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

 LICC ·  
LICCLICC Members  2429WRX Points: 835Posts: 2,429 Platinum Tees
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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  11744WRX Points: 1,555Posts: 11,744 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Aug 5, 2019 #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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    every 6 hours.
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    1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
    And don't stuff your head with things you don't understand.” 
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  • North ButteNorth Butte Members  11744WRX Points: 1,555Posts: 11,744 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @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.

    Posted:
    “1lb beefstak, with
    1pt bitter beer
    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.” 
  • BaitkillerBaitkiller Members  1815WRX Points: 204Handicap: YesPosts: 1,815 Platinum Tees
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    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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  • ddettsddetts Roy McAvoy Sioux Falls, SDClubWRX  1917WRX Points: 455Handicap: 7.3Posts: 1,917 ClubWRX
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    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.

    Posted:

    > See my current WITB
    Callaway Rogue Sub Zero 9°, Fujikura VENTUS Red 6 X
    Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero 15° Tensei AV Blue 75 X
    Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero 18° Tensei AV Blue 75 X
    Mizuno MP-18 MMC 3 Fli-Hi | 4-PW, Project X LZ 6.5
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  • BaitkillerBaitkiller Members  1815WRX Points: 204Handicap: YesPosts: 1,815 Platinum Tees
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    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.

    Posted:
    Turn over damnit!
    Krank 9* Formula 5 UST Tour
    Adams 15* wasabi
    XXIO pro 5
    Adams Pro Gold Forged 3-46* / Steelfibers
    Vanilla wedges 53 and 58*
    Betti-1
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  • StanksStanks Everything I post is confrontational Members  1814WRX Points: 278Handicap: ?Posts: 1,814 Platinum Tees
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    I’m not a 10. I notice a difference, quite easily. Performance and feel off the club faces.

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  • trackcoach13trackcoach13 NJMembers  1115WRX Points: 295Handicap: 4Posts: 1,115 Platinum Tees
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    The lowest round I ever shot was a 67 with a Pinnacle Soft. YMMV

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    Driver: Cobra F9 with HZRDUS SMOKE Stiff
    3W: Titleist 917F2 w/Fujikura Speeder Pro Tour Spec 84 Stiff
    2I: Srixon Z U65 18 Degree w/Miyazaki Kaula 7s
    Irons: Mizuno MP-54 3-PW DG S300 
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  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers  3315WRX Points: 853Handicap: 2.9Posts: 3,315 Titanium Tees
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    If you have the speed, you can tell the difference.

    Posted:
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    Vokey SM7 48* F Grind
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  • Bad9Bad9 Members  4812WRX Points: 648Handicap: 9.2Posts: 4,812 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @LICC said:

    On -, @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.

    Posted:
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  • ddettsddetts Roy McAvoy Sioux Falls, SDClubWRX  1917WRX Points: 455Handicap: 7.3Posts: 1,917 ClubWRX
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    On -, @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

    Posted:

    > See my current WITB
    Callaway Rogue Sub Zero 9°, Fujikura VENTUS Red 6 X
    Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero 15° Tensei AV Blue 75 X
    Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero 18° Tensei AV Blue 75 X
    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  6644WRX Points: 302Posts: 6,644 Titanium Tees
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    feel and price are the biggest differences

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  • North ButteNorth Butte Members  11744WRX Points: 1,555Posts: 11,744 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @Bad9 said:

    On -, @LICC said:

    On -, @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".

    Posted:
    “1lb beefstak, with
    1pt bitter beer
    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  1953WRX Points: 1,112Posts: 1,953 Platinum Tees
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    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.

    Posted:
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    PING Cadence TR Ketsch Putter
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  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers  3315WRX Points: 853Handicap: 2.9Posts: 3,315 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @ddetts said:

    On -, @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.

    Posted:
    2016 M1 9.5 tuned to 7.5
    TM r15 3 wood
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    Mizuno JPX 900 HM 5-PW
    Vokey SM7 48* F Grind
    Vokey SM7 54* F Grind
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  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers  3315WRX Points: 853Handicap: 2.9Posts: 3,315 Titanium Tees
    Joined:  edited Aug 5, 2019 #17

    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.

    Posted:
    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
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  • LeoLeo99LeoLeo99 Members  4924WRX Points: 768Posts: 4,924 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @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.

    Posted:
  • SNIPERBBBSNIPERBBB Hit Ball Hard SE OhioMembers  3315WRX Points: 853Handicap: 2.9Posts: 3,315 Titanium Tees
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    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.

    Posted:
    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  6106WRX Points: 1,101Posts: 6,106 Titanium Tees
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    On -, @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.

    Posted:
  • BaitkillerBaitkiller Members  1815WRX Points: 204Handicap: YesPosts: 1,815 Platinum Tees
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    On -, @buckeyefl said:

    On -, @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.

    Posted:
    Turn over damnit!
    Krank 9* Formula 5 UST Tour
    Adams 15* wasabi
    XXIO pro 5
    Adams Pro Gold Forged 3-46* / Steelfibers
    Vanilla wedges 53 and 58*
    Betti-1
    K-sig
  • GSDriverGSDriver Members  890WRX Points: 181Handicap: 4Posts: 890 Golden Tee
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    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.

    Posted:
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    All grips except putter are Iomic Sticky 2.3
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  • spk7spk7 Members  90WRX Points: 37Posts: 90 Fairways
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    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

    Posted:
  • spk7spk7 Members  90WRX Points: 37Posts: 90 Fairways
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    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

    Posted:
  • DpavsDpavs OverWRX'ed MichiganClubWRX  3846WRX Points: 525Posts: 3,846 ClubWRX
    Joined:  edited Aug 7, 2019 #25

    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!

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    Post edited by Dpavs on
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