The Great Golf Ball Search
How To Find The Best Ball For Your Game
By Tom Patri
With so many brands of golf ball overloading the marketplace, it’s difficult if not confusing to figure out which one best fits your golf game.
Here’s a sensible game plan to help you logically conduct and conquer The Great Golf Ball Search.
First, ask yourself what you are looking for:
A – Distance
B – Accuracy
C – Short Game: touch, feel, and spin
If you answer all three, the search is over, as far as I’m concerned … the Pro V1 family. Look no further. For me, Titleist’s premier line is the best all-around ball, regardless of skill level, to deliver all of the above traits. Market research and testing proves that. Period, end of discussion.
To me, anyway. For you, the discussion may be different. There are a lot of good golf balls out there. Either way, here’s my advice on finding the perfect ball.
If your answer is A – Distance, be careful, because by boxing yourself into the “distance matters most” request (granted, every manufacturer has a ball to fulfill this request), you are severely tying one hand behind your back when it comes to the touchy-feely scoring shots.
B – Many balls today with a bevy of dimple designs and patterns do a wonderful job of helping the average golfer hold their line in windy conditions, and in fact almost self-correct to a degree, minimizing those off-line shots when you make the occasional poor swing.
C – Some manufacturers advertise their “softer feel” ball for the lower-swing-speed player, and also tell you these balls feel better around and on the putting surface. When you see this type of ad on your TV, change the channel or leave the room. It’s nonsense.
Let me tell you a personal story that happened in winter 2018-19 in Naples, Florida, where I live and teach. I have been a Titleist Leadership Advisory Board Member for many years.
I’m prejudiced with reason. As a competitive professional player many moons ago, and before that a fairly successful college player, I had access to any golf ball I wanted to play. It had always been an incredibly easy choice to make through the years: Whatever was the Titleist premium ball of the time period was the ball of choice. In my experience, they always out-performed the other balls hands-down.
Anyway, in October 2018 I turned 60. Ouch — it hurts to type and look at that number. I wondered if it was time for the Old Pro to find a ball (in the Titleist line of course) that would help me find a few extra yards while not hurting me on the scoring shots (my bread and butter), on and around the green. In the past, I had gone on similar journeys and always found yardage, but hated the greenside touch and feel results. About that time, Titleist suddenly launched the AVX, and it was and still is receiving rave reviews.
I grabbed a dozen Pro Vs and a dozen AVXs. For three consecutive evenings, after I finished teaching, I went out and played holes on the golf course, hitting several drives, second shots, pitches, chips, sand shots, and putts with several of each ball. I then played several rounds with the AVX on my home course. I’m sure you know on your home track where you generally drive the ball, as I do, and how your regular ball reacts when you hit any particular club into a green, how it feels off the putter face, and so on.
With the driver, both balls were similar. The AVX was a bit longer in the air (about half a club) with my irons, and compared to any previous distance-type ball it had much better feel on short shots. Still, the Pro V won out across the board. Just more consistent, better feel, better all-around performance.
You may very well find a different result.
What you must do when contemplating a ball change is conduct side-by-side on-course testing, hitting many golf shots with every club in your bag over several days (conditions change, as do you). Then and only then will you be able to make a sound decision.
Take a hard look at the Darrell Survey results the last 100 years. Titleist is played by a landslide percentage of tournament professionals around the globe. A small percentage of world-class players are paid big bucks to play a particular ball, but the vast majority are not. Given the choice, those golfers still choose Titleist.
Whatever brand and model you choose, don’t base it on some ad, or your buddies’ prompting; do it based on your own mini-testing. Play the ball that performs best tee through green for you. It’s the only piece of equipment that is involved in every shot you hit.