The days when a golf ball was a fairly simple device are long gone. Today’s golfers must consider many variables, such as the cover material, dimple pattern, the number of layers and, of course, compression. A golf ball’s compression measures how easily the ball changes shape -- is compressed -- upon impact. Soft balls have low-compression ratings because they compress easily. High-compression balls are firmer and should typically be used by players with higher swing speeds.
Bridgestone Tour B330
The Bridgestone Tour B330 balls have been among the highest compression balls manufactured in recent years, according to two separate compression tests performed annually by GolfBallTest.org. The 2006 Tour B330 measured at 116 and 111 in the two tests, on a compression scale that runs from about 70 to 120. Play the four-piece Tour B330 if your swing speed is at least 105 mph, advises “Golf Week” magazine. The ball’s relatively soft urethane cover is designed to offer players more control of short approach shots.
Callaway Hex Black Tour
Balls with the highest compression rates typically have multiple layers, and the Calloway Hex Black Tour is no exception. The five-piece ball posted compression ratings of 117 and 114 on GolfBallTest.org. The ball is much softer on the inside than on the outside layers, allowing for more spin on short wedge shots, which is helpful for players with good short-game ball control.
The Nike 20XI-X drew 116 and 115 compression ratings from GolfBallTest.org. “Golf Digest” notes that the 20XI-X is lighter than comparable balls, which helps reduce spin -- and, therefore, improves distance -- off the tee. But the ball retains a high spin rate on wedge shots, which helps skillful players maneuver the ball more easily and stop the ball on the green.
TaylorMade TP Black
With GolfBallTest.org scores of 117 and 115, the TaylorMade TP Black is among the highest-compression golf balls on the market. The three-piece ball is particularly firm in the middle layer but soft at the core to generate plenty of short-game spin. “Golf” magazine noted, however, that the heavy spin rate may make it difficult to hold wedge or short-iron shots on the green because of excessive backspin after the ball lands.
Callaway Tour I(z)
Callaway opted for a soft cover on its Tour I(z) ball, but don’t let that fool you. The ball’s 119 and 118 compression scores on GolfBallTest.org put it at the top of the high-compression list. The softer cover helps with feel around the green, and the ball’s hexagonal dimples are designed to reduce aerodynamic drag and produce more distance off the tee.
Wilson Staff TX4 Pro
The TX4 Pro matches Callaway’s Tour I(z) with GolfBallTest.org compression ratings of 118 to 119. The four-layer ball uses a thin cover and soft inner core to help provide the coveted high driver-spin/low wedge-spin formula. The ball’s shallow dimples are designed to produce more accuracy off the tee.