Best Golf Balls
One of golf’s simple pleasures is to pick up a sleeve of new balls and go play them. It’s one thing to take a few whacks with a new ball, but quite another to determine in an orderly, methodical way if it’s better for you than your current gamer.
Don’t choose a new ball based solely on driver distance. There’s more to golf than eking out a few extra yards off the tee. We suggest you start the evaluation process on the practice putting green with two or three models you’re interested in. Go ahead and roll some putts. Feel (and listen to) the ball coming off the putter face. Next, see how the balls perform on chips, partial-wedge shots and full wedges. The same thing applies when hitting iron shots from the fairway. Pay attention to the feel, flight, spin and control. Does any model stand out? Eventually, make your way to the tee box and hit a few drives. The key is to find the ball that performs best with the wedges and irons. And if you’re really, really serious about ball fitting, determine the driver and fairway woods at the end of the fitting that match up best to that particular ball.
Remember, the ball that matches your game might not work for someone else. There are no absolutes. Since you’ll need to narrow the field, we’ve highlighted the top-performing balls on the market here. The models below are the ones in play every week on the PGA TOUR, LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR Champions. As always, please feel free to consult with your local Golf Galaxy advisor and try out our online Golf Ball Selector Tool to find the right golf ball for your game. One more thought: There’s even more reason to go through the ball testing process if you’ve recently added new clubs to the bag.
Totally revamped for 2022, the Chrome Soft series features an upgraded core, softer urethane cover, enhanced aerodynamics and the company’s dynamic visual aid (the Triple Track). The improved core construction produces faster ball speed, the new dimple pattern contributes to a more stable, consistent flight, and the cover enhances control around the greens. Meanwhile, the blue-red-blue stripes can help players to aim the ball with better accuracy when putting.
Here’s how the three models differ from one another: Chrome Soft, for players of all abilities, is the softest-feeling ball; Chrome Soft X LS, for players who prefer to see a straight ball flight, is the lowest-spinning one on greenside shots; and the Chrome Soft X, for skilled players with fast swings (including Jon Rahm), produces the most backspin from tee-to-green. As a result, it’s best suited for creative shot making.
There’s a lot of tech in the 5-piece Tour Performance (TP) balls. Both the TP5 and TP5x have a large, lively core (similar in design but the actual formulation differs). In fact, the first four layers in each ball get progressively stiffer, which helps generate more speed (and carry) on full swings. The outermost layer, which is the soft urethane cover, provides high-level spin on flop shots, low runners, etc. In addition, the updated dimples—shallower with steeper side walls—and a more aerodynamic pattern enable shots to remain airborne longer, but not higher, which would hamper flight in windy conditions. Head-to-head, the TP5 feels softer, flies marginally lower, and spins more on full iron shots and partial wedges. By comparison, Rory McIlroy’s ball of choice, the TP5x, is faster and longer on full shots.
Maxfli, for the uninitiated, is one of Golf Galaxy’s “direct-to-consumer” brands, which means the company can offer a quality product at lower prices than the big-name companies. The Tour and Tour X balls, for instance, perform like premium, Tour-level products. Both models have a soft, cast urethane cover that provides plenty of spin on low pitches, lob shots, and so on. The reformulated core—larger than in previous offerings—contributes to more speed on full-swing shots (higher ball speed translates to more distance).
The Tour model feels slightly softer than the Tour X and is engineered to have a mid-trajectory flight. The Tour X, which is still a soft-feeling ball, flies higher, and the parallel lines stamped on each ball can be used to help with aim and alignment while putting.
Urethane covers are revered for their softness and high-spin qualities without sacrificing long-game distance. In the Tour B balls, Bridgestone blends urethane with additional materials, called “impact modifiers,” to heighten performance. On finesse wedge shots, for example, the cover grips the clubface just a little longer, for more spin and control. Likewise, on longer shots, the cover can spring back a little faster, resulting in incremental gains in ball speed. The impact modifiers vary by model.
Bridgestone categorizes its balls according to swing speed. The X and XS are best for players who swing 105 mph or faster, while the RX and RXS fit everyone else. More delineation: Golfers who want a little more length off the tee should try X or RX and those who prioritize softer feel and greenside spin should go for the XS (Tiger’s ball) or RXS.
With the addition of the Z-Star Diamond, the Srixon’s premium Tour lineup is more robust than ever. Naturally, their three models fly a long way off the tee and spin more than most on shots into and around the green. Here’s the skinny: The Z-Star, a 3-piece construction for players who swing 90+ mph, feels softest and provides the most backspin on greenside shots due, in part, to a reengineered urethane cover. The 4-piece Z-Star XV, for 100+ mph swingers, is the longest one, feels the firmest and spins the least on short shots. Built for 90+ mph swingers, the 3-piece Z-Star Diamond (played by Brooks Koepka) is a tweener in terms of feel and spin on partial swings. But it spins more on full-swing shots than the others, making it a better fit for players who don’t produce a lot of spin on their own.
This iconic duo continues to be the industry’s top-selling Tour balls more than 20 years after their debut. The “2021” Pro V1 has a faster core, softer cover and improved aerodynamics compared to the 2019 version, all of which add up to longer carry distance and better feel. The new Pro V1 also flies on a flatter trajectory with lower spin off the driver, yet full-wedge shots have more spin, which is where you really want it. The number-one ranked player in the world, Scottie Scheffler, used the Pro V1 to win The Masters earlier this year.
The 2021 Pro V1x feels firmer than the Pro V1 on full wedge and mid-iron shots. It also spins more and flies higher. This combination enables the Pro V1x to carry as far (even a tick longer) and land on a steeper angle so shots stop more quickly on the green.
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