant to do, and see if it sounds right for your game, but in the end, you should look at performance on a trackman or other launch monitor/simulator. Compare these numbers with the spin numbers tour pros get, and you will have a good idea if you are spinning the ball enough. Then check out the distance. Ensure you maximize distance while keeping spin. Then check around the green. Check how they react upon hitting the green and the launch angle with your wedges. These are all factors that weigh into ball selection.
What Ball Should You Use?
I recommend you choose a company you like and research their golf ball selections. They usually give club head speed recommendations. This is your average driver club head speed, not that top speed you hit once ripping at the superstore. No, this is average club head speed. Take that and grab a sleeve of each brand you like. Try out Kirkland and Vice if you can. Both have great cheap balls. Take a sleeve of each to your local simulator rental spot. Many places will let you rent time on a simulator, especially indoor golf places, use your golf balls on the range and watch spin and distance numbers. If that ball is at a price you can stomach, use the best performing! Just use it every single time.
All of this technical jargon doesn't mean much to an average player. What you need to keep in mind is: if you hit a ball far enough, and score well with it, use that ball every time.