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How important is swing speed really?


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I just had a few fitting sessions and got some decent data regarding my swing. Of course, I was very interested to see my driver and iron swing speeds. The averages were 93 and 82 respectively. That got me thinking about golf balls, and how different compressions are supposedly better suited to different swing speeds (i.e. the conventional wisdom that you shouldn't hit a compression higher than your swing speed).

 

But I'm curious if anyone sees real noticeable differences between balls that are "designed" for your swing speed vs. ones that are not? Especially when it comes to variants of the same ball/brand, like:

 

TP5 vs. TP5x

ProV1 vs. ProV1x

Chrome Soft vs. Chrome Soft X

Etc.

 

How much does swing speed really matter when choosing a golf ball?

 

And what about launch angle...do you notice some balls are better for your high/mid/low trajectory than others? 

 

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I agree with larryd3 100%.  All of the testing data indicates that swing speed really isn't the way to pick a golf ball.  There ARE some differences from ball to ball at different swing speeds, but th

A lower compression ball will always give you less ball speed with the driver and usually less spin with mid irons (there are exceptions like the Bridgeston Tour BXS, but it's not a super soft ball).

Here's the problem. Ball speed is king. A faster ball will almost always be a longer ball. Distance is determined by ball speed, launch angle, spin, and aerodynamics. The compression of a ball and the

I don't believe ball-speed means a hill of beans to most people.  If a person likes a certain ball, reasoning doesn't matter.  Price is really more of a determining factor for many people.  As long as the ball is USGA equipment standard approved.

 

My FIL is in his 80's and still plays ProV1 and custom blades, and on his best day, was a 12 handicap.   I don't know what my SS is but I still play ProV1 or AVX, even ProV1x when it's really hot out.  Does my SS get the maximum performance out of each of those balls, I suspect not.  I chose them because of how they behave on fast greens, distance is secondary.  Callaway Soft even Soft X are actually longer balls for me.

 

PS edit: years back when I took up the game I played Balata Professional.  Then, there was a correlation between SS and choice in ball.  Had to have the SS power otherwise the ball went nowhere, making ball choice important.

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1 hour ago, Krt22 said:

The myth that you need a certain speed to play a certain ball has largely been debunked. Even slow speed players benefit from higher compression balls. Different balls do launch and spin differently, so that is more dependent on your swing/impact conditions

I don't think it's myth that swing speed and compression have correlation, the PXG robot seemed to show it does.  However, the other robot test certainly has different data so maybe it doesn't. Titleist ball fits green to tee, Bridgestone Tee to green.  Titleist marketing says their is no correlation, Bridgestone marketing says there is correlation. 

 

However, Titleist Tour Speed says it performs best (distance) at 92-93 mph swing speeds.  Of course, this S/S just happens to be the reported average swing of all male golfers.  Coincidence?

 

So if Titleist can design a ball for the average swing speed player that lends credence to the idea that S/S and ball design (compression??) can be correlated.

 

Regards 

 

 

Edited by rwbloom93
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I play AVX and it's a lower compression ball.  My ss is 117-119 mph on average.  You should play a ball that gives you the best numbers on flightscope or trackman.  Anything less and you would be doing yourself a huge disservice on the course. 

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Agree with what Arbeck said above.  Softer has always been the most potential for ball speed loss.  Compression of the golf ball is lost energy.  That's really why driver heads, high COR irons, etc are designed to flex...they give so the golf ball doesn't have to all much during the energy transfer.  If that's your main goal, harder will always be better in that case.  That's only one aspect though, so not necessarily the most important for everyone nor should it be.

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I remember seeing this Youtube video with Dean Snell saying that swing speed is irrelevant when choosing a golf ball.  He explains it at 13:02.

 

 

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Dean Snell is a great American entrepreneur and provides a high quality product at discount prices.

 

That point conceded, I tested dozens of balls for over a year in the same field, and found for my 85 mph driver speed, the softer compression balls had more distance.  I tried all the major tour balls and they were simply shorter.  Also, 4 of the top 5 distance balls hit by the PXG robot (85 mph) were the lower compression balls (RX, ERC, JPX, Duo Pro)...the only Tour ball in the top 5 was the TP5x. Note: the longest ball (Tour B RX) had the worst ball speed, while the highest ball speed ZStarVX was below avg in distance. Also note: the ProV1x was slightly below average in distance when hit by the PXG robot but was the longest ball at 85 mph for the M*S*G robot. The M*S*G robot had the TP5x below avg in distance at 85 mph....I guess robot testing isn't very reliable.

 

Anyway, my personal testing, the PXG robot, Bridgestone, Srixon, etc... conclude SS matters (distance) in ball selection.....Snell, Titleist, etc...say it doesn't (everyone compresses their balls enough).

 

The good news is, the golfer doesn't have to rely on opinions or robots...play whatever you find works best for you.

 

Regards    

Edited by rwbloom93
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On 11/1/2020 at 6:23 PM, rwbloom93 said:

Dean Snell is a great American entrepreneur and provides a high quality product at discount prices.

 

That point conceded, I tested dozens of balls for over a year in the same field, and found for my 85 mph driver speed, the softer compression balls had more distance.  I tried all the major tour balls and they were simply shorter.  Also, 4 of the top 5 distance balls hit by the PXG robot (85 mph) were the lower compression balls (RX, ERC, JPX, Duo Pro)...the only Tour ball in the top 5 was the TP5x. Note: the longest ball (Tour B RX) had the worst ball speed, while the highest ball speed ZStarVX was below avg in distance. Also note: the ProV1x was slightly below average in distance when hit by the PXG robot but was the longest ball at 85 mph for the M*S*G robot. The M*S*G robot had the TP5x below avg in distance at 85 mph....I guess robot testing isn't very reliable.

 

Anyway, my personal testing, the PXG robot, Bridgestone, Srixon, etc... conclude SS matters (distance) in ball selection.....Snell, Titleist, etc...say it doesn't (everyone compresses their balls enough).

 

The good news is, the golfer doesn't have to rely on opinions or robots...play whatever you find works best for you.

 

Regards    


I agree above. Use what works for you. I use these “tests” as guides but rarely are my results the same. SS says nothing about how you strike the ball. Draw, face, angle if attach. So not every SS will deliver the same. I too have seen lower compression balls give me longer driver distance at times. My SS is 95-100 with driver. Bottom lines is try some balls and use what works. 

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On 10/21/2020 at 5:11 PM, larryd3 said:

I don't think swing speed is how to choose a ball.  My driver ss is probably around what yours is and I play prov1x with no problem.  

Same here. I’m slightly slower. Around 88-90 mph with 126-130mph ball speed and the v1x is probably the longest ball I’ve tried.  Flies high too which I need. 

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2 hours ago, arbeck said:

 

Here's the problem. Ball speed is king. A faster ball will almost always be a longer ball. Distance is determined by ball speed, launch angle, spin, and aerodynamics. The compression of a ball and the aerodynamics have no correlation so we can throw that out. That leaves us with launch angle, spin and ball speed. We KNOW the firmer balls have faster ball speeds. This is irrefutable at this point. So if a softer ball travels further, it must have more optimized launch and spin.

 

Here's the rub though. The optimized launch and spin depend on your swing and the equipment you are using. The robots are most likely using the same swing each time and the same equipment. So there will be one ball that optimizes launch conditions for them. However, switch the driver or change the swing, and the optimized ball can also change. That's why comparing distances of balls is a fools errand. The things that are important are ball speed, launch, and spin. Distance can only be compared if you shoot the balls out of a cannon with the exact same launch conditions.

 

A good fitter will almost always be able to set your equipment up to optimize your launch conditions for any ball you use. If you're playing a slightly higher spin ball, less loft and a more forward CG. A low spin ball, the opposite. The higher speed ball will almost always be able to be optimized to go further. That's why it's very important to get fit using the ball you actually play.

One of the better posts I’ve read lately. 

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On 11/4/2020 at 10:29 AM, arbeck said:

 

Here's the problem. Ball speed is king. A faster ball will almost always be a longer ball. Distance is determined by ball speed, launch angle, spin, and aerodynamics. The compression of a ball and the aerodynamics have no correlation so we can throw that out. That leaves us with launch angle, spin and ball speed. We KNOW the firmer balls have faster ball speeds. This is irrefutable at this point. So if a softer ball travels further, it must have more optimized launch and spin.

 

 

Except you just made the case that speed is not king (especially at average golfer swing speeds)...

 

Superior ball speed, with less than optimum launch angle or spin, can be shorter than slower ball speed and optimum launch or spin (e.g. Tour B RX vs Z-star VX in PXG robot test at 85mph and 100mph)....tilt angle can kill distance also, it's an important factor for humans but not for robots. (It's also a reason a high handicapper may want to play an ionomer cover ball vs a tour ball)

 

So thanks to chippa13, it's possible...

  • Ball speed is king, except when it isn't...
  • Launch angle is king, except when it isn't...
  • Spin is king, except when it isn't....

BTW, Aerodynamics is the most critical of all the factors for distance consideration. But I think you mean all golf balls today have "optimum" dimple patterns so it can be discarded.  Probably true, but maybe not...

 

Despite our disagreement, your post is excellent.  I have been saying since shortly after the **M*G*S** ball test that robot data is 99.99% irrelevant to the average golfer because unless you swing like the robot, and use those same clubs, the data has little value...it is not blindly transferable.  Once the 2nd (PXG) robot test was published months later that became more clear because PXG used their clubs with different shaft stiffnesses and driver angles at the different driver speeds (85,100,115mph)...and what do you know?...data was significantly different for some balls in some areas.  The ProV1x went from being the #1 distance ball for 85mph driver S/S to slightly below average. The TP5x went from being slightly below average in distance to the #2 ball....all because the robot changed clubs.

 

So yes, fitters can find the right ball for your swing and the clubs you use, or the right clubs for the ball you use....of course, if you change balls or clubs the process may have to start again. I like to play all the different kind of balls(ionomer and urethane) and get to know them well...it really doesn't take that long (and it's fun).

 

Regards 

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On 11/5/2020 at 5:19 PM, rwbloom93 said:

 

Except you just made the case that speed is not king (especially at average golfer swing speeds)...

 

Superior ball speed, with less than optimum launch angle or spin, can be shorter than slower ball speed and optimum launch or spin (e.g. Tour B RX vs Z-star VX in PXG robot test at 85mph and 100mph)....tilt angle can kill distance also, it's an important factor for humans but not for robots. (It's also a reason a high handicapper may want to play an ionomer cover ball vs a tour ball)

 

So thanks to chippa13, it's possible...

  • Ball speed is king, except when it isn't...
  • Launch angle is king, except when it isn't...
  • Spin is king, except when it isn't....

BTW, Aerodynamics is the most critical of all the factors for distance consideration. But I think you mean all golf balls today have "optimum" dimple patterns so it can be discarded.  Probably true, but maybe not...

 

Despite our disagreement, your post is excellent.  I have been saying since shortly after the **M*G*S** ball test that robot data is 99.99% irrelevant to the average golfer because unless you swing like the robot, and use those same clubs, the data has little value...it is not blindly transferable.  Once the 2nd (PXG) robot test was published months later that became more clear because PXG used their clubs with different shaft stiffnesses and driver angles at the different driver speeds (85,100,115mph)...and what do you know?...data was significantly different for some balls in some areas.  The ProV1x went from being the #1 distance ball for 85mph driver S/S to slightly below average. The TP5x went from being slightly below average in distance to the #2 ball....all because the robot changed clubs.

 

So yes, fitters can find the right ball for your swing and the clubs you use, or the right clubs for the ball you use....of course, if you change balls or clubs the process may have to start again. I like to play all the different kind of balls(ionomer and urethane) and get to know them well...it really doesn't take that long (and it's fun).

 

Regards 

I don't think you understand. Ball speed is always king. I guarantee that you could optimize the club and it's delivery to make the fastest ball go farthest for any swing speed. You might need to move weights or change lofts or modify your angle of attack, but you can ALWAYS make the faster ball go further (assuming they are all within a reasonable spin and launch window, which all tour level balls are). Now if you don't want to change your equipment or your swing at all, you might find a softer ball goes slightly further. But that means you are leaving potential distance on the table.

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1 hour ago, arbeck said:

I don't think you understand. Ball speed is always king. I guarantee that you could optimize the club and it's delivery to make the fastest ball go farthest for any swing speed. You might need to move weights or change lofts or modify your angle of attack, but you can ALWAYS make the faster ball go further (assuming they are all within a reasonable spin and launch window, which all tour level balls are). Now if you don't want to change your equipment or your swing at all, you might find a softer ball goes slightly further. But that means you are leaving potential distance on the table.

 

No, I get it....but how likely are you to determine the fastest ball for your swing (I know it seems like dumb question, but is it)?   When I play a urethane ball I generally play the Tour B RX (it was the longest ball for me when I did extensive testing a few years ago).  The two robot tests from 2019 hit fourteen (14) of the same balls between them at 85 to 115 mph.  The PXG robot data had the Tour B RX the slowest (dead last) golf ball of the 14 similar balls tested.  But the M**SS*GG robot had it the 5th fastest. You would think ball speed would be exactly the same (in general) at the same speed even if different drivers were used. 

 

**However, having said, that you are probably much more right than wrong, because even in the example given (RX) the difference from being the dead last ball and the 5th fastest is less than 1 mph of ball speed at 85 mph SS. (seems like that could simply be a margin error of the measuring device). 

 

When you look at faster driver S/S the variance stays tight (or even tightens)....the fastest balls (no matter the robot or club) are generally the same 4 in any given order (all within 1 mph of each other): 

 

Snell MTB-x                                                                   

TaylorMade TP5x

Srixon Zstar VX

Titleist ProV1x

 

So I reluctantly concede the point, well played young man!

 

Regards

 

 

 

   

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2 hours ago, braincramp52 said:

I've never seen a hell of a lot of difference between any balls as far as distance goes. I play balls that feel good off the putter.

 

Trajectory, spin, and feel/confidence off the putter are king.  However, you can get used to a feel off the putter if you are getting shorter putts!!  Best to try out different balls on-course.  Difference in trajectory ProV1 vs ProV1x is substantial.

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27 minutes ago, azone said:

 

Trajectory, spin, and feel/confidence off the putter are king.  However, you can get used to a feel off the putter if you are getting shorter putts!!  Best to try out different balls on-course.  Difference in trajectory ProV1 vs ProV1x is substantial.

 

 

THIS! Being a lower launch/ slower player ....finding a ball that gets up ....Srixon q-star tour does but doesn't spin as much as v1x....feel is softer but not by much.....need more on course time

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Swing speed shouldn't be important (at all) when choosing a ball.

 

Your choice of ball should be firstly (if not wholly) based on how it feels to you around the green in the scoring zone when you chip and most importantly, putt with it.

 

Choose your favourite ball to play with around the green and then just hope it suits you off the tee...

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@arbeck is spot on with his post.  I'm a perfect example of that.  When I did all my ball testing on course and with my fitting, I kept coming back to the Chromesoft.  It felt the best, had all around the best numbers and performance, and the distance was all close enough.  In fact, I am a half club longer with irons using this ball.  That's for me and my swing.  Yours will be different.  My driver SS is 108.  Also, as @braincramp52 pointed out, most fitters will tell you to work backwards for a ball starting with the putter.  To me, nothing feels better than the Chromesoft off my putter (Clubs in my signature).

 

Now, I say all that and throw this wrench.  My last round I just happened to have a Pro V1 that someone gave me and I played that for a few holes and off the tee, I was longer on a few holes than I have ever been with the Chromesoft at my home course.  So now I've got all offseason to figure that out.

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6 minutes ago, North Butte said:

A decent putter can easily adjust to the "feel" of an unfamiliar golf ball after 20 minutes on the practice green and a round of golf. Playing a ball whose long-game spin, trajectory or distance and/or its short-game control are less than optimum just because it "feels" good off the putter would be nuts. 

Sure you can adjust to a different ball quickly. Rather you like the change or not is a different story. 

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