Can a recreational 10+ handicap golfer REALLY tell the difference between golf balls?

LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭

I played two balls per hole the other day and decided to test this out. I played a Kirkland for all 18, a Titleist for 9, and a Callaway for 9. I couldn't tell you I saw any significant difference in performance. For recreational golfers, how much difference is there really among the different golf ball brands? Isn't it all just marketing and brand bias?

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  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 10,867 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 5, 2019 7:23pm #2

    It's going to take a lot of shots under pretty controlled conditions for a 10-handicap to distinguish between two balls of different brands but similar construction. Heck, on a robot it might take dozens of shots to reliably say that a K3 spins more than a ProV1 or vice versa. For a 10-handicapper maybe 100 shots?

    Now if you want to distinguish between a Titleist Velocity and Pro V1, just go hit a sleeve of each one with a 7-iron to a firm green. You will instantly see that one is spinning and the other isn't.

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  • LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 5, 2019 8:13pm #3

    @North Butte said:
    It's going to take a lot of shots under pretty controlled conditions for a 10-handicap to distinguish between two balls of different brands but similar construction. Heck, on a robot it might take dozens of shots to reliably say that a K3 spins more than a ProV1 or vice versa. For a 10-handicapper maybe 100 shots?

    Now if you want to distinguish between a Titleist Velocity and Pro V1, just go hit a sleeve of each one with a 7-iron to a firm green. You will instantly see that one is spinning and the other isn't.

    Good point. But even with balls of different construction, there are probably very few shots in a round where a recreational golfer will notice a performance difference.

  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 10,867 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @farmer said:
    An expensive, high end ball will result in 12 minute searches. Pinnacle, 7 minutes tops.

    Your forgot the "geezer adjustment". You have to add 50% to those averages when it involves golfers over 70 years of age.

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  • BaitkillerBaitkiller Members Posts: 1,733 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Us mid-cap chops are cyclic by nature. That means many of us, when playing may often have one facet of our (game) on lock while the other disciplines are well, less disciplined. And the assignments tend to rotate. Seldom does the whole game come together but generally something is working. When my driver is behaving I can tell alot of difference in ball performance and even, gasp.. feel. My mid and long iron play pretty much sucks so I could play Sponge Bob balls and not notice. My wedge game has days of genius and on those rare occasions the ball makes a big difference for me for spin and expected distance. Putting? I think anyone who plays once a month knows when they like how a ball feels off their putter.

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  • LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 5, 2019 8:42pm #7

    @Baitkiller said:
    Us mid-cap chops are cyclic by nature. That means many of us, when playing may often have one facet of our (game) on lock while the other disciplines are well, less disciplined. And the assignments tend to rotate. Seldom does the whole game come together but generally something is working. When my driver is behaving I can tell alot of difference in ball performance and even, gasp.. feel. My mid and long iron play pretty much sucks so I could play Sponge Bob balls and not notice. My wedge game has days of genius and on those rare occasions the ball makes a big difference for me for spin and expected distance. Putting? I think anyone who plays once a month knows when they like how a ball feels off their putter.

    I think people definitely notice a different feel, and if one ball feels better than another you will likely play better. But I doubt people really have a difference in performance. I think it's mostly in our heads. When I played the multiple balls out on the course, it was telling that when I hit good drives, the balls were within 5 yards of each other, and not one consistently more than the other. When I hit good pitch shots, the balls generally reacted similarly on the greens. Maybe there are some differences on height and launch angle, but it is probably so minor that it isn't really a difference.

  • ddettsddetts Roy McAvoy Sioux Falls, SDClubWRX Posts: 1,698 ClubWRX

    I'm a 7 and I can't tell the difference between most "premium" balls. In my bag, I normally have any number of multiple brands (ProV1, ProV1x, TP5x, Vice Pro+, ChromeSoft) as I keep found premium balls & put them in play as long as they aren't in too rough of shape. There are a few exceptions that have a more distinct feel, but for the most part I'm sure I wouldn't do well at all in a blind test of various premium balls.

    Now as others have stated, can I tell the difference between a Pinnacle/Top Flite/Titleist Velocity/Maxfli/etc? Absolutely.


    > See my current WITB
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  • BaitkillerBaitkiller Members Posts: 1,733 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    To that point^ Last year at a charity scramble my driver swing was perfection. I hit every fairway and was pleasingly long for me. I was playing 4 piece costcos and the event gave everybody a sleeve of I cant remember what. Last hole one guy had 3 mullys in his pocket and told me to burn them. I hit two Ksigs and two I cant remembers. The Ksigs were maybe 8 yards apart and the same distance. The two other balls were also roughly 8 yards apart and again the same distance relative to each other from the tee. The Ksigs were roughly 10 yards further making a nice little square. That is my only real world experience in regards to actual performance.

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  • trackcoach13trackcoach13 Members Posts: 1,003 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    The lowest round I ever shot was a 67 with a Pinnacle Soft. YMMV

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  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers Posts: 2,640 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    If you have the speed, you can tell the difference.

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  • Bad9Bad9 Members Posts: 4,299 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @LICC said:

    @North Butte said:
    It's going to take a lot of shots under pretty controlled conditions for a 10-handicap to distinguish between two balls of different brands but similar construction. Heck, on a robot it might take dozens of shots to reliably say that a K3 spins more than a ProV1 or vice versa. For a 10-handicapper maybe 100 shots?

    Now if you want to distinguish between a Titleist Velocity and Pro V1, just go hit a sleeve of each one with a 7-iron to a firm green. You will instantly see that one is spinning and the other isn't.

    Good point. But even with balls of different construction, there are probably very few shots in a round where a recreational golfer will notice a performance difference.

    Something that often gets overlooked is course conditions. I play on a course that's not closely mown and would generally be considered a little shaggy. Hard to get a clean lie so its harder to get shots to spin like more manicured courses. I don't put a lot of spin on the ball anyway so 75% of the time a higher spin ball is not really getting me anything. I find the vast majority of balls(high end and not high end0 go similar distances off the tee for me.

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  • ddettsddetts Roy McAvoy Sioux Falls, SDClubWRX Posts: 1,698 ClubWRX

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    If you have the speed, you can tell the difference.

    What's the threshold here? I'm probably 108mph driver and can't see or feel any noticeable difference between most premium models without a launch monitor telling me the small differences in launch, spin, peak height, landing angle, etc


    > See my current WITB
    Callaway Rogue Sub Zero 9°, Project X Even Flow Blue 6.5 65 gram
    TaylorMade '17 M2 Tour 15°, Kuro Kage Silver Dual-Core TiNi
    TaylorMade P790 UDI 17°, Project X HZRDUS85 6.0
    Mizuno MP-18 MMC 3 Fli-Hi | 4-PW, Project X LZ 6.5
    Mizuno T7 52-09 | 58-12
    TaylorMade TP Mullen

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  • Tanner25Tanner25 Members Posts: 6,314 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    feel and price are the biggest differences

  • North ButteNorth Butte Members Posts: 10,867 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @Bad9 said:

    @LICC said:

    @North Butte said:
    It's going to take a lot of shots under pretty controlled conditions for a 10-handicap to distinguish between two balls of different brands but similar construction. Heck, on a robot it might take dozens of shots to reliably say that a K3 spins more than a ProV1 or vice versa. For a 10-handicapper maybe 100 shots?

    Now if you want to distinguish between a Titleist Velocity and Pro V1, just go hit a sleeve of each one with a 7-iron to a firm green. You will instantly see that one is spinning and the other isn't.

    Good point. But even with balls of different construction, there are probably very few shots in a round where a recreational golfer will notice a performance difference.

    Something that often gets overlooked is course conditions. I play on a course that's not closely mown and would generally be considered a little shaggy. Hard to get a clean lie so its harder to get shots to spin like more manicured courses. I don't put a lot of spin on the ball anyway so 75% of the time a higher spin ball is not really getting me anything. I find the vast majority of balls(high end and not high end0 go similar distances off the tee for me.

    Our Bermuda fairways are fairly tight. Not necessarily super firm but there's not much grass under the ball.

    There's a muni course I play once or twice a year that's probably like you're talking about. The fairways are a bit patchy but the places which aren't beat down from cart traffic (!!!) are about like what you'd find the first cut of our rough. It's like 50/50 whether a ball will spin or not, even with a short club like 8-iron or 9-iron.

    It doesn't take much. I hit a GW this weekend out of what I'd consider an absolutely perfect like in the short rough. Looked like just a tiny fringe of grass under the ball but my nice, high shot bounced forward 3-4 yards when it hit the green and then rolled another 10 feet. My partner said "Flyer" and I was like, "Really, looked like a perfect lie to me".

    “1lb beefstak, with
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    every 6 hours.
    1 ten-mile walk every morning.
    1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
    And don't stuff your head with things you don't understand.” 
  • agolf1agolf1 Members Posts: 1,468 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    I've posted many thoughts in the "is a urethane ball hurting me" thread. People can definitely tell the difference in feel and many can likely see some difference in wedge shots (and possibly iron shots) with the premium balls vs. surlyn balls.

    That being said, I'd bet that the difference in performance is 1, maybe 2 shots at this skill level (and possibly zero for a lot of people too). I've asked others what they think the advantage is (in strokes) and only 1 person has answered (a scratch said 1-3 shots). Many of the pro urethane guys seem to fall down when you actually lay out some numbers and logically discuss how much of a difference it could be.

    To be clear, I'm all fine if people think a urethane is better (it probably is) and just want to play it. I may switch later this year. I just don't think it matters to the degree people bash suryln balls and rave about urethane balls on here.

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  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers Posts: 2,640 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @ddetts said:

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    If you have the speed, you can tell the difference.

    What's the threshold here? I'm probably 108mph driver and can't see or feel any noticeable difference between most premium models without a launch monitor telling me the small differences in launch, spin, peak height, landing angle, etc

    Shows up more off approach shots. Especially when trying to flight the ball and taking or adding spin.

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  • LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @SNIPERBBB said:

    @ddetts said:

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    If you have the speed, you can tell the difference.

    What's the threshold here? I'm probably 108mph driver and can't see or feel any noticeable difference between most premium models without a launch monitor telling me the small differences in launch, spin, peak height, landing angle, etc

    Shows up more off approach shots. Especially when trying to flight the ball and taking or adding spin.

    Sounds dubious. My swing speed is not bad and @ddetts is very fast, and we don’t see the difference. How fast are you talking?

  • LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @agolf1 said:
    I've posted many thoughts in the "is a urethane ball hurting me" thread. People can definitely tell the difference in feel and many can likely see some difference in wedge shots (and possibly iron shots) with the premium balls vs. surlyn balls.

    That being said, I'd bet that the difference in performance is 1, maybe 2 shots at this skill level (and possibly zero for a lot of people too). I've asked others what they think the advantage is (in strokes) and only 1 person has answered (a scratch said 1-3 shots). Many of the pro urethane guys seem to fall down when you actually lay out some numbers and logically discuss how much of a difference it could be.

    To be clear, I'm all fine if people think a urethane is better (it probably is) and just want to play it. I may switch later this year. I just don't think it matters to the degree people bash suryln balls and rave about urethane balls on here.

    I’m one who doesn’t see a significant difference playing a urethane ball or other.

  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers Posts: 2,640 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 5, 2019 11:31pm #20

    108 isnt fast, well to most that is fast as thats about my average.

    Like I said, I see it more with the approach shots, IE right now ProV1 spins more off irons/wedges than my snell MTB X's. The snells are a bit longer off driver. The greens I play are pretty hard and its rare that I can spin a ball back on any green but when I grab a ProV it will come back occasionally.

    2016 M1 9.5 tuned to 7.5
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    Mizuno JPX 900 HM 5-PW
    Vokey SM7 48* F Grind
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    Vokey SM7 58* M Grind
  • LeoLeo99LeoLeo99 Members Posts: 4,246 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    108 isnt fast, well to most that is fast as thats about my average.

    Like I said, I see it more with the approach shots, IE right now ProV1 spins more off irons/wedges than my snell MTB X's. The snells are a bit longer off driver. The greens I play are pretty hard and its rare that I can spin a ball back on any green but when I grab a ProV it will come back occasionally.

    108 is faster than most.

    I see a difference in balls if the greens are firm. On soft greens the balls get more similar.

  • LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    108 isnt fast, well to most that is fast as thats about my average.

    Like I said, I see it more with the approach shots, IE right now ProV1 spins more off irons/wedges than my snell MTB X's. The snells are a bit longer off driver. The greens I play are pretty hard and its rare that I can spin a ball back on any green but when I grab a ProV it will come back occasionally.

    108 is probably faster than 98% of golfers in the world.

  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers Posts: 2,640 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    Everything is relative. I'm kinda bummed about my driver speed atm but not much I can do about until my back finally decides to relax.

    2016 M1 9.5 tuned to 7.5
    TM r15 3 wood
    Adams Idea Pro 2h/4h
    Mizuno JPX 900 HM 5-PW
    Vokey SM7 48* F Grind
    Vokey SM7 54* F Grind
    Vokey SM7 58* M Grind
  • buckeyeflbuckeyefl Members Posts: 6,067 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    108 isnt fast, well to most that is fast as thats about my average.

    Like I said, I see it more with the approach shots, IE right now ProV1 spins more off irons/wedges than my snell MTB X's. The snells are a bit longer off driver. The greens I play are pretty hard and its rare that I can spin a ball back on any green but when I grab a ProV it will come back occasionally.

    Compared to average 108 is extremely fast. Many people could play their whole lives and never see someone at that speed.

  • BaitkillerBaitkiller Members Posts: 1,733 ✭✭✭✭✭✭

    @buckeyefl said:

    @SNIPERBBB said:
    108 isnt fast, well to most that is fast as thats about my average.

    Like I said, I see it more with the approach shots, IE right now ProV1 spins more off irons/wedges than my snell MTB X's. The snells are a bit longer off driver. The greens I play are pretty hard and its rare that I can spin a ball back on any green but when I grab a ProV it will come back occasionally.

    Compared to average 108 is extremely fast. Many people could play their whole lives and never see someone at that speed.

    I saw 105 once but the ball put a hole in wall dead right of the LM and I had to limp to my car.

    Turn over damnit!
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  • GSDriverGSDriver Members Posts: 626 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd hope so. Hit a range ball, any 'tour' ball, then a TopFlite or Pinnacle distance ball, if can't tell the difference, likely not striking it very solidly.
    Distance wise will be relatively close, around the greens you should be able to notice a difference immediately.

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  • spk7spk7 Members Posts: 88 ✭✭✭

    It all depends on the two balls you’re trying to tell a difference between, if it’s pro v vs pinnacle then yes you should be able to easily tell a difference

  • LICCLICC Members Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @spk7 said:
    It all depends on the two balls you’re trying to tell a difference between, if it’s pro v vs pinnacle then yes you should be able to easily tell a difference

    It would be interesting if someone did a blind test of 10-15 handicappers. Take all markings off the balls, have them hit various shots and see if they could identify which was which. And also measure the performance. I have my doubts those golfers would be able to tell very much.

  • spk7spk7 Members Posts: 88 ✭✭✭

    You’re probably right because I have friends who are like 15 handicaps that argue with me that there isn’t a difference between any balls

  • DpavsDpavs OverWRX'ed Members Posts: 3,409 ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
    edited Aug 7, 2019 10:33pm #30

    Feel wise I don't think it matters as much what your handicap is. Firstly, perception is king. Second, often a good portion of perceived feel is related to the sound of the ball striking the club face. This is of course true for any club from putter to driver. So talent aside, sound/hearing alone will have a significant impact on perceived feel. Talent or ability in this regards becomes much less of a factor. Now performance wise.. it's likely a different story. Distance is fairly easily discernible for anyone who plays a fair amount of golf so I think even very average players know when a ball is under performing in this regards. Spin is a totally different subject and this is where I think the much more accomplished player can distinguish much more than the average player. Of course as well know, average here on GolfWRX is way above the normal average so this obviously applies far less here!

    Post edited by Dpavs on

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