What Is the Difference Between Golf Balls?

By Bill Herrfeldt
Softer golf balls are ideal for shots around the green.
Softer golf balls are ideal for shots around the green.

If you have a high golf handicap, the ball you choose to hit makes little difference. If you like a particular brand of golf ball or prefer one type of ball over another, you should use it regularly. But as your game improves, the ball you use can make a difference in a number of ways. Some golf balls fly a longer distance and some allow the player to have more “feel” of the shot, while others make it easier to impart more backspin. It all depends on the importance you place on each.


We have come a long way since the days of the so-called “Featherie” or Gutta Percha golf ball. Today, you have your choice of golf balls that are made in two pieces that have only a core and a cover. These balls are generally for golfers looking for distance. Then there are golf balls that are wound with something akin to a long rubber band that is stretched tightly over a core and then covered. They are said to give the golfer both more feel and better spin. The third type, one made in multiple layers, can be classified as an “everyman's” golfball because it allows a golfer to hit his drive long, while allowing him reasonable feel and spin capability.


Golf balls generally have an 80, 90 or 100 compression, or degree of hardness. For a long time, compression equated to how far a player could hit the golf ball. But recently, it's been established that an 80 compression ball will travel as far as one that's rated 100. However, there is a difference in the way the golf ball feels when it is hit. If your swing speed is relatively slow or you play golf in cooler weather, you may find a lower compression ball more to your liking.


Contrary to popular belief, dimples do not affect the amount of backspin you can impart on a golf ball. However, dimples do affect how long a golf ball stays in flight and, therefore, how long you can hit the ball. The best engineering minds in the world are working for golf ball manufacturers to create the industry's longest ball, and working with the configuration of the dimples is part of their challenge.

About the Author

Bill Herrfeldt specializes in finance, sports and the needs of retiring people, and has been published in the national edition of "Erickson Tribune," the "Washington Post" and the "Arizona Republic." He graduated from the University of Louisville.

Photo Credits

  • Golf ball waiting to be putted image by rusty elliott from Fotolia.com
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