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Is there really any truth to softer (lower compression) golf balls being more forgiving?


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Callaway has started mentioning it in their YouTube marketing stuff, at least.    Not as many people are buying the previous generation “you can’t compress a high compression ball so you lose d

So Mr. Haig, ain't ya glad ya asked ?

Marketing nonsense.   

1 hour ago, Haig said:

I’ve heard the claims that softer lower compression balls are more forgiving on mis-hits or when you don’t catch the sweet spot but is there really any truth to that?

I have found it to be true (distance wise) but many think the idea is absurd. 

 

I do not hold to the idea of playing one ball and sticking to it, too much fun experimenting with the wide variety of offerings. I will play 1/2 dozen different balls during 18 holes and practice with dozens of others.  I don't play serious matches, if I did, I would probably find one ball and stick to it.

 

The two robot tests have taught us that simply changing clubs in the robots "hand" changes ball performance. I wouldn't think whatever is true for me is not necessarily true for you or anyone else.

 

Anyway, you'll just have to try some softer balls and determine for yourself....if you are really interested. 

 

 

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Lower spinning balls are more "forgiving" many lower spinning urethane balls just happen to be softer as well. You will lose spin with every club though.  

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8 minutes ago, North Butte said:

Marketing nonsense. 
 

It's funny you say that because Bluedot (I think?) has challenged me that softer ball marketing doesn't even make that claim...lol.

 

I don't care about marketing, only my practice and on course experience. Results may vary...

 

Regards

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I can't imagine this is true to any noticeable amount.  The ball may spin less which keeps it online a little bit better.  Probably, the feel is not as harsh and some of these lower compression balls fly higher so maybe the shot still looks/feels half decent.  But the main factor seems like it should be the strike and energy lost/side spin imparted on the ball.  Don't believe this will change much.  I usually play a Supersoft or SoftFeel so like these golf balls but just don't see this as a benefit.

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21 minutes ago, North Butte said:

Callaway has started mentioning it in their YouTube marketing stuff, at least. 
 

Not as many people are buying the previous generation “you can’t compress a high compression ball so you lose distance” nonsense. That is demonstrably false and gradually most people are noticing that they do not, in fact, lose any distance due to high compression. 
 

So now they will go with the more forgiving meme and see how many people swallow that. For a while at least. 
 

After they run that one into the ground, who knows? Maybe claim low compression balls don’t lip out as often on putts?🥳

 

 

I used to believe that if you can't compress a ball you lose significant distance.  It's not true.  I will say this though.  I find that a lot of softer balls for me anyways, spin too much so I do see some distance loss.  Not from not being able to compress it.  For example, the Noodle.  Low compression but I spin the hell out of it. 

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2 hours ago, rwbloom93 said:

 

I do not hold to the idea of playing one ball and sticking to it, too much fun experimenting with the wide variety of offerings. I will play 1/2 dozen different balls during 18 holes and practice with dozens of others.  I don't play serious matches, if I did, I would probably find one ball and stick to it.

 

 

Ha, this is totally me. I currently have 10 different balls in my bag and play 3 or 4 at a time. I play solo at the club with nobody around. I started a thread a few months back trying to tell the difference, still no huge difference. 🤣

 

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Still have a few Nikes rolling around, also some Wilson Duo in Orange. Other than putting, I don't notice a huge difference. The Spalding's have a click on long irons, but that's about it. 

 

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Softer balls are lower spin balls. There is some thought that if you spin the ball less you will get less curvature on your shots. This isn't really the case. The spin difference between a soft ball and a firmer ball won't make an appreciable difference in the amount of curvature. The ball won't change the spin axis, and the amount to spin will be close enough that you won't be able to see a difference in straightness.

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Well ... if the ball doesn't spin as much, it can't spin sideways as much, which means it shouldn't hook or slice as much ... right?

 

 

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1 minute ago, Jeff58 said:


No.

And that is why you don't take physics advice from a Journalism major ... who took 5 years to graduate.

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30 minutes ago, tatertot said:

And that is why you don't take physics advice from a Journalism major ... who took 5 years to graduate.


There is some amount of uncleared thinking on ball aerodynamics, and to some extent that should be expected. I will attempt to explain, and apologize in advance if it isn’t clear.

 

A golf ball is an aerodynamic structure, as is an airplane. They have a source of propulsion, either their engine or you. They have a source of lift, either their wings (mostly), or their dimple pattern. A big/heavy/slow airplane needs a larger wing to provide more lift, even though a larger wing creates more drag. Golf balls, on the other hand, are all the same size and weight, and a sphere is not at all an optimal aerodynamic structure. The one thing that a golf ball has that an airplane wing doesn’t have is spin. More spin, for a given dimple pattern, is the same as a larger wing, it creates more lift.


If you’ve followed so far, what we should understand is that a ball that spins less needs a bigger “wing” than one that spins more to achieve the same optimal aerodynamic performance.

 

In terms of both the OP and your post, when your “airplane” is traveling more slowly than optimal, a bigger wing will help keep you from crashing into the ground, and is therefore more “forgiving”.

Conversely, your larger winged airplane, or a ball that is relying on a more aggressive dimple pattern because it spins less, will *by definition* be more reactive to any any source of lift, be that wind, a non-zero spin axis (side spin), change in launch angle, or ball speed. It has to, it’s a bigger wing...

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16 hours ago, rwbloom93 said:

It's funny you say that because Bluedot (I think?) has challenged me that softer ball marketing doesn't even make that claim...lol.

 

I don't care about marketing, only my practice and on course experience. Results may vary...

 

Regards

 

I will absolutely cop to that.  If I've ever seen a claim, either in print or broadcast, from a golf ball manufacturer that a particular ball is "forgiving", then I don't remember it.  Since golf equipment companies aren't shy about making extravagant claims for their products, I will choose to infer that this means there's just no such thing as a "forgiving" golf ball. 

 

If anything, it would seem to me that a firmer ball, which typically goes farther, and/or a higher spin ball would be "forgiving" because they would at least marginally overcome a swing that didn't generate either distance or spin on it's own.  But that's really stretching the point, and again, isn't something that is even being claimed in advertising. 

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There are a couple Callaway YouTube videos showing ball fitting sessions. There are offhand, passing mention that maybe the lower compression (of the Callaway balls they were fitting) would be more forgiving. Not a specific claim, of course. Just a mention to seed that particular meme in the minds of credulous viewers of that video. Subtle. 

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On 6/11/2021 at 9:30 PM, agolf1 said:

  But the main factor seems like it should be the strike and energy lost/side spin imparted on the ball.  Don't believe this will change much.  I usually play a Supersoft or SoftFeel so like these golf balls but just don't see this as a benefit.

The quote above is what I believe could be happening....and I would note I mostly see the forgiveness on the irons (but sometimes FW's) on toe center mishits either low or high on the face.  

 

For faster swing speeds the firmer balls open up a pretty decent ball speed gap with the "softer" balls, but as swing speed decreases the ball speed difference starts to equalize. For example, the two robot tests do show lower compression balls have improved ball speed vs firmer balls as swing speed gets lower, especially at and under 85 mph. Also note, mid irons are generally swung at 80% of driver SS and wedges around 75%. So a driver 85 mph SS is generally 68 mph with a 7iron.  GolfSpyMY showed 3 of the 4 fastest balls were lower compression ball for the 7iron. Today's golfer robot had the Chrome Soft and Srixon AD333 as two of the fastest balls at 80mph 7 iron speeds.

 

Couple the faster ball speed with lower spin and it's easy to understand why "softer" balls can outperform distance wise for the average golfer...either pure strike or slight mishit. 

 

Munichop makes an interesting comment about dimple patterns, I suppose that could be a key factor also.

 

Regards

 

 

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On 6/11/2021 at 11:30 PM, Jeff58 said:


There is some amount of uncleared thinking on ball aerodynamics, and to some extent that should be expected. I will attempt to explain, and apologize in advance if it isn’t clear.

 

A golf ball is an aerodynamic structure, as is an airplane. They have a source of propulsion, either their engine or you. They have a source of lift, either their wings (mostly), or their dimple pattern. A big/heavy/slow airplane needs a larger wing to provide more lift, even though a larger wing creates more drag. Golf balls, on the other hand, are all the same size and weight, and a sphere is not at all an optimal aerodynamic structure. The one thing that a golf ball has that an airplane wing doesn’t have is spin. More spin, for a given dimple pattern, is the same as a larger wing, it creates more lift.


If you’ve followed so far, what we should understand is that a ball that spins less needs a bigger “wing” than one that spins more to achieve the same optimal aerodynamic performance.

 

In terms of both the OP and your post, when your “airplane” is traveling more slowly than optimal, a bigger wing will help keep you from crashing into the ground, and is therefore more “forgiving”.

Conversely, your larger winged airplane, or a ball that is relying on a more aggressive dimple pattern because it spins less, will *by definition* be more reactive to any any source of lift, be that wind, a non-zero spin axis (side spin), change in launch angle, or ball speed. It has to, it’s a bigger wing...

 

I'm not sure I got all of that but let me ask you a few questions since you seem to have some expertise on the subject.

 

Firstly let me say I understand there is no such thing as sidespin. Launch monitors use "sidespin" to describe how much the ball is hit off axis and the ss number is more useful/descriptive to the player than telling him/her they hit it 5.35* off axis.

 

True or False - the ratio of backspin to "sidespin" (off axis) determines how much or how little the ball will curve at the same ball speed.

 

i.e. a wedge (back)spinning at 8000 rpm with "sidespin" of 1000 (8:1) will curve far less than a driver with backspin of 2400 and sidespin of the same 1000 (2.4:1).

 

Therefore, if a high spin ball is hit at a ball speed of say 100mph with the above 8000/1000 and a low spin ball is hit with the same wedge 7000/1000 (same BS) won't the lower spin ball curve less ?

 

Or do you think that because the 2nd ball spins less that the exact same strike with the lower spin ball would not only produce 1000 rpm less back spin but it would also reduce sidespin by roughly the same amount thereby giving the same ratio and same curvature ?

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, rwbloom93 said:

The quote above is what I believe could be happening....and I would note I mostly see the forgiveness on the irons (but sometimes FW's) on toe center mishits either low or high on the face.  

 

For faster swing speeds the firmer balls open up a pretty decent ball speed gap with the "softer" balls, but as swing speed decreases the ball speed difference starts to equalize. For example, the two robot tests do show lower compression balls have improved ball speed vs firmer balls as swing speed gets lower, especially at and under 85 mph. Also note, mid irons are generally swung at 80% of driver SS and wedges around 75%. So a driver 85 mph SS is generally 68 mph with a 7iron.  GolfSpyMY showed 3 of the 4 fastest balls were lower compression ball for the 7iron. Today's golfer robot had the Chrome Soft and Srixon AD333 as two of the fastest balls at 80mph 7 iron speeds.

 

Couple the faster ball speed with lower spin and it's easy to understand why "softer" balls can outperform distance wise for the average golfer...either pure strike or slight mishit. 

 

Munichop makes an interesting comment about dimple patterns, I suppose that could be a key factor also.

 

Regards

To me, the soft balls have many drawbacks but one often overlooked benefit is the dimple pattern and flight trajectory of these balls.  As mentioned, I feel like they fly higher off the irons and at least where I play the stopping power is about the same.  The difference in spin on a full iron shot between balls (excluding the very cheap, pure distance balls) is not that much.  Probably the difference in hitting one club more +/-.  So yes you come in with less spin but I don't know many situations where your 8-iron ProV1 stops next to the hole and your 7-iron ProV1 bounces over the green.  And part of the lower spin is negated by a higher flight/descent angle.  When I play with ProVs or some other tour ball, part of my issue is that the flight with my irons never looks right (to me).  Often, this results in trying to hit it harder/higher which never works.  I guess I could get over this if I just accepted the different trajectory...

 

I don't doubt the firmer ball is faster/longer all else the same but I cannot tell on the course and have never tested different balls with a launch monitor trying to control for strike, etc.

 

All that being said, I don't think there is some minimum ss required for ProVs.  The ball is played a ton on the LPGA tour with many players somewhere in the 90s mph with driver.  Many high level juniors play these balls too.

 

People talk about marketing hype but I would argue some of these same people have been bamboozled by the Titleist Prov1 start backwards from the green marketing!  People that get up and down 25%-35% of the time (rough range for mid-handicap golfers) do not have control over the ball on short game shots despite what they say.  Every now and then they hit a pro like zipper and think they are Spieth/Phil.  What they don't acknowledge if the 65%-75% of the shots where the contact is crap or the ball does nothing that they expect it to (check up too fast).  The proof is in the numbers.  If they had control over the ball they'd get up and down a lot more than what they actually do.  Less spin has limitations just like a GI iron or hybrid has limitations compared to a blade iron.  But limitations doesn't mean it's worse for you if you don't have the skill to control/use the more advanced tool.  Few people have an honest assessment of themselves here.

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To @nsxguy

 

Firstly let me say I understand there is no such thing as sidespin. Launch monitors use "sidespin" to describe how much the ball is hit off axis and the ss number is more useful/descriptive to the player than telling him/her they hit it 5.35* off axis.

 

A perfectly circular sphere can only have one spin axis. It has a single spin rate. It can’t wobble or tumble in the classic sense, like a dumbbell can for instance. If a ball’s spin axis isn’t aligned with the direction of launch, it has an angular component. There are not two spins competing with each other. 

Converting this angle into “side spin” removes the underlying reality, which is unfortunate. As you correctly say though, the reason this number is used is because giving a angular deviation from ideal is worthless to the typical golfer.

 

True or False - the ratio of backspin to "sidespin" (off axis) determines how much or how little the ball will curve at the same ball speed.

 

True, though again there is no ratio. The greater the angle, all else being equal, the greater the degree of lift (or curvature).

 

i.e. a wedge (back)spinning at 8000 rpm with "sidespin" of 1000 (8:1) will curve far less than a driver with backspin of 2400 and sidespin of the same 1000 (2.4:1).

 

The question is confusing, so the answer may be as well.

 

Rule - at a given angle, both higher speed and higher spin create more lift, and therefore more curvature.

 

Your wedge is spinning more, but not going as fast.

Your driver is spinning less, but traveling much faster.

 

If the angular deviation is the same (which it kind of doesn’t in your example), the induced arc angle will likely be greater for the wedge, but the total distance from the intended target will be greater because the ball is in the air far longer for the driver.

 

 Therefore, if a high spin ball is hit at a ball speed of say 100mph with the above 8000/1000 and a low spin ball is hit with the same wedge 7000/1000 (same BS) won't the lower spin ball curve less ?

 

Yes, but as discussed above, there is no ratio. For a given axis angle, the singular spin rate is what determines “the size of the wing”. The faster spinning ball is therefore creating more lift and drag, and will have greater curvature, all else being equal.

 

Or do you think that because the 2nd ball spins less that the exact same strike with the lower spin ball would not only produce 1000 rpm less back spin but it would also reduce sidespin by roughly the same amount thereby giving the same ratio and same curvature ?

 

Less spin will always create less lift, and less curvature, all else being equal. The additional overall spin will merely create a higher trajectory and less distance as well as additional curvature. It can’t create a more “biased” spin or stable flight.

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7 hours ago, agolf1 said:

To me, the soft balls have many drawbacks but one often overlooked benefit is the dimple pattern and flight trajectory of these balls.  As mentioned, I feel like they fly higher off the irons and at least where I play the stopping power is about the same.  The difference in spin on a full iron shot between balls (excluding the very cheap, pure distance balls) is not that much.  Probably the difference in hitting one club more +/-.  So yes you come in with less spin but I don't know many situations where your 8-iron ProV1 stops next to the hole and your 7-iron ProV1 bounces over the green.  And part of the lower spin is negated by a higher flight/descent angle.  When I play with ProVs or some other tour ball, part of my issue is that the flight with my irons never looks right (to me).  Often, this results in trying to hit it harder/higher which never works.  I guess I could get over this if I just accepted the different trajectory...

There are few if any balls with a higher trajectory than the Pro V1x (not Pro V1). That is your best bet for a Tour ball if you want the ball to fly high. 

 

The 2021 Pro V1 has a slightly higher flight than earlier models of Pro V1. Up through 2019 the Pro V1 was one of the lower flying (Titleist describe it as a "boring" flight) of the Tour balls. That's not a high versus low compression thing, it is an intentionally lower flight by design.

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On 6/11/2021 at 9:20 PM, North Butte said:

Maybe claim low compression balls don’t lip out as often on putts?

 

My last two rounds with Q Star Tours would prove that to be false.

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18 hours ago, agolf1 said:

To me, the soft balls have many drawbacks but one often overlooked benefit is the dimple pattern and flight trajectory of these balls.  As mentioned, I feel like they fly higher off the irons and at least where I play the stopping power is about the same.  The difference in spin on a full iron shot between balls (excluding the very cheap, pure distance balls) is not that much.  Probably the difference in hitting one club more +/-.  So yes you come in with less spin but I don't know many situations where your 8-iron ProV1 stops next to the hole and your 7-iron ProV1 bounces over the green.  And part of the lower spin is negated by a higher flight/descent angle.  When I play with ProVs or some other tour ball, part of my issue is that the flight with my irons never looks right (to me).  Often, this results in trying to hit it harder/higher which never works.  I guess I could get over this if I just accepted the different trajectory...

 

I don't doubt the firmer ball is faster/longer all else the same but I cannot tell on the course and have never tested different balls with a launch monitor trying to control for strike, etc.

 

All that being said, I don't think there is some minimum ss required for ProVs.  The ball is played a ton on the LPGA tour with many players somewhere in the 90s mph with driver.  Many high level juniors play these balls too.

 

People talk about marketing hype but I would argue some of these same people have been bamboozled by the Titleist Prov1 start backwards from the green marketing!  People that get up and down 25%-35% of the time (rough range for mid-handicap golfers) do not have control over the ball on short game shots despite what they say.  Every now and then they hit a pro like zipper and think they are Spieth/Phil.  What they don't acknowledge if the 65%-75% of the shots where the contact is crap or the ball does nothing that they expect it to (check up too fast).  The proof is in the numbers.  If they had control over the ball they'd get up and down a lot more than what they actually do.  Less spin has limitations just like a GI iron or hybrid has limitations compared to a blade iron.  But limitations doesn't mean it's worse for you if you don't have the skill to control/use the more advanced tool.  Few people have an honest assessment of themselves here.

 

I don't think the idea of choosing your golf ball from the green backwards is anything specific to Titleist; pretty much everybody that deals with "fitting" golf balls advocates some version of that, if only because the distances off driver now so similar across the spectrum of balls, while the differences in spin show up closer to the green.

 

There is a pretty constant drumbeat on these threads about less-skilled golfers not being able to control spin, with the conclusion being that they either don't benefit from spin OR that they are somehow better off with a ball that spins less.  The implied comparison, of course, is to highly skilled players or Tour pros who hit the "hop and stop" pitch shots, and spin wedges back to the hole and so on.  Not only is that not a good comparison for the rest of us, but it misunderstands the role of spin completely.

 

We've all hit fliers out of light rough or wet grass, and watched the ball "knuckle" thru the air and fly an unexpectedly long carry distance, even if online.  The reason, of course, is the reduction of spin, regardless of the player hitting that shot.  A ball that spins less is harder to control; there is just no way around that, and it doesn't matter if you can't hit hop-and-stop pitches or spin a wedge back to the hole.  It's silly at best to argue otherwise.  If you aren't very good, you need MORE help, not less, and spin helps.  It just does, and it's silly to argue otherwise.

 

The most important thing about choosing a golf ball remains, as it has always been, to play the same ball all the time.  But beyond that, the choice, simply put, is to decide how much spin you want to pay for around the green.  If you don't want to pay much, there are PLENTY of inexpensive golf balls that will do just fine.  But don't get confused about what you are doing, and don't construct a weird argument involving Tour pros vs. chops (and their inability to control spin) that to justify your choice.

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Even when I had clubhead  speed I struggled getting urethane balls to launch high enough, until I played the e5. Then Bridgestone stopped making it. I went to the low compression Rx for awhile but discovered the gamer soft. My unicorn ball. They stopped making it. Along the way to replace it I have found golf to be more satisfying tee to green with lower compression surlyn balls. Mainly they launch higher and feel better off the face of my clubs, which for me has translated into more ball striking confidence. I have adjusted my short game to their limited spin and my scrambling is still very good. The curving side to side of the ball is for me more tied to the dimples and layers more than the compression. But you only find this out on the course, same with fliers.

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1 hour ago, bluedot said:

 

I don't think the idea of choosing your golf ball from the green backwards is anything specific to Titleist; pretty much everybody that deals with "fitting" golf balls advocates some version of that, if only because the distances off driver now so similar across the spectrum of balls, while the differences in spin show up closer to the green.

 

There is a pretty constant drumbeat on these threads about less-skilled golfers not being able to control spin, with the conclusion being that they either don't benefit from spin OR that they are somehow better off with a ball that spins less.  The implied comparison, of course, is to highly skilled players or Tour pros who hit the "hop and stop" pitch shots, and spin wedges back to the hole and so on.  Not only is that not a good comparison for the rest of us, but it misunderstands the role of spin completely.

 

We've all hit fliers out of light rough or wet grass, and watched the ball "knuckle" thru the air and fly an unexpectedly long carry distance, even if online.  The reason, of course, is the reduction of spin, regardless of the player hitting that shot.  A ball that spins less is harder to control; there is just no way around that, and it doesn't matter if you can't hit hop-and-stop pitches or spin a wedge back to the hole.  It's silly at best to argue otherwise.  If you aren't very good, you need MORE help, not less, and spin helps.  It just does, and it's silly to argue otherwise.

 

The most important thing about choosing a golf ball remains, as it has always been, to play the same ball all the time.  But beyond that, the choice, simply put, is to decide how much spin you want to pay for around the green.  If you don't want to pay much, there are PLENTY of inexpensive golf balls that will do just fine.  But don't get confused about what you are doing, and don't construct a weird argument involving Tour pros vs. chops (and their inability to control spin) that to justify your choice.

If I play an MB and a ProV1 and the 6-iron spins/flies exactly like a Ping G series and a supersoft 7-iron (assume the (edit) numbered lofts are the same), what's the difference?  All that matters is that my bag gaps correctly.  Also, my 7-iron supersoft may spin more than someone with a lower clubhead speed and many of these people can play the game just fine.  Or even when I play with my MBs and ProV1s if I play a 3/4 shot it spins less.  No problem controlling those.

 

Also, I a flier is when there is less spin than you would expect, hence it goes farther.  I have never seen anything that the variance in spin rates from shot to shot is different across cover types.  Just that surlyn spins less than urethane.  Possible that it happens every now and then if the non-urethane slides up the face (doesn't grab).

 

Again, spin is not helpful on greenside shots if you can't control it.  It's why people (even with a urethane) play a bump and run if there's no need to play a more complicated shot.  Sometimes with a non-urethane you have no hope, and you definitely give up shots in these situations.  But if you can control one basic shot (pitch and let it run) that can be more effective than trying to play all the different shots you see on TV.

 

Also, if MORE SPIN was always better, why wasn't the K3 (Kirkland) the most popular ball?  It spins WAY WAY more than other tour balls (relatively speaking) but yet I've heard people say it spins TOO MUCH.  Care to explain that one?

 

Completely agree that the driver now is a wash (big difference from 20-30 years ago).  Short game there is still a big difference and you need to adjust/accept limitations.  But you need to be able to control the spin or it's of no benefit over the long-run (other than the ego shots where you can feel like a pro). Full swing irons there is just not much of a difference.

Edited by agolf1
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On 6/11/2021 at 6:43 PM, Haig said:

I’ve heard the claims that softer lower compression balls are more forgiving on mis-hits or when you don’t catch the sweet spot but is there really any truth to that?

 

So Mr. Haig, ain't ya glad ya asked ? :classic_laugh:

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See, I'd always been old the opposite:  when I was getting back into golf a few years ago, the guy at the golf shop told me (probably bro science, but it sounded good at the time) that softer/lower compression balls deform more, and therefore, have more spin placed on them.  In other words, mis-hits will be worse because the spin is exaggerated.  Instead of the Bridgestone e6 Softs that I had been buying, he set me up with a box of e6 Speeds, which I used until just a few days ago (when I ran out).

What's In The Bag?

Srixon Z565 Driver, 4W, 4H

Ping G400 5-U

Kirkland Sig Wedges

Odyssey White Hot Putter

Hyundai Equus Alignment Sticks

KSig balls for now - in search of something new

 

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