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Survey Results: What You Look For In A Golf Ball

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The Ball.

It's the one piece of equipment you use on absolutely every shot, and its direct contribution to your final score is perhaps most difficult to quantify.

Picking a driver is easy. I've yet to find the golfer who can't work with long and straight. But finding exactly what you want in a golf ball...that's a bit more nuanced. As with nearly every other piece of equipment in the back, the ball offers plenty (or at least plenty of words) to consider. 2-piece, 3-piece (lots of pieces), cores and compression, dimples, mantles, rubber and RZN.

Even when you sort through all of that, what I think is important in a golf ball may not matter to you in the least. Some demand more distance, while others demand total control.

We all want different things, which is why we weren't exactly sure what we'd get when we asked you to tell us about the balls you play and why you play them.

Here's What You Told Us:

Golf Ball Construction

How Many Pieces

Not surprisingly given that the majority of mid-level+ to tour level balls feature 3-piece construction, the majority of you (52.98%) told us that you play a 3-piece ball.

4-piece or more (balls like the Pro V1x, Bridgestone B330/B330oS, and TaylorMade Tour Preferred X accounted for another 25.14%). Just under 12% of you report using two-piece balls, while nearly 10% either don't know, or don't care how many layers your golf ball has.

Where They Come From

How You Buy

Admittedly, I found these results a little surprising. Given how many of our forum members discuss buying from LostGolfBalls.com and other reputable used providers, it's eye-opening to find that 82.10% of you buy your balls new (compared to only 11.79% who buy used).

While I can't prove it, I suspect that if we surveyed the truly recreational golfer (not those of you who read MyGolfSpy regularly), we'd probably find that play what I find, accounts for a substantial percentage of what golfers are actually using.

How Much You Spend

Ball Price

Let's take what we know and juxtapose it with our survey results.

We know that the Titleist Pro V1 is the best selling ball in golf. We also know that the suggested retail price (and the actual retail price) is above 45$. Nevertheless, the greatest majority of you report paying between $30 and $40 for a dozen balls.

So here's my follow-up question for those of you who answered $30-$40: What balls are you buying and where are you getting them?

Are you buying lower cost tour balls?
Are you buying Pro V1s for below retail?

I'm intrigued...

How Many Balls You Buy

how many dozen

This is another interesting question when you dig a bit below the surface.

Perhaps we should have asked how many balls you go through in a round (feel free to answer in the comments). Some of the more erratic players I know (sometimes myself included), can easily go through 3 or more balls during a single round of golf. On a bad day, 3 or more on a single hole.

The better players I know will often replace a ball after one round regardless of the condition. It almost makes you wonder how important durability actually is.

My guess is your purchases are well-correlated to your ability. The more balls you lose, the more you buy, but the less you're likely to spend on a per dozen basis. Better players likely spend more less often.

What Matters in a Golf Ball

Characteristcs by Importance

As you may recall, this question asked you to rank each of the 7 characteristics of golf balls listed above by importance. To better understand the results, you can think of a higher ranking as being worth more points. The feature listed as most important by a given respondent received 7 points, while the feature listed as least important received 1 point. The scores shown represent an average point total.

So with that out of the way...

35.80% of you listed Feel as the biggest determining factor in your ball purchase. Telling perhaps is that feel was selected almost twice as often as Greenside Spin (19.03%), which was the 2nd most popular choice.

This helps to explain why Callaway has been so successful with the Chrome Soft, and why the industry as a whole appears to be moving towards lower compression balls. The challenge for manufacturers is to create a soft-enough ball that doesn't feel mushy. Based on the feedback I've heard, Callaway may have done that.

The results also reveal that, based on conversations we've had with ball manufacturers, distance (16.19% 1st preference, and ranked 3rd overall), is perhaps overvalued by the consumer. By most accounts, differences in driver distances between balls of similar quality is minimal, if even measurable.

Spin (2nd choice overall) is where we'd expect it to be, while my personal opinion is that Approach Trajectory and Control isn't as highly regarded as it should be.

Finally, Wind Performance finished last by a healthy margin, Whether we want to or not, we all play in wind, and it's where we tend to see some of the more pronounced differences. To me this suggests that many golfers may be too focused on areas where performance differences between balls is negligible.

Color Choices

Golf Ball Color

An overwhelming majority of you (86.33%) told us that you still play a white ball. This is hardly eye-opening news considering that only Srixon (ZStar) and Nike (Vapor Black) have offered their premium balls in something other than white.

Most of you play tour quality balls, and most tour quality balls are white. It doesn't take a statistics wizard to find the correlation.

Would you be more likely to try a different color ball if Titleist made the Pro V1 in yellow? Personally, I'd love to see TaylorMade (Tour Preferred), Bridgestone (B330/B330-S), and Titleist bring their premium balls to market in yellow.

When we looked beyond yellow, while 58.82% of you said you'd consider playing something other than a white or yellow golf ball, nearly 30% (29.55%) said absolutely not. White or yellow, that's it.

Design Considerations

design characteristics

Again we asked you to rate based on importance, but this time we asked you to tell us whether you found each design consideration to be the most important, somewhat important, slightly important, or not important. The higher the weighted average, the more important golfers consider a given characteristic.

As you can see, Cover Material was listed as the Most Important consideration. In fact, 42.20% of you said it was the most important design characteristic, while only 8.87% of you said it was not important.

Urethane good, Surlyn bad. Most of us are on-board with that.

Once again we see Feel near the top. Compression Rating and to an extent Cover Material account for how a ball feels at impact, and it would seem that golfers are giving more consideration to Feel than more quantifiable performance indicators.

Perhaps the biggest curiosity for me is that Core Material falls in the middle of our result chart, with over 60% listing it as slightly or somewhat important.

What are our choices really? Currently there's rubber (most everyone in the industry), there's RZN (Nike), and there's metal (OnCore). Given that only a single respondent has played an OnCore ball, it seems unlikely anyone is really concerned one way or another about hollow metal.

Is this just a case of RZN vs. Rubber, or are some of us overthinking it?

Reading the chart from the bottom up we find that a large percentage of you don't find country of manufacture, brand name, or dimple patterns to be of any particular importance.

Tell that to the guys who only play Titleist, or the other guys who insist on Callaway's HEX aerodynamics.

The Brands You Play

which-brands-played-CROPPED
*Click image to see full chart

While the results themselves aren't surprising, the numbers themselves are a bit unnerving for any company trying to make a run at Titleist's domination of the ball market.

93.04% of you have played a Titleist ball at one time or another. Bridgestone is next at just over 80%, followed by Callaway at just under 80%.

Of the Top 6 ball manufacturers, Nike trails the leaders with only 61.08% of you reporting having played a Nike Ball. That outpaces once well-known brands like Maxfli, Top Flite, Pinnacle, and Precept.

Among smaller and direct-to-consumer balls, Snell ranks the highest (14.91%), While the brands listed in the recent Titleist lawsuit, weren't listed in any significant numbers.

Brand Loyalty

which-brand-CROPPED
*Click image to see full chart

We asked the 62.22% of you who reported being loyal to a particular ball manufacturer to tell us to which brand you're loyal.

Once again, the results how a steep uphill climb for anyone trying to cut into Titleist's market share.

Among those of you who are brand loyal, 37.12% of you are loyal to Titleist. If that doesn't sound like a tremendous number, consider that it's roughly equivalent to the number of you who are loyal to Bridgestone (14.39%), Callaway (12.88%), and Srixon (9.47%) COMBINED.

Titleist owns the ball market, and there's probably no one within a decade of being competitive.

Of interest to some, perhaps, both Wilson (5.30%) and Snell (4.55%) rated higher for loyalty than Nike (4.17%).

About Tony Covey

Tony is the editor of mygolfspy. His coverage of golf equipment extends far beyond the facts as dictated by the companies that created them.

He believes in performance over hype. #PowerToThePlayer

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Comments

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael September 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I am interested in trying the Snell My Tour Ball myself. I have told friends to give them a shot based on MGS reviews/recommendations. I have used the Top Flite Gamer as well and it has always performed wonderfully for me. The current ball I’ve been using and absolutely love is the MG Tour C4 ball that I learned about through MGS from a member. They have performed awesome and consistently for me. I am curious why MGS no longer mentions them or why they’re not tested in the ball comparisons. The ball cost $20 bucks and is as good FOR me as any I have used. I used to play the b330s but I can buy 2 dozen vs 1 and don’t lose any performance. They feel great to me also. I personally think that they are worth a try to those who haven’t had the chance. I would also like to see MGS review these. I would be willing to donate a dozen of my personal stash if you guys are interested..

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vince August 25, 2015 at 4:16 pm

I tried Prov1, on a several rounds & averaged 78 strokes. Tried Crome averaged 78 strokes, Tried bridge stone E6 averaged 78 strokes per round. Nike ntz averaged 78 strokes per round. Wilson staff averaged 78 strokes per round. Now tell me what ball is the best. The person hitting the ball correctly makes the ball the best.

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Johhny Thunders August 24, 2015 at 9:07 am

As a senior with a swing spend around 90 I found the Callaway Supersoft works the best. Also the Superhot goes farther but feels a little firm and hard. And the price is great on either.

I find the prov and prov1 to be overrated and way over priced. I watch some of the higher-handicaps in the league lose 3-5 per round. Ouch.

I rarely loss a ball and I can play the Callaway Supersoft forever if I don’t hit a card path or tree.
Before them I played the Wilson Duo but the Callaway is better. Before that the Bridestone e6, but the Callaway is better.

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Fred August 23, 2015 at 12:17 am

After reading mygolfspy’s review of the SNELL balls, I tried them, and haven’t looked back. Dean Snell, the man behind the ball, took the ProV1 (which he helped design), and made it better. For the first time, I now get my balls through the mail. At $31 for a dozen balls that are as good, if not better, than my previous ball (ProV1), it’s worth it. I think in time, as more people try the balls, the brand will move up in the rankings of preference.

As for color of balls, oftentimes, in the early morning, I use a yellow ball (Srixon Z-Star Tour Yellow) because it’s so much easier to see – for me, anyway, and has good distance. After 4-5 holes, I usually switch to a white ball. I asked Titlesist about offering yellow ProVs, and they said it wasn’t going to happen. When you think about it, very few ball manufacturers offer their top-of-the-line balls in yellow. Luckily, Srixon and Bridgestone do. Apparently, it is difficult to make a yellow cast urethane cover for some balls.

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frank perry August 22, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Prov1x fan for a many years ..Just played with Snell ball and performance was very good ..Ball does release more than a Prov1x but not much considering most rounds are played early morning .Around the greens is where I see a little difference. Chunk and run , pick and flop shots re-act a little different.. Still a big fan of the Snell ball .Played 5 rounds with 2 balls and it is very durable and feels very good off of the putter, driver and Irons .Taylor made preferred tour ball is a good ball to .For the price Snell is the answer if you are looking at cost .I rate it high but just a little below Prov1x.

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Drew August 22, 2015 at 12:30 am

I play the Vice Pro Shooter. 25 a box and they occasionally have free shipping. No difference between the ProV, Lethal, B330, Zstar or Snell and the Vice Pro. Never been a titleist fan. The ProV shouldn’t cost more than 40 ever and the NXT Tour is just a mediocre ball at 33 bucks a box. Had much more success with the Q Star for way less. I also really liked the Chrome+ this year.
I’m gonna stock up on the Vice Pro to make sure Titleist doesn’t sue them up of business.

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redneckrooster August 21, 2015 at 11:38 pm

I think that Wilson FG Tour balls starting 3-4 years ago started this trend with the 70 compression and a sticky coating even though many have not tried them . Then the Duo ball with 29 compression. Give them some credit.. This is a very good ball that is as good as any Cally ball.

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Tom54 August 20, 2015 at 5:02 pm

The B330-RX comes in yellow. Curious why you don’t consider it a premium ball considering it costs the same as the B330 and B330S

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Fred August 23, 2015 at 12:21 am

Tom – I’ve spoken with the guys at Bridgestone, and they consider their 330 series to be a premium ball.

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Bill August 19, 2015 at 11:10 pm

Tried the Snell My Tour Ball this past week based on MyGolfSpy’s recommendation.
Putted with them and hit some chips and felt good enough about them that I tried a round with them. First round ended up being my first sub 80 round of the year. Been dancing around 80 the last month so it’s not a night and day difference but usually play Pro V’s and after seeing the similar performance numbers I wanted give the Snell a try out.
For $31.99, the Pro V has some serious competition.
Similar distance- was a warm day, not particularly humid. Best example- par 5 530 yards. Hit my drive to the 200 yard marker (it’s Colorado at 6500 ft so chalk up 25 yards to thin air. Pin at the back (about 210) so hit a 4 iron..ended up landing on the back of the green and rolled off. Plenty long. Not giving anything away there.
Holds it’s line in the wind as well as anything I’ve played.
Putts beautifully, reminds me of the Wilson FG Tour ball on and around the green. Not clicky, good sound and soft, predictable feel.
Really liked the way it comes off wedges and my 8 iron around the green.
Wedges from 125 in weren’t hop and stop (not really my shot anyway, to be honest). But landed with no excessive roll.
By the end of the day I had a new ball. My swing speed is 105-106 with the driver if that’s any help as to distance possibilities. After the Pro V, my other preference was the Callaway Speed Regime 3. This ball does everything those balls do for $17 less a dozen.

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Steven August 19, 2015 at 3:03 pm

It may not be sexy to say this among serious golfers, but I play the Top Flite Gamer (yellow). It is a good 3-piece ball that occasionally goes on sale for as low as $10/dozen. I can’t find a better ball at that price point.

When I play with friends I might lose 0-3 balls during a typical round. When I play on my own I am in practice mode and use “I play what I find balls” to try different shot shapes or to see if I can carry hazards that I wouldn’t normally try to carry. I lose a lot more balls on those days. Playing a variety of balls on these days I can tell some differences between them, but not enough to justify paying for a premium ball, at least for my skill level.

Thanks for another great article.

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Sharkhark August 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm

I agree with poster that said practice balls are great. No noticeable difference except price.
I buy practice prov1 I also buy used mint or look for unusual clear outs like some rbz urethane I grabbed for $16 a box. Full retail? No way.

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Darren Tan August 17, 2015 at 9:00 pm

I bought too many Noodles 2 pc balls during a sale last year and when my game was in pieces. Now that my game is back, I’m struggling to finish them.
As it stands, I also have boxes of Wilson Duos and Bridgestone BB330 RX/RXS lying in my store room.

In terms of feel, the Duos are really soft but sometimes I struggle with them on putting. The BB330 RX are performers all round and are value for money. Hardly lose them unless to water and their durability is good.

I’m not exactly a Titleist fan and my son who is a 7 hcp can’t really tell the difference between the Pro Vs and the BB330 I got for him. So are many people drinking the Pro V Kool Aid? I’m not sure.

A friend of mine has recommended Tour Preferred and my coach says Chrome soft is good so perhaps I’ll try them then my supply is dwindling.

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Cyd August 17, 2015 at 8:57 pm

I play the best ball on the market -3 piece, Urethane cover. $31.99 + free shipping.

Snell golf.

Look it up.

Buy a dozen.

You will not be disappointed!

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revkev August 18, 2015 at 4:09 pm

I second this comment, when I filled out the survey I was playing Bridgestone but I’m a Snell My Tour ball player all the way. I appreciate the comments on how to save on top line balls but there is a reason why those balls are marked as practice or x out – it does make a difference if only in consistency.

Try these balls, you won’t be disappointed.

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Fred August 23, 2015 at 12:23 am

Most of the reviews on the Snell balls have been excellent, including mygolfspy’s own review.

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Gary Gutful August 17, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Difficult to make sense of the data when so many people are telling porkies.

By the way, I use a five piece Titleist tour only ball with 150 compression that I am able to purchase for $29 per dozen.

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NevinW August 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Among the friends that I play golf with, I notice that there is a lot more willingness to experiment with different golf balls and to switch brands. This weekend, among 8 of us, I was the only one playing a ProV1. The Bridgestone ball has really made inroads where I play and I think their advertising of the RX and RXS versions has clearly made people try them out and switch. Titleist may own the ball market right now but whether that is true in 5 years, I’m not so sure about.

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Dave S August 17, 2015 at 11:04 am

I buy Taylormade Lethal “practice” balls off Amazon for about $20 a dozen. I could get the Tour Preferred “practice” ball for about $10 more (still about $10-$15 below new at retail), but I see no point. I have played with every type of ball and have even compared new Lethal balls vs the “practice” version and haven’t found any noticeable difference. I haven’t used a launch monitor or anything, so I can’t say for certain that there aren’t any minor differences that my naked eye can’t pick up, but distance control, trajectory, and feel around the greens seems to be nearly identical (and certainly good enough for someone of my skill level – a mid-hcp). Buying “practice” versions allows me to play a top level tour ball w/out the $5-6 per ball price tag at retail. As someone who can play a round and not lose one ball, but then go out the next day and lose 5, the reduced price takes some of the sting off of a wayward drive.

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