Balls to the Wall
Let’s be honest here, most of us don’t really think much about the golf ball that we play. Hell, some of us strictly play ones that we find on the course and I don’t blame you! Golf balls can get expensive, especially if that new box you got had a better splash factor than smash factor. It’s tough thinking about shelling out money for ammo that can easily get lost. Sounds like a poor investment, until you consider how much you have been spending on everything golf related to try and lower your score. Yes, you did just catch my subtle hint there, a proper golf ball can lower your score. With lower scores, hopefully that means you didn’t hit as many into the water either. Funny how that works out. Still don’t believe me? Then let’s break down 3 major factors when it comes to golf ball selection: spin, compression, and feel.
Spin has a larger effect on ball flight than you can imagine. If the ball spins too much, you can lose crucial yardage and be forced to watch it spin off greens. This can also lead to too much side spin, turning your fades and draws into hooks and slices. Spin is also what helps you achieve more accuracy with your short game. It allows your ball to check, bite, and stay where it lands when you need it to. Spin is a double-edged sword, while too much spin can be dangerous, so can too little spin. If the ball doesn’t spin enough off the tee it will nose dive and you won’t be able to maximize your carry yardage. It will also be darn near impossible to hold a green unless they are soggy and the ball just buries. Now that we have missed the green with our approach shot that didn’t hold, we are left with a chip shot. Doesn’t it drive you crazy when you feel like you barely hit your chip and you are forced to watch it roll all the way across the green and hear the dreaded “it’s still your turn”. This likely wouldn’t happen if you had some more backspin on that ball. So, let me just wrap this one up for ya; proper spin allows you to maximize yardages, hold greens, and be more accurate with your short game. When was the last time you checked your RPMS?
Now on to compression, the more confusing aspect of the golf ball. To try and solve this mystery we have to understand what it is. To illustrate this for you, watch this badass video or just looks at this lovely picture if you are lazy.
See how the ball flattens when it smacks into that darn house we hit? Well, we do that on a smaller scale when we Happy Gilmore it right up the gut (and hopefully not in the woods). The importance of this is realizing how much energy is stored and released when we compress the ball. If there is not enough compression or too much, we waste valuable energy and lose valuable yardage and control. Why spend all that time practicing the perfect release to maximize energy transfer if the ball can’t keep up? There is a reason why there are golf balls that are geared for swings that are faster, slower, and everything in-between. Yardage isn’t everything, compression also affects your control. A lower compression golf ball can give you extra yardage, but you can lose a bit of control. While a harder golf ball will give you tons of control, but you may sacrifice a few yards. This is why higher skilled players will normally go for a harder ball, especially if distance isn’t a problem for them. If you have the perfect combination of proper compression and spin, the ball will carry the yardage you want and react they way you imagined once it hits the green.
The last major factor in picking a golf ball is more up to the player, feel. It’s one of those things that can be hard to explain, but when you hit it, you know exactly what I am talking about. Yes, it’s an experience. When you make contact with a ball that fits your swing and feels just the way you prefer, it’s the start of a new relationship. It’s like Goldilocks if she had a golfing problem instead of breaking and entering and stealing bears soups. This one is too soft, this one is too hard, now this one; this one is just right. Having feel isn’t just a nice feeling on the hands, having feel with the ball also means that you are in control. Each shot you must deal with, you know exactly where the ball struck on the club face, where it’s going, and what it’s going to do. Feel is your relationship with the ball after some time. You know each other’s tendencies and play accordingly. It does not feel like you are tapping a marshmallow when you are putting, or like a rock with your approach shots. Feel is encompassing both the sensation of a well struck shot and the control of what that shot is going to do. If you don’t like the feel of the ball, that’s your subconscious telling you “this isn’t right”.
Now that you have listened to me blabber on about the importance of the golf ball, there is only one thing left to do; find the one that’s right for you. Find a launch monitor and go balls to the wall until you find the one that’s “just right”.
special thanks to Golf Digest and Academy for their cool photos.