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Golf Balls: Types and construction

Golf balls are a pivotal piece of equipment that can substantially improve a golfer’s game while on the course. Based on the type, the best golf balls can be classified under – tour performance, tour value, straight distance, and soft distance. In simple terms, tour performance balls are constructed for scratch golfers, and tour value balls are made for low to mid-handicaps. Straight/soft distance is for high-handicap golfers. Balls can further be classified based on the number of layers, and balls could have two layers or four layers. Even the compression rate might be low or high with differing spin rates.

Understanding types of golf balls:

If you intend on obtaining high scores, the type of ball you play with is crucial. For instance, golfers with high skill sets can better control and optimize the distance out of any golf ball. In the case of golfers with average skills, the type of ball makes a profound impact. Golf balls have different numbers of layers and can differ in compression ratings, and certain balls offer more spin than others, while others could be softer.

If a golfer is in low handicap territory, then the type of ball you play is not very important. Depending on whether you want to play a tour ball that offers better control, you should be able to shape pretty much any ball. If your swing speed is fast enough, you should be able to compress the ball properly, and you can get a respectable distance out of anything. There is a reason why certain players use a ball with multiple layers as it decreases the chances of driver spin, and increase the wedge spin.

However, for average golfers who do not have solid golf shots, balls with the wrong compression rating impact the distance. Balls with higher spin rates and increased spin three fairways over. Certain balls do perform better for average players and they tend to be easier on the wallet. Tour balls are more expensive and they will not benefit all people. Average golfers are better off with distance and spin-control balls.

Types of golf balls:

Tour performance (3-5 layers): Usually the most expensive, these balls are best suited for low handicap and scratch golfers. Designed for optimal distance, feel, and spin, a faster swing speed will enhance your experience with these balls.

Tour value (3 layers) – Largely similar to tour performance balls, these balls differ by having a lower compression rating, less spin, and a low price tag. It is an excellent choice for budget-conscious golfers.

Straight distance (2-3 layers) – It has a large core and a thin outer layer. It is designed for maximum distance and they fly straighter. Being cheaper than tour balls, they don’t offer the best wedge spin.

Soft distance (2-3 layers) – They have a low compression rating, and it is purposely designed for golfers with slower swing speeds. In such a scenario, such golfers can get more distance and less side-to-side spin with these balls.

Golf balls with multiple layers allow golfers to deliver the best feel, spin, and distance. Additional layers will help better players with better swing speeds to get more spin with their wedges and less spin with their driver.

1-piece balls – It is used only at mini-golf courses and not on the range of the course. If you try using the course, they do not offer the distance at your shots and they will not last long.

2-piece balls – It is designed for beginners and high handicaps. Best suited for average golfers, it offers maximum distance and forgiveness. It has a large core and a thin outer layer.

3-piece balls – It features an additional layer which will add a short game spin to the ball. While you get better and enter the mid-handicap range, it will offer backspin on wedge shots to stop the ball.

4-piece balls – It is made for people who swing faster and have a high compression rating. These balls offer better spin and also feel firmer.

5-piece balls – Not very common, these balls offer even more compression than 4-piece balls and do not feel as firm as them.

Construction of golf balls –

Every golf ball is slightly different from the other, and this includes even the core materials and size. Even the outer layers or covers can vary depending on the type of ball.

The center core of the golf ball is made with solid synthetic rubber material, and this will determine the core size of the ball. Balls that travel longer distances have a larger core and will require less effort to compress the ball.

Golf balls with more than 2 layers have extra layers surrounding the core. These layers make the ball spin even more with the wedges and less with the driver. Constructed with synthetic rubber or plastic materials, the ball requires more layers to keep the driver spin rates down.

The cover of the golf ball can be made with different materials, some of the materials are firm and some are soft. The three main types of covers are urethane, surly, and ionomer.

Balls with urethane cover produce more spin and offer a softer feel. Found on professional balls this synthetic compound can however not be as durable as some other materials.

An ionomer is found on lower-grade golf balls, and it is constructed with polymer plastic materials and is more durable than urethane. Balls with ionomer do not spin as much as their urethane counterparts.

Surlyn is a type of ionomer found only on balls made by a company called DuPont. It is cheaper, spins less, and is a lot more durable.   

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