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Today's golf balls are the culmination of a variety of disciplines and talents, from material science to physics. Since there are many kinds of golfers, engineers have devised many kinds of golf balls. When matched correctly to a golfer's game, specific golf balls can increase enjoyment as well as chances for better scores.

The technology of golf balls has reached an unprecedented level, offering different covers, cores, dimple patterns, and compressions to best suit golfers' varying needs. In general, golfers should look for a ball that offers low spin and high launch angle off the driver and the appropriate amount of spin around the greens. Just as each golfer has his or her own shoe size, not every golf ball will fit every golfer.

Swing speed is the biggest factor in determining which ball is right for which golfer - golfers with lower swing speeds should typically use a harder distance golf ball, while golfers with higher swing speeds should typically use a softer golf ball that offers more feel and control.

Golfers should contact their local Dick's Sporting Goods PGA Professional with any questions about golf ball selection or any other part of their game.

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Distance

  • A ball designed to react quickly off the clubface for maximum speed, which results in more overall distance.
  • Distance balls typically appeal to people who find every yard counts. However where these balls may bring 15 more yards off the tee, they might not stop as quickly on the greens.

Control

  • A ball designed to deter excessive spin.
  • Control balls help golfers fight hooking-and-slicing tendencies.

Spin

  • A ball intended to create as much backspin as possible, which generally leads to higher trajectory and better stopping ability around the green.
  • If distance is not an issue for a golfer, but he or she prefers more control around the greens, then spin golf balls may be for them.

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Overall Design

Two-piece balls:

  • Contain a large solid core and Surlyn cover
  • Enhance distance and durability
  • Most Distance golf balls are 2-piece

Three-piece balls:

  • Contain a solid core that typically exists to enhance distance
  • Usually has a thin middle layer, called the mantle, designed to either enhance spin or deliver more energy to the core, improving distance
  • Surlyn or urethane cover is designed to enhance distance (surlyn) or spin (urethane)

Core

  • Solid cores are usually made of a high-energy rubber or plastic compound
  • Titanium cores provide more reaction and greater distance

Cover

  • Determines feel on shorter shots like putts and chips, a softer cover typically spins more for better control around the green
  • Blends co-polymer plastics, high-energy rubber, or similar resistant compounds
  • Multi-covers (3-piece balls) layer material over the core to induce different playing responses
  • Surlyn-covered balls typically travel farther with less spin
  • Urethane-covered balls are typically softer and offer more enhanced feel, although they don't resist scratching well

Dimples

  • Vary between 300 and 500
  • Affects the aerodynamics for more or less trajectory
  • Larger dimples promote higher trajectory
  • Smaller dimples promote lower trajectory

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  • When thinking about which ball will help you achieve par, it's best to imagine a good-sized par-4. If getting an extra 15 yards off the tee would help you most, then maybe a distance ball would help. If stopping the ball more quickly on the green would help most, then perhaps a spin or control ball would be best.
  • In general, most golfers play golf balls that are too soft for their swing speed and should steer more toward a distance golf ball, so if a golfer is playing a soft golf ball perhaps he or she should try a distance ball next time around.
  • Some balls are designed for slower swing speeds. These balls typically have lightweight construction that helps promote higher trajectory. They are generally marketed for women or seniors, but don't let labels fool you. Plenty of men play these balls because for them they yield the most distance.

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Again, if you have any questions about golf ball selection or any other part of your game please contact your local Dick's Sporting Goods PGA Professional.