Golf Ball Compression: Your Questions Answered
Golf ball compression is an often misunderstood topic even by experienced golfers. I’m going to try and clear up any confusion you might have about the compression of a golf ball and what it means for your game.
What Is Golf Ball Compression?
When you swing a golf club and it hits your ball, the club will cause the golf ball to change shape for a fraction of a second. The side of the ball struck with the club face flattens. This is compression. When you see terms like low compression or soft feel what they mean is that the ball is made of materials that are easier to compress. This means a lower-speed swing will cause the ball to deform more easily.
Higher compression golf balls require more clubhead speed in order to deform them to the same level as a lower compression ball.
When Does Golf Ball Compression Happen?
Compression occurs when you hit the ball with the clubface. You can see in the video below how the ball gets flattened as it is struck. It then stretches out into an elongated shape as it leaves the clubface.
Is There A Standard For Golf Ball Compression?
Unfortunately, there is no standard used throughout the golf industry for measuring the compression of balls. Some manufacturers are referring to the compression of the core while others might be referring to the ball as a whole.
In fact, there is no guarantee that they are even measuring the compression in the same manner. For this reason, it is difficult to directly compare the figures produced by manufacturers for compression ratings. In fact these days it is quite likely that the manufacturers won’t even specify a compression rating. They may just use more generic terms such as low, medium or high compression.
Partly this is because there is still some discrepancy from ball to ball when it leaves the factory and it’s also likely that they don’t want people to get too hung up on the specifics of a particular compression number.
Fortunately, mygolfspy.com have now performed many, many tests on golf balls and this is probably the best way to compare the compression ratings of different balls from different manufacturers.
How Does Weather Affect Golf Ball Compression?
At colder temperatures, it becomes more difficult to compress the ball so by switching to a lower compression model you might see a small improvement in distance compared with a high compression ball but then the low compression ball probably wouldn’t go as far in the first place.
In all probability, if you are playing in colder temperatures then keep a ball in your pocket and change it around every few holes that way you shouldn’t see too much drop-off in performance.
How Does Golf Ball Compression Impact Distance?
Testing by MyGolfSpy in particular has shown that low-compression balls are shorter than higher compression balls even for slower swingers although the differences become smaller as your clubhead speed decreases.
No matter your clubhead speed, firmer balls will get you more distance than softer ones.
What Compression Golf Ball Do The Pros Use?
Most professionals tend to use a ball at the higher end of the compression range. This is because high-performance balls that offer the best in terms of spin and distance tend to be firmer.
|Titleist Pro V1 (2021)||Soft||86|
|Titleist Pro V1x (2021)||Firm||96|
|Srixon Z-Star (2019)||Softer (90)||88|
|Srixon Z-Star XV (2021)||Soft (102)||95|
|Callaway Chrome Soft (2020)||Soft||76|
|Callaway Chrome Soft X (2020)||Medium||96|
|Bridgestone Tour B RX (2020)||73|
|Bridgestone Tour B X (2020)||96|
Just because tour pros use them doesn’t necessarily make them right for you but playing with the best ball you can is likely to improve your game. Find out whether a tour ball is the best option for you.
What Compression Golf Ball Should You Use?
First, you need to decide whether you care more about distance or feel. If “feel” is a lot more important to you then you will need to look at lower compression models. However, this is likely to cost you some distance. If you already struggle to hit the ball a long way then you might want to look at a higher compression ball that will tend to travel further even at a slower clubhead speed and sacrifice some “feel”.
One of the best ways to pick a golf ball is from the green backward.
Find ball(s) that work for you on and around the green. Then test those balls out with wedges and irons to see which works the best. Then see which of those work best for you with your driver. If you find one that you’re happy with in every category then that is the ball you should play whether or not think the ball you should play based on your handicap.
Low Compression Golf Balls Vs. High Compression What’s The Difference?
Traditionally low compression balls were targeted at players with slower swing speeds such as ladies or seniors. While higher swing speed players opted for firmer feeling high-compression golf balls.
In the current market, most manufacturers are still producing softer (low compression) golf balls but that is to meet the demand from amateurs that want a soft-feeling ball.
Generally speaking, low-compression golf balls will feel softer at any given swing speed. If you have an 80 mph clubhead speed then you might find balls like the Pro V1x, Srixon Z-Star XV and Chrome Soft X feel too hard to you.
Conversely, those with faster swings might not like the feel of soft and medium compression balls and they would gravitate to firmer balls like the Pro V1x.
You will also find that low-compression balls will tend to spin less than higher-compression models, they will also have a tendency to travel shorter distances.
If you currently generate too much spin then a low-compression ball might help in straighten out your ball flight somewhat.
Golf Ball Compression Chart
Currently, the best comparison of different golf balls you can do is using the MyGolfSpy data. This allows you to select a ball by different criteria including compression if you wish.
Here is a simplified chart using data gleaned from various sources. Note that as I mentioned earlier it is difficult to compare compression figures between manufacturers so it’s best to get your comparison from one source such as MyGolfSpy.
What Low-Compression Balls Are Popular?
Callaway makes the Supersoft ball which is one of the best-selling low-compression models. You could also test out the Srixon Soft Feel or the Titleist Velocity or TruFeel.
Golf Ball Compression: Conclusion
Hopefully, that’s given you a better idea of what golf ball compression means to your game. While feel is definitely an important part of the equation you shouldn’t sacrifice too many yards to play a softer ball.
Finding the best ball to suit your game should help you shoot lower scores and make the game much more enjoyable.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
What Is The Lowest Compression Golf Ball On The Market?
The Wilson Duo Soft has a compression rating of 35. This is the figure quoted by the manufacturer.
MyGolfSpy rates it as 42 although I have seen sources claim a compression rating of 29.
What Is The Highest Compression Golf Ball On The Market?
Using the figures obtained by MyGolfSpy the highest compression ball on the market is the Titleist ProV1x Left Dash with a rating of 102.
Do Low-Compression Golf Balls Go Further?
While some people like to claim that a low compression ball will go further for slower swingers based on testing it seems that firmer balls tend to go farther than softer balls even for slow swingers.
What Is The Compression Of The Titleist Pro V1 And Pro V1x
Titleist doesn’t usually publish a compression rating preferring to use terms like ‘firm’, ‘soft’ and ‘very soft’.
Based on the MyGolfSpy tests the 2021 models have ratings of 86 and 96 respectively. The 2019 versions were rated at 90 and 97.
What Does Golf Ball Compression Mean?
Golf ball compression is a measure of how much force you need to apply to deform the ball. The higher the compression the more force required.