The importance of getting the right golf ball:
A large percentage of the UK’s golfers now look towards custom fitting when it comes to purchasing golf clubs. Simply picking up sticks off the rack and putting them in the bag is no longer the way forward. If you’re 5 foot 8 inches with a slow, flat swing you’re clearly going to need different clubs to someone standing 6 foot 3 inches with a fast, upright action.
It used to be something only Tour pros could benefit from, but now all golfers can see the merits of using the correct shaft for their swing speed, the correct length of club and correct loft and lie angle for their set-up. It can dramatically change an amateur golfer’s game.
But there’s one item of equipment that every golfer uses, for every shot from the tee to the cup, yet remarkably few have any idea if it’s right for them – the ball.
A high percentage of golfers just play a premium ball because they know the brand and simply trust it must be right. On the other side, many golfers will simply play whatever ball they have handy, or whatever is on sale cheap.
Basically, a huge number of golfers are currently using a ball that isn’t suited to their game, and that seems crazy. So what are the options for finding the ball that can maximise your performance?
Talk to your professional
Rather than taking a punt on whatever’s going for a snip on one of the online discount retailers, go into your local pro shop and have a discussion with an expert. Explain your game to the pro: Where your strengths and weaknesses lie; How far you hit the ball; What you want from your game, be it more distance, more spin or improved feel. As an example Mizuno, a brand renowned for making irons that offer exceptional feel, strives to produce golf balls that also deliver the highest levels of feel and performance.
Your pro will be able to direct you towards the models of balls, from different manufacturers, that are designed to assist players with your requirements.
Go through a fitting
Many of the manufacturers offer a specific ball-fitting process. Bridgestone for example, runs ball fittings at clubs across the country. At these events you hit balls into a net with a driver, starting with the ball you currently use and then various Bridgestone models. Launch monitor technology produces data on spin rate, ball speed and launch angle. You can try hitting a number of different ball models and the computer system will produce side-by-side results. You can then make a comparison and, with the help of the fitting specialist, select the best.
Conduct your own trials
You can learn a great deal from the numbers produced by a launch monitor, but it’s difficult to make the right decision until you see how a ball performs on the course: How it feels around, and on, the greens, how it reacts in strong winds, the trajectory it produces etc. Buy sleeves of a few different models or, even better, your pro might have some trial samples. Play a few holes, or perhaps a round with each and see which you’re happiest playing with.
Don’t be proud
Premium balls, be it the Titleist Pro V1, the TaylorMade TP or equivalent, will not suit all players. Just because they are the most expensive balls on the market, doesn’t mean they’re the best for you. If you check many top ball manufacturers’ websites there are online fitting tools to help you choose the model that will benefit your game most.
So take 15 minutes to speak to your pro about the golf ball, conduct some on-course trials, or even better – arrange a ball-fitting session. Taking a more considered approach to golf ball selection could well improve your golf and increase your enjoyment of the game as a result. It must be worth a try!