Best Golf Balls 2023
Best Golf Balls 2023: Introduction
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What are the best golf balls to buy this year? Well, there is no simple answer since it will depend upon your ability and budget.
For the different budgets and categories of golfers, I’ve listed a number of potential golf balls for you to try. Only by testing them on the course can you tell if you like the feel and performance of the ball.
Type of play
If you’re just playing casual golf with your friends then as long as they are in agreement you can purchase any ball you like. That includes a number of balls that don’t conform to the normal rules of golf.
If you want to play in recognized competitions that will affect your handicap then you need to use a ball that appears on the conforming balls list. The list that is produced by the USGA/R&A.
You would normally have to go out of your way to find balls that don’t comply. The vast majority of balls on sale in a pro shop or online are going to be fine.
You may come across what are known as X-out balls. These balls are sold off cheaper by the manufacturers because they have some defect which means they may not conform to the rules of golf.
Beginners and High Handicappers (Handicap Greater Than 18)
Many beginners and high handicappers probably place the highest importance on the cost of the ball. This is because they are more likely to lose multiple balls every round. Since few people can afford to spend $50 per round on balls many beginners will look at the lower-priced balls.
One option would be to use lake balls or reconditioned balls.
Another consideration for golfers in this category is to try and find balls with a lower spin rate. They are more likely to hit shots that curve left or right and therefore reducing the spin rate of the ball would reduce the amount of curve on their shots.
Lake balls are also sometimes known as found balls. They have been recovered from one of the many water hazards found on a golf course and then repackaged for resale. It is in fact a very lucrative business with some divers making $150,000 per year. Some estimates put the number of golf balls lost in the US alone at over 300 million per year. While not all of those will end up being resold you can see that it is a very big business.
There is only one problem with using lake balls. Their performance may have degraded depending upon how long the ball has been sat in the water. This would be less of a problem if you are only using them for practice or casual golf.
Savings can be quite large with a bucket of 96 mixed Srixon balls costing around $70. If you’re likely to lose half a dozen balls a round then that is much more palatable than losing six Pro V1’s at $5 a time.
Brand New Balls
A lower spinning ball and also lower compression so should feel soft even for those with a slower swing speed. Not too expensive either.
Srixon Soft Feel
A low compression ball for that soft feel even for slower swingers. Designed for distance and with a useful alignment aid already printed on the ball to help you line up your putts.
Intermediate Players (Handicap 10 to 18)
Players at this level are likely to be looking for better performance. Not so concerned about losing balls and so cost considerations may weigh less on their decision making.
Players at the lower end of this handicap spectrum are most likely looking to maximize their spin. They are looking for control on their greenside shots and approaches. Players towards the higher end of this handicap range are still a little concerned about generating too much side spin. They are often capable of hitting many good shots in a round.
They might still consider lake balls as an option for practice or casual golf. It is likely that players who have reached this level are going to be looking for brand new balls.
Brand New Balls
Titleist Tour Speed
Offering exceptional distance and a urethane cover to give excellent spin control. A good choice for mid handicappers who don’t want to spend $50-$60 on a dozen balls.
Srixon Q Star Tour
Offering many of the features of their premium Z-Star range. These would be a good choice for mid handicappers on a budget.
Callaway ERC Triple Track
Another ball featuring a unique alignment aid to help your putting. Quite good value for money.
Low Handicap Players (Nine Handicap and Below)
Once you reach this level then you really are looking at balancing performance with cost. Losing balls shouldn’t be too much of an issue once you get down to single figures but it’s really whether you can afford to pay $50-$60 for the premium balls.
My personal advice would be to try and look out for deals with logo overruns or when the model is about to change. You can then pick up a healthy discount.
Lake balls are unlikely to be considered unless the budget is really tight. Perhaps some people might use them as practice balls. I know I do as well as any balls that have gotten a bit too scuffed up from playing with them.
At this level players will usually develop significant brand loyalty. Traditionally that has been with Titleist. TaylorMade have made significant gains recently with a number of players on professional tours switching to the TP5/TP5x.
The best advice I can give would be to test out a selection of balls to see which you prefer. If you’re playing off a low handicap then I would assume you would care most about their performance on and around the green.
Brand New Balls
This ball started the revolution in 2000, moving away from wound balata balls to the solid, urethane-covered balls that we see today. Still the most popular ball on the major golf tours with roughly ⅔ of the players using it in every tournament.
Feel is also an important part with the x model being slightly firmer than the ordinary Pro V1.
In a recent British Amateur Championship almost 10 times as many people used the Pro V1/Pro V1x as the nearest competitor!
Srixon Z-Star/Z-Star XV
Srixon’s equivalent to the Pro V1 and also the ball I play most often. This is mainly because it’s a lot easier to find deals on it than the Pro V1 but I also think any difference in performance is marginal. If you tend to generate a lot of spin then you might find the XV model suits you better.
A total of five layers in this ball which has become quite popular on professional tours. It offers high levels of control and some players said they find the ball holds its line better in windy conditions compared with the Pro V1.
Callaway Chrome Soft/Chrome Soft x
Have you noticed how every manufacturer seems to make an ‘x’ version of their ‘tour’ ball. I wonder who they could be copying?
Offering a combination of lower spin rates off the tee but higher rates around the greens. Exactly what many players are going to be looking for at this level.
The Callaway Chrome Soft is a solid offering.
Best Balls for Ladies
Female golfers will need to pick a ball based on their standard of play and their budget in the same way that men do.
In general ladies golf balls have a lower compression because women tend to have slower swing speeds.
Beginners and high handicappers are probably losing lots of balls and so will be primarily concerned with the cost. Again lake balls are an option although it’s probably harder to find lake balls with only lady versions of golf balls.
New Balls for Ladies
Srixon Soft Feel Lady
A low compression, soft feeling ball that should be ideal for the average beginner or high handicap lady. You should be able to pick up a dozen fairly cheaply.
Bridgestone Lady Precept
Another ball to suit the higher handicap lady with a low spin and low compression construction. A combination that is ideal to minimize the sidespin on your mishits and yet give a soft feel.
An oversize construction that still conforms to the rules of golf. The Reva is designed to help ladies to hit straighter shots. These balls are brand-new to market in March 2021.
Wilson Tour Velocity
A competitively priced ball from a manufacturer with a long history in the game.
Mid and Low Handicap Options
As your game improves your options for female-specific balls reduce markedly. In general, as women’s swings tend to be slower you will be best opting for golf balls designed for slower swing speeds. You should also consider lower compression balls.
As with my suggestions for the men, first and foremost you need to feel comfortable with the ball around the green. If the ball doesn’t feel right for you when chipping and putting then any distance you might gain off the tee is probably not going to do you much good.
Srixon Q Star Tour
Offers similar features to the premium Z-Star ball but at a slightly lower price. A mid-compression ball but offers very high greenside spin.
Volvik Vivid Lite
Designed for players with swings between 55 and 85 mph. This means these balls are well suited to the majority of female players.
Once you get down to single figures then your swing speed is likely to be sufficient that you could play successfully with the premium balls.
- Titleist Pro V1/V1X
- Srixon Z-Star/Z-Star XV
- TaylorMade TP5/TP5x
- Bridgestone Tour B
Best Balls for Seniors
Since seniors also have slower swings in general they would probably be looking for similar balls to the ladies. If you are still managing to smoke your driver 220-250 yards then by all means grab yourself a dozen Pro V1’s or TP5’s.
If your drives are sub- 200 yards however you are probably going to have to look at one of the lower compression balls. These are designed for players with slower swing speeds.
Another issue for seniors can be a declining quality of sight. Fortunately, there are many manufacturers now that produce balls with a variety of vibrant colors. They should help you see your ball better both in flight and on the ground.
New Balls for Seniors
Volvik Vivid Lite
A good option as it is designed for players with swing speeds between 55 and 85 mph.
The Mizuno RB 566
Wilson Duo Soft
At launch, Wilson declared this the lowest compression ball on the market with a compression of only 29. No matter what your swing speed you should be able to compress this golf ball. It should feel really soft as well.
TaylorMade Soft Response
Ordinarily, a compression rating of 35 would be considered pretty low, it just doesn’t seem so good in comparison with the Wilson Duo Soft. In all seriousness, this should be a good fit for most seniors and has the added benefit of being relatively inexpensive.
Much as the manufacturers would all like us to go out and buy their premium ball, the reality is not everyone can afford or want to pay that much. Fortunately, you don’t have to necessarily shell out $50 to get a dozen balls to suit your game.
My advice would be to pick two or three of the models mentioned here that should suit you and then take them for a test drive to see which you prefer.
You should make that decision and then try to stick to it. You’ll find it easier to improve your game if you’re not constantly changing the make and model of ball you play.