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.
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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.
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."
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.
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.