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  • Writer's pictureGene Parente

What is the Real Difference Between Golf Ball Types?

This review is going to answer a question that a lot of golfers have when they go to purchase golf balls: "What's the Difference Between Golf Balls?"

There are a lot of misconceptions and marketing hype around the performance of golf balls. With this test we will separate the hype from fact and provide you with data that will allow you to make a more informed choice the next time you purchase golf balls.

One of the common refrains from players is that they don't swing like the pros so they shouldn't purchase a Tour Grade golf ball. The other comment is that they don't compress the ball enough to see the benefits out of a Tour Grade ball.

The testing below will provide data that will highlight what the differences are and who benefits from one ball versus another.

Tour Grade Vs. Performance Grade

For this testing we chose two types of golf balls: Tour and Performance. The balls for this testing were both Titleist products but the overall performance characteristics can apply to different manufacturers that have balls in these two categories.

When defining these golf balls there are two construction items that are important to define the differences. One is the cover material and the other is the amount of pieces that define the balls construction usually ranging from 2 piece to 6 piece.

Pro V1

The Pro V1 is a urethane covered 3 piece golf ball. The urethane cover material is the construction material that defines most of the performance differences between it and the Tour Soft.

Tour Soft

The Tour Soft ball is made of ionomer/surlyn. The Tour Soft is a 2 piece construction. The cover and construction cause different launch and spin characteristics compared to a urethane golf ball. Surlyn covered golf balls have less spin on short irons then urethane covered balls.


The two golf balls were tested at the following:

Driver 110 mph (Average Tour Speed)

Driver 100 mph (Lower HDCP Speed)

Driver 90 mph (Average Player Speed)

6 Iron 90 mph (Lower HDCP Speed)

Full PW (Lower HDCP Speed)

½ PW (Lower HDCP Launch Conditions)

Driver 110 mph

The Pro V1 had a 1.7 mph greater ball velocity then the Tour Soft. It was also 4 yards longer in total roll then the Tour Soft.

Driver 100 mph

The Pro V1 had a .8 mph greater ball velocity then the Tour Soft at 100 mph. It was also 5 yards longer in total roll then the Tour Soft.

Driver 90 mph

The Pro V1 had a .3 mph greater ball velocity then the Tour Soft at 90 mph. It had a 4 yard longer rollout then the Tour Soft.

6 iron 90 mph

For the 6 iron the balls were almost identical performance wise with both balls traveling 170 yards with similar launch and flight performance.

Full PW

With the full pitching wedge testing the differences between the balls become apparent. The urethane cover of the Pro V1maximizes performance with the full wedge by lowering the launch angle and increasing the spin over the Tour Soft.

Tour players prefer their wedge shots to start out lower with higher spin to help cut through the wind better and land softly. These launch conditions are optimized with the Pro V1 urethane cover.

½ PW

The half wedge shot is the shot that most tour players use to decide which ball to play. They observe how the ball leaves the face, what its peak trajectory looks like and how the ball reacts when it hits the green.

For this test the Pro V1 once again had a lower launch and higher spin. It had an almost 5 degree lower launch and almost 2000 rpm more spin. These launch characteristics create the flight that tour players prefer starting low cutting through the wind and landing with increased spin to hold the green.


Overall the Pro V1 had slightly longer distance then the Tour Soft but the major advantage was in the short game shots in which it had a lower launch and higher spin.

Short game control is considered paramount for scoring potential. The Pro V1 urethane cover provides control and stopping ability on the green that the Tour Soft does not.

Golfers of all abilities can benefit from both the increase and distance and the short game control. While the players may not have the skill of those on the PGA Tour they can benefit from launch and spin that will create a flight closer to that seen on tour.

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