Pro Shop: What ball should I play?

IMG_0497BE HONEST NOW. How far do you really drive the ball? On average PGA Tour pros hit the ball between 280 yards to 320 yards and LPGA Tour pros hit their drives from 230 yards to 270 yards. Club golfers, according to Golf Digest magazine, average between 195 yards to 205 yards with their driver. So what sort of golf ball should we be hitting to maximise distance?

Royal Ashdown head pro, Tim Cowley, says, ‘The vast majority of club golfers simply do not have fast enough swings to warrant spending more money on a premium golf ball. A lower compression ball such as the Titleist NXT would be perfect in many cases. And cheaper.’

The Srixon Z star, the company’s premium ball, is said by the manufacturers to suit golfers with swing speeds of just below 90 mph up to 108 mph which is still faster than the vast majority of mid to high handicappers. Tiger Woods’s average swing speed with a driver is 125 mph by the way.

Despite what many manufacturers say, and clearly they want as many of us to spend as much as we possibly can on their product, the evidence does not support the need for the majority of golfers to play the most expensive, and invariably most tightly compressed, golf ball.

What we should all be doing is playing the same make of ball each time that we play. Tim Cowley says, ‘Whenever any member of the pro-shop team goes out to practice chipping and putting we always play the same balls in our practice bag and use them every time we go out.’

Contrast this with the usual experience of those of us who are out playing a friendly round and one of us loses a ball. Invariably an entirely different make is pulled out of the golf bag and anything halfway decent found amongst the heather and long grass goes straight into the bag to be used at a later date.

‘It’s amazing,’ says Cowley, ‘when I see players practising their putting and using different balls because they will feel completely different coming off the face of the putter. And the same goes for players are trying out a new putter, it is crucial to play the same make of ball.’

Ball manufacturers will have us believe that it is important to play a firmer ball during the winter months because it will travel further due to a lower flight trajectory and less spin. But the additional distance gained in reality is marginal. ‘It might go five yards further,’ says Cowley, ‘and how much is that going to change your game?’

So certainly try different makes of ball and find one that you like playing and then stick to it. Out on the course and when practising chips, pitches and putts. That way the quest for that elusive ‘feel’ might just get that little bit closer.

And given the number of shots most of us play on and around the greens compared to the number of drives we take, a reduction at the sharp end of things will almost certainly do our game far more good than an extra five yards off the tee box.

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