Best golf balls: There’s an option out there that will fit you to a tee

Rounding out all you need to know when shopping for the best golf balls

Modern golf balls have come a long way since their hand-carved wooden predecessors of the 14th century. Today’s rubber and plastic models offer so many unique features that they might as well be customized to fit each individual player. So how do you know if you need TaylorMade balls or Titleist balls? Low-spin golf balls or tour-performance models? Practice golf balls or cheap balls? Finding the best golf balls for you can be nearly as challenging as the game itself. But like a good caddy, we’ve done the advance work on your behalf and present our suggestions so you can get right into the swing of things. 

Points to consider when shopping for the best golf balls

Just as a few simple pointers can straighten out a slice, a few simple considerations can help you find the best golf balls. For starters, they are made in three main types: distance golf balls, low-spin golf balls, and tour-performance golf balls. Distance options feature a large core and thin cover that allows the ball to jump off the clubface. Low-spin balls create more accuracy by reducing sidespin on shots not hit squarely, as well as more distance by lowering trajectories and increasing roll. And performance golf balls help lower-handicap players shave strokes with multiple-layered cores that can be manipulated to hit stinging line drives off the tee and high-arcing irons from the fairway. (Swing hard and you activate the inner core, maximizing distance; swing easier and you only compress the outer core, generating more spin.)

Covers are another consideration. Surlyn is the more common shell material: It’s durable and scratch-resistant, while efficiently transferring energy during impact to increase yardage. Urethane is softer and is used on high-performance golf balls because it provides a better feel, particularly around the greens. Pay attention to a cover’s dimple patterns, as well. Some designs reduce drag, some increased height, others affect spin.

Finally, feel should factor in, which is a bit of a touchy subject because feel can refer to different things. Often, when someone talks about soft golf balls, they are talking about a low-compression golf ball that effectively squishes at impact, limiting spin and increasing yardage. Comparatively, high-compression balls hold their form, requiring faster swing speeds for the ball to really bounce off the clubface, but rewarding players who know how to shape their shots. Still, because golf ball cores have evolved greatly beyond the days of wound-up string, it’s no longer easy to make a straightforward compression comparison between one ball and another. Confusing matters more, a soft cover on a golf ball can create a soft feel off the club, meaning some measurements of softness actually have nothing to do with compression and everything to do with “touch,” which refers to a golfer’s perceived control of the ball, especially in the short game.  

Don’t worry if your head is spinning with thoughts of ball rotations, or if you don’t feel like you’ve quite gotten to the heart of which core type is right. Compare the different types of golf balls as you Read on for more ideas on how to find the best balls for you. 

Do you want to hit it farther and straighter?

To sports fans or casual golfers, spin sounds like something everyone who tees it up should aspire to. The best shooters in basketball put beautiful rotation on the ball, baseball pitchers who are on their game are said to be spinning a gem, and pros on the PGA Tour can wow galleries with backspin on the green. But spin is not actually something every golfer should look for when shopping for balls. In fact, for many golfers, low-spin balls are the way to go because they add distance, increase accuracy, and are often more durable than high-performance balls. How is this possible? Low-spin options produce the right amount of backspin to sail above the fairway without climbing so high in the sky that they lose forward momentum. What’s more, limited spin prevents a poorly struck shot from traveling too far off line—so if you hit a slice, it won’t be nearly as wicked as it would be with a high-spin golf ball. When you do hit it into the rough and brush, and maybe onto a cart path or two, low-spin balls are less likely to be damaged, since they typically have tough, hard shells. If you’re a golfer who knows how to bend a drive around a dog leg or fold a fairway metal into a stiff wind, you should opt for a higher-performing ball, but if you’re a golfer looking to add length and keep it in play, shop low-spin balls.

Best low-spin golf balls: Titleist Velocity Golf Balls

Flying High

These Titleist golf balls are designed for towering shots that travel farther. Titleist

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If you’re looking for low-spin Titleist golf balls that’ll have you out-driving the rest of your foursome, the Velocity measures well ahead of the competition. Built to get every yard, this Titleist pick features a high-speed LSX core that jumps off the clubface and a cover with a tiled 350 octahedral dimple pattern that enhances flight and reduces slicing. As with most low-spin balls, the Velocity trades touch around the greens for added distance, but it’s still plenty soft enough for average golfers. Plus, matte green, orange, and pink color options add extra style with those extra yards.  

Is your game Tour ready?

For players who consistently score in the 70s, the right golf ball can be the difference between a number in the red and the black. Tour-performance balls feature multilayered cores that skilled players can use to their advantage. Off the tee, fast swing speeds will compress the ball to its inner core, designed to spin less than the outer core. That outer layer is activated on softer swings, when players have a short iron or wedge in hand and want a higher shot with more backspin to help the ball land softly on the green. 

The covers of tour-performance balls are typically made with urethane, designed to create a soft feel off the clubface that enables more touch. That’s a huge benefit for low-handicap players, but those who shoot in the 90s are probably better off with cheap balls that won’t damage as easily.

The Titleist Pro V1, with its patented Drop-and-Stop greenside control, is perennially revered as a standout on Tour. But other options, including Callaway golf balls, are making a serious run at the title of best balls used by the pros.  

Best tour-performance golf balls: Callaway Chrome Soft

Touchy Feely

These Callaway balls are great around the greens. Callaway

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There are few things more satisfying in golf than watching your wedge shot spin back toward the cup, and the Chrome can beeline for the pin with the best of them. A Dual SoftFast Core gives these Callaway golf balls an ultra-soft feel, and a stiff casing and thin, firm outer core, reinforced with graphene, provide premium touch. Still, these soft Callaway balls also offer plenty of distance thanks to a large inner core and urethane cover that are designed to reduce spin on full swings. 

Mid-handicappers benefit from balls that offer distance and control

The best balls for average golfers are plenty long off the tee and soft around the greens. They are also inexpensive enough that you won’t feel obligated to send out a search party every time you knock an errant drive into the trees. An average golfer should look for ones with medium compression, limiting spin on drives but not limiting it so much that the ball won’t spin backward off irons or wedges.  

Best golf balls for average golfers: Srixon Soft Feel

Tough Exterior, Soft Interior

Combining durability and playability, these Srixon golf balls are ideal for any weekend golfer. Srixon

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The best golf balls for average golfers balance distance and feel, control and cost, and that’s exactly what you get with these Srixon balls. The two-piece ball generates medium spin, and the resilient core gets progressively softer as it moves inward, which allows for more yardage off the tee without giving up touch around the greens. The Soft Feel’s low-compression design also minimizes mistakes, meaning you don’t have to wander as far into the trees if you don’t catch it squarely. These balls also give your game a lift with a durable shell that features a 338 Speed Dimple Pattern, reducing drag and keeping your shot in the air longer.

Does your game need some yard work?

In an ideal world, you’d probably hit a large bucket of balls every day. But in our busy lives, getting to the range isn’t always possible. Plastic or foam training balls bring the range to your backyard, letting you work on your swing while the charcoal is lighting. The best practice balls mimic the flight of real ones reasonably well, without all of the carry. After all, there are only so many times your neighbor will tolerate you sending a shot over the fence. Training balls should also be durable, or at least as durable as you can expect from an imitation of the real thing. On average, plastic practice balls with holes are more durable than solid plastic balls or practice balls made of foam.

Best practice golf balls: SKLZ Limited-Flight Practice Golf Balls

Short Gamers

These sturdy training golf balls fly true. SKLZ

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Sure, no practice golf balls perfectly replicate the real thing. But these limited-flight plastic trainers can definitely give you some solid reps if you can’t make it to the range. They are regulation size and fly about as well as you could expect from a plastic option, without making you walk too far to chase them—they max out at about 45 yards. The material is said to be dent-proof, but they are plastic balls that you strike with metal clubs, after all, so don’t be too surprised if they don’t last forever, or if you happen to lose them—the half-black color design has a way of disappearing in tall grass. 

Looking for cheap golf balls? There’s plenty to like under $15

Even if you aren’t the kind of golfer who measures a round by how many balls you lost (rather than how many strokes you took), cheap golf balls could still be for you. You can easily get plenty of performance for half the cost of a mid-range ball. Less expensive balls won’t provide the touch and versatility of more expensive balls, but they should provide plenty of distance. Budget balls are typically two-piece balls with a low-spin core and hard shell—just what you need to help keep it in play and keep it in better condition, even when you do, inevitably, find the rough. 

Best cheap golf balls: TaylorMade Distance Plus Golf Balls

Added Yardage

Discover extra distance without extra cost. TaylorMade

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For less than a buck a ball, these TaylorMades provide plenty of performance. The reactive core generates low spin, and the aerodynamic dimple pattern reduces resistance, maximizing yardage down the fairway. Like most cheap golf balls, this two-piece ball doesn’t have that Tour-quality touch, but if all you need is something to knock out there for your next game of skins, these TaylorMade ones are the perfect match. 

Best golf balls FAQ: people also ask

What is the best golf ball in 2021?

The best option in 2021 is the golf ball that seems to top the list every year: the Titleist Pro V1. Favored by many professionals, these Titleist ones improve your distance and increase your control, which is exactly why they cost about $5 per ball. 

Which golf balls are best for high handicappers?

The best balls for high handicappers are two-piece, low-spin balls. Limited spin means the ball won’t travel as severely off-course on mishits. Plus, less spin means less height, which translates to more distance. 

Do softer golf balls go further?

In general, softer balls go further because low-compression cores create less spin. However, at high swing speeds, soft golf balls deform at impact, costing energy and reducing ball speed—and, therefore, yardage. 

Related: Looking for more beginner-friendly options? Have a ball looking through these

The final word on shopping for the best golf balls

The best golf balls will help maximize your game. If you’re a higher handicap player, you’ll benefit from low-spin golf balls that increase distance. If you’re a lower handicap player, you’ll depend on performance balls that provide more touch. And no matter how good you are, consider tossing a set of practice balls into your cart, because even if you play your rounds with the perfect ball, you can always find a way to get better.