Beginner’s Guide to Golf Ball Compression: Core Knowledge


Selecting an optimal golf ball based on its compression rating is a nuanced but crucial aspect that can significantly influence your performance metrics, such as ball speed, distance, and in-game control. This guide is a follow-up to our previous article on the “Best Golf Balls for the Average Golfer,” designed to delve deeper into the science and practicalities of golf ball compression. From decoding compression ratings to tailored recommendations for various swing speeds, this guide offers a comprehensive resource for golfers looking to fine-tune their game. Ultimately, we’ll provide three recommendations each for low, mid, and high-compression balls.

What is Compression?

The Basics

At its core – pun intended, golf ball compression is fundamentally about the ball’s deformation upon the impact of a swing. But let’s not simplify it too much; the science behind it is fascinating. When you strike the ball, it compresses, and the energy stored during this brief compression phase propels the ball forward. Think of it as a mini physics experiment with every swing. The level of compression affects not only how far the ball will travel, its speed and the level of control you’ll have once it lands.

How to Measure Compression Rating

The Scale

Golf ball compression ratings are standardized on a scale from 30 to 120. These numbers aren’t arbitrary; they’re derived from rigorous testing that measures how much a ball deforms under a standard load. A lower rating indicates a softer ball with low compression, ideal for slower swing speeds. Conversely, a higher rating corresponds to a harder, high-compression ball suitable for faster swings. In layman’s terms, we’re talking about their compression ratings when we refer to “soft” or “hard” golf balls.

Compression and Swing Speed

Measuring Your Swing Speed

Measuring your swing speed is simpler than you may assume, and it’s not just for the pros. You can get a basic assessment at a local golf shop with club demos or employ the precision of a launch monitor. For an in-depth exploration of launch monitors, including how they capture metrics like ball speed, spin rate, and angle of attack, check out our comprehensive guide on the Best Launch Monitors of 2023.

For the Speed Demons

High-compression balls are your go-to if your swing speed is more Usain Bolt than a leisurely jog. These balls, like the Titleist Pro V1, are engineered to withstand the intense force of fast swings, ensuring optimal control and reduced spin off the tee. Above 105 MPH, and you should consider these options.

Titleist Pro-V1 Golf Balls
Taylor Made TP5 Golf Balls
callaway chrome soft 360 triple track 22 golf ball

The Middle Ground

For those with average swing speeds, you’ll benefit from our “Best Golf Balls for the Average Golfer,” where Mid-Compression balls are your golden ticket. These balls offer a balanced blend of distance and control. Between 85-105 MPH puts you in this range.

Bridgestone E12 Contact Golf Balls
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Titleist Tour Soft Golf Balls

Tips for Beginners

If you’re a beginner or have a high handicap, low-compression balls such as the Callaway Supersoft are your best bet. These balls are more forgiving and offer greater loft, gradually helping you improve your skills. If you are 85 MPH or below, or just starting out, look here.

callaway supersoft 23 suits golf ball
srixon soft feel 13 golf ball
wilson staff duo soft 23 golf ball

Key Takeaways

  • Golf ball compression refers to how much the ball deforms when hit. Lower compression ratings indicate softer balls that compress more on impact. Higher ratings mean more rigid, less compressible balls.
  • Measuring your swing speed helps determine ideal compression. Above 105 mph needs high compression for control. 85-105 mph suits mid compression for balance. Below 85 mph benefits from low compression for maximum distance.
  • High compression balls reduce driver spin and optimize control for faster swing speeds above 105 mph. Mid compression provides a blend of distance and control for average 85-105 mph swing speed. Low compression maximizes distance for beginners and slower swings below 85 mph.
  • Testing different compression balls is key to finding the right match for your swing speed and performance needs regarding distance, accuracy, spin, and feel.
  • Factors like swing speed, feel preference, budget, and short game performance should inform your choice more than price alone when selecting a golf ball.

Final Thoughts

Don’t fall into the trap of equating price with performance. A high-cost ball isn’t universally superior—it must align with your skill set and playing style. So, don’t hesitate to experiment; your perfect match might be a swing away. The key is to find a ball that complements your style and skill level. After all, the best endorsement is your own experience.

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