Low Compression Golf Ball Guide (Best Options For 2022)
Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
These days manufacturers don’t tend to explicitly state the compression rating of their golf balls.
In this low compression golf ball guide, I’ll explain what low compression means and how it might help your game.
The general rule of thumb is that higher compression golf balls will suit players with faster swing speeds while lower compression golf will suit players with slower swing speeds.
Golf Ball Compression
When the clubface strikes the ball the part of the ball in contact with the face will tend to flatten out or deform.
How easy or hard it is to cause the ball to deform is what determines its compression rating. The higher the rating the more difficult it is to compress the ball. This is why higher compression golf balls are usually better suited to faster swinging players.
What Happened To Compression Ratings?
Twenty years or so ago many manufacturers printed the compression rating on the ball. Those rated at 100 compression were designed for fast swingers and 90 compression balls were for those with a more typical swing speed.
These days compression ratings tend not to be mentioned by the manufacturers. They prefer to refer to balls in terms of how soft or firm they are.
The reasons why manufacturers remain coy about the compression ratings probably include the different testing methods. Each manufacturer measures the compression of their products slightly differently. Some measure the compression of the whole ball and others just the core. There isn’t a standard device used for measuring either, making comparisons between manufacturers essentially meaningless.
Another reason may be that there isn’t that much consistency in the production process. Some industry insiders have claimed there can be as much as 30 points difference between batches of golf balls in the same model line.
Dean Snell who was instrumental in the development of the Pro V1 at Titleist is on record as saying the compression ratings of golf balls in the past often varied wildly from what was printed on the cover.
What Is Low Compression?
Using the manufacturer’s own quoted figures gives compression ratings as low as 29 and as high as 110.
Broadly speaking a low compression golf ball would have a rating below 90. Those between 90 and a hundred would be considered standard and anything over 100 would be considered high compression.
Pros Of Low Compression Golf Balls
The biggest benefit of using a low compression golf ball is the softer feel at impact. This is all relative of course. If you have a fast swing then you may find that a lower compression golf ball doesn’t feel right to you. It may in fact feel too soft.
If you have a slower swing in the region of 90 mph or less then a softer, lower compression golf ball might give you the feel that you are looking for.
It’s also possible that it may give you a better ball flight and distance than a harder ball designed for faster golf swings.
Certainly, that’s the case if you believe the marketing spin from the manufacturers. Looking at some of the data from various robot ball tests, however, would suggest that the compression of the ball doesn’t make that much difference to the performance even at slower swing speeds.
In tests conducted by Today’s Golfer, there was only a 4-yard difference between the longest and shortest ball in the test when the robot was swinging at 85 mph. Admittedly many of the balls in this particular test would be targetted at low handicappers and professionals but there were some lower compression balls including the Callaway ERC Soft (76.1 compression), Wilson Duo Professional (84), Callaway Chrome Soft (88.3) and the Srixon AD333 (88.4).
Interestingly the ERC soft which was the lowest compression ball in those tests fared pretty well at the three driver speeds used (85, 100, 115 mph). It finished second, third and ninth respectively in terms of carry distance.
In the mygolfspy 2021 ball tests, they also found that the softest compression golf balls tended to spin less than their higher compression counterparts. So you will be sacrificing a little bit of greenside control for the softer feel. You will also, based on their findings, be giving up some yardage to get the feel you desire. Given there was only an 8-yards difference between the shortest and longest ball it’s unlikely that you would see tremendous distance gains by changing to a softer or harder ball.
The compression question really comes down to feel.
Their findings would suggest that if you are a player with a high swing speed and you generate high spin (> 2800 rpm) you may possibly benefit from a softer lower compression ball because the reduced spin may lead to a slightly longer carry.
Cons Of Low Compression Balls
As stated above the issue with low compression golf balls is that they tend to be shorter than the higher compression models of golf balls for any given swing speed.
As the robot tests tend to show the differences may not be huge but if you are a slow swinger then you are likely to be struggling for distance so an extra 10 yards may sound more appealing to you than someone who can carry their driver 270 yards.
While a softer compression ball might be great for a slow swinger in terms of feel the same is unlikely for a faster swinger.
It’s likely that a low compression ball will feel squidgy if you have a reasonably fast swing. Most people are unable to transition to a ball that feels too soft.
Lower compression golf balls will tend to spin less than their higher compression cousins. This will make it more difficult around the green and on your approach shots especially if you spend a lot of time playing on firm greens where the ability to generate backspin will be a major benefit.
Who Should Use Low Compression Balls?
There are three types of golfers who might consider using a low compression ball.
- Anyone who is looking for a softer feel off the clubface
- People with slower swings (seniors, ladies and juniors)
- People that generate excess spin
Having looked more closely at the evidence while researching this article I’m not sure that just having a slow swing speed is sufficient justification for playing a low compression ball anymore.
The downsides probably outweigh the upsides so you may be better off just playing a premium model ball even if you go for one of the lower compression models such as the Callaway Chrome Soft.
The only reason to avoid using premium balls would be the cost. If you are still relatively new to golf or are struggling to keep the ball in play then the thought of spending $50 or $60 for a dozen balls probably doesn’t fill you with joy. In this case, I can see an argument for playing with a cheaper, lower compression ball at least until your game improves to the point where you’re more confident about your ability to keep your golf ball in play.
How Does the Weather Affect A Low Compression Ball?
Anyone who spends time playing golf in colder weather realizes that the golf ball just doesn’t respond the same way that it does in summer.
The core of the golf ball is sensitive to temperature so you will see a drop-off in distance.
You could try using a low compression ball in this scenario since it will react slightly more at a lower temperature but at the end of the day it’s winter golf, is it really that important? You could just as easily keep one ball in your pocket and swap them around every few holes and you may see just as much benefit.
Does Compression Affect Size Or Weight?
No, the compression rating of a golf ball usually has no bearing on the size or weight of the ball. Both of which are governed by the Rules of Golf laid down by the R&A and USGA.
While there may be some benefits in terms of feel, particularly for slower swingers I’m certainly not as convinced as I used to be about the usefulness of lower compression balls.
Ultimately it will come down to your own performance and priorities. You may find a particular model of ball where you like the feel and don’t have to give up too much yardage or spin. You need to check out whether the ball suits your golf swing.
Best Low Compression Balls?
Although you won’t see the compression ratings on the ball most manufacturers will make it obvious which balls are meant to have a soft feel by including the word soft in the product name.
Remember even if the manufacturers did print their compression rating on the ball it would still be pretty meaningless because each manufacturer uses a different method to come up with their particular rating.
If you’re looking to find low compression balls then the best way to find them is to look for independent testers such as mygolfspy or one of the major golf magazines like Golf Digest.
That way you will know that a consistent methodology was used to test the compression of the ball.
If you are still considering a low compression ball then here are some of the best on the market at the moment.
The UltiSoft is the lowest compression ball produced by Srixon. It is a two-piece ionomer-covered ball with a rating of 38.
If you’re a fan of Srixon golf balls and you’re looking for a softer feeling ball then you should give this one a try.
Srixon Soft Feel
Despite its name, this has a significantly higher compression rating than the UltiSoft being measured by Srixon at 60.
Srixon Q-Star Tour
This is a three-piece urethane-covered ball that offers a cheaper alternative to the Z-Star range. With a compression figure of 72 compared to the Z-Stars rating of 90, this should offer a great feel and decent performance without breaking the bank.
You can also get Q-Star Tours in yellow if your eyes aren’t as good as they used to be like mine!
According to the Titleist website, the TruFeel is the softest ball in their range. If you have a tendency to lose multiple balls every round then the good news is this is also the cheapest ball in their lineup so shouldn’t end up costing you the earth.
It’s one of the lower spinning balls that tightly produce so will help straighten up your hooks and slices but won’t spin as much approaching the green.
Titleist Tour Soft
A slightly more expensive ball that features the largest core of any Titleist product in an effort to generate distance. Has a thin cover to promote more spin than you would expect with the TruFeel.
Features a urethane cover to help generate plenty of spin on approach shots and render green. It’s designed to help players who don’t have a high swing speed.
Callaway ERC Soft
A relatively inexpensive ball that offers great performance and is recommended by mygolfspy in their 2021 ball test for the “average” golfer.
The ERC from Callaway can also be purchased with their triple track markings to help you line up on the green.
What Is The Lowest Compression Golf Ball
The Wilson Staff Duo is currently the lowest compression ball in production with a rating of 29.
TaylorMade produces the Soft Response which is the next “softest” with a rating of 35.