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A question for all the golfers out there about balls ...

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10 replies to this topic

#1 of 11 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 21 2007 - 06:40 AM

Golfers all know that every year manufacturers bring out new golf balls that are, if we believe the advertising copy, better than anything that's been made before in the history of the universe. Now I'm quite prepared to believe that on properly calibrated test equipment using robots (or modern professional golfers, who often amount to the same thing) there is a statistically significant improvement year on year even if the size of the difference in objective terms is miniscule. But can an average player really notice the difference?

Common sense says no. But if you read (which for my sins I occasionally do) the appropriate threads on various golfing equivalents of the HTF, you'd think that the arrival of a new brand of golf balls is on a par with a religious revelation. 'I now drive 30 yards longer' is a typical comment (so far I've resisted the temptation to reply with 'well your drive must have been crap before'). Sorry, but having seen the shots of a typical golfer, most of them wouldn't notice the difference between hitting a golf ball and a round lump of concrete painted white.

Maybe that's being a bit harsh, but what I'm wondering is - has anyone ever done a properly conducted blind test in which all identifying marks have been removed from golf balls and players are asked to grade the quality of the balls by their feel alone? My shrewd bet is that all but the very best golfers wouldn't have a blind clue what they were hitting and would be incapable of telling the difference between a premium and a budget brand ball [I don't know the prices in the USA, but in the UK that's a difference between about $6 and 60 cents].

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Dave_Brown


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Posted September 21 2007 - 07:37 AM

While no golfing expert, there are a few balls out there that I have hit that I would never use again based on "feel." Most of the time I can't tell a top flite from a titleist so it doesn't matter that much. But I have hit a couple of nike balls that felt like I was hitting a round, white rock.

#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted September 21 2007 - 10:37 AM

I play golf quite a bit, and while I can notice a slight difference between a top of the line ball like a Titliest Pro V and a bargain ball, it's not enough to justify the huge cost difference. However, there are a few balls that I just flat out do not like at all, and will not use. Pinnacle is the first that comes to mind. I call them "PinnaRocks", because they feel like I'm hitting a rock. Now, even with a Pro V, I will not get much (if any) additional yardage over the balls I buy -- usually bargain Nike, Top Flite Strata, or Slazenger (whichever is on sale). They do feel nice on a solid hit, though. I just cannot justify spending $4 per ball for them. My spending limit is around $1 per ball. Even these less expensive balls have improved over the past decade and yield performance improvements almost identical to the premium balls for us weekend golfers. For a pro golfer looking for every edge, every minor improvement helps. But, for the average golfer, I think it's more psychological. FWIW, I'm a 9 handicapper who plays a couple of times per week.

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   alan halvorson

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Posted September 21 2007 - 01:37 PM

The trick is to match the ball with the club and your swing. Certain combinations can result in increased distance. You could do this by trail and error but it's better to go somewhere where those factors can be analyzed.
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#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Brandon_T



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Posted September 22 2007 - 01:40 AM

Scott, have you played Black Forest up in Gaylord before? I am heading there in a couple of weeks and the course looks pretty nice, just curious what your opinion on it was if you have played it. http://www.blackforestgolf.com/

Also, I have found the first ball that I really like to hit and have noticed a difference for my swing. The newer Top Flite Quartz balls are some of my new favorites, although I have always hit the Strata balls well.

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Bruce Hedtke

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Posted September 22 2007 - 02:14 AM

No. However, different brands of golf balls certainly feel different for every player. I remember when I first started out playing, I bought whatever was cheap and available, which happened to be Ultra's. Since I had no experience, I thought these were fine and continued to use them until the one time I bought a package of Greg Norman's Great White balls. The difference in feel was huge. They just matched my swing and if they were still being produced today, I'd still be playing them. Bruce
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#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted September 23 2007 - 12:05 AM

Brandon, I have not played Black Forest, but I've heard it's a nice course. Gaylord has lots of great golfing options. If you are looking for someplace to play on the drive up, I can recommend The Dream and The Nightmare in West Branch (you can see the former on the west side of I-75, just north of Exit 215). My parents live in Roscommon, so I play these two courses quite often when visiting.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Chris Gerhard

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Posted September 23 2007 - 12:13 AM

I am convinced the Titleist Pro V1x is best and I play that ball when I find one. For balls I can afford, any of the recognizable brand names are good enough for me. Various Nike, Maxfli, Callaway, and Pinnacle balls are usually in my bag. I am 55 and I still try to hit 300 yard drives so I lose a lot of balls. Chris

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Julian Reville

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Posted September 24 2007 - 07:54 AM

Once again, Andrew shows his preoccupation with golfer's balls.

Posted Image

Andrew, did you hear about the Scotsman who was walking through a field when he saw a man drinking water from a pool with his hand?

The Scotsman shouts "Awa ye eijit, can yeh no tell that's foo o coos keich!!?"
(Translation: You fool! Stop at once! Don't drink the water, it's full of cow shit!!)

The man shouts back "I'm English. Speak English, I don't understand you".

The Scotsman shouts back "Use both hands, you'll get more in!!"


Gosh, I hope I didn't plagiarize that joke from this site. Posted Image

Anyway, back to your question. An average player can notice how hard the ball feels coming off the club, usually the driver, because that's the club we pull out first whether we really need it or not. Posted Image So most of us would be better off playing a softer ball, like the Wilson 50, the TopFlite D2 Feel, the Maxfli Black Max, the Nike Power Soft, or even a Precept Lady, which has the added advantage of being made in pink. Posted Image

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   gene c

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Posted September 24 2007 - 10:59 AM

Don't golf ball adds (and driver, putter, etc.) sound a lot like speaker adds in magazines? But they are like anything else. Quality is quality and junk, well, isn't. I used to play a lot of golf many years ago and, even though I was never very good, I would choose a golf ball based on the type it was (hardness, dimple pattern, etc.), and my chances of losing it! (based on the layout of the hole) more than the brand. But I wonder if a good and experienced golfer could tell the difference between a "top flight" ball and a run-of-the-mill one after hitting them. I sure couldn't. I was happy just finding it again! Very important since golf is the only game where after you hit the ball you gotta go get it yourself!
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#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Dave_Brown


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Posted September 25 2007 - 05:08 AM

Nice to see some folks around here familiar with the same areas. I went to high school in Grayling and my mother still lives in the area.

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