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Golf Ball Distance Comparisons

by
author image Patrick Hutchison
Patrick Hutchison has been doing freelance work since 2008. He has worked as a physical therapy aide and as a writer for various websites including Destination Guides and several travel-related companies. Hutchison has a Bachelor of Arts in history and anthropology from the University of Washington.
Golf Ball Distance Comparisons
Send the ball farther than ever before. Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Every golfer loves to crush long drives. Expensive clubs, hours of lessons and special golf balls are all purchased in the hopes of adding a few yards to the drive. The truth is that shot distance is based on dozens of factors, only one of which is the golf ball. However, comparing different types of golf balls can aid your distance blues.

Compression

A golf ball's distance rating is a measure of its compression. When a golf club strikes a ball, the force causes the ball to compress, much like a rubber ball when it is bounced on the ground. As the ball leaves the club face it returns to it's normal shape, springing off the face of the club. The amount it compresses is equal to the amount of force that is applied to it. Imagine a trampoline that is too loose or too tight. Neither scenario would allow you to jump. The key to long distances is finding the golf ball that matches your club head speed.

Labeling

Most golfers have slower swing speeds than professionals and should look for balls with smaller compression ratings that are better suited to their swings. In the past, most golf ball manufacturers would print the ball's compression rating on the ball for easy comparisons. But, inaccurate labeling became a problem and the practice was largely abandoned. As of 2011, most golf ball manufacturers use keywords to imply distance. Look for ball packages that are marked as "distance" or "long."

Considerations

Most distance golf balls are designed for amateurs. As a result, distance golf balls aim to remedy other amateur ailments besides lack of distance. Distance golf balls have dimples and materials that are meant to keep the ball on a straight flight path, avoiding accidental slices or hooks. Some players may find that distance golf balls, though farther flying, sacrifice too much in the way of workability and feel. Consider these characteristics when shopping for distance golf balls.

Comparison

Directly comparing golf ball manufacturers for distance is nearly impossible. A February 2008 article in “Golf” magazine revealed a test they had done on 54 different golf balls, measuring distance spin and hardness. While this test separated golf balls by distance, the differences were minor and the driver machine used had perfectly consistent swing speeds. At faster or slower swing speeds, the distance ratings would all change. The challenge is in finding the ball that matches your swing speed. In general, amateurs with slow swing speeds should look for a purely distance minded ball. Intermediate players should look for balls with added feel or spin and tour players should look for harder balls that have maximum spin.

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