Which Golf Ball Is Best for Distance? The Complete Guide 2024?

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Can choosing the right golf ball actually improve the distance of your golf shot?

Yes, it can! The distance of a golf ball is determined by its construction, dimple design, core, and cover material. They all affect the speed, launch angle, and drag characteristics of your longest drive … or how far into the trees your ball goes!

So, there must be one golf ball that will give you the greatest distance?
No … there is one much more important factor which is revealed later on …

Quick Read

  • Choosing the right golf ball for distance is determined by the hardness (compression) of the core and the outside material which affects spin.
  • High compression = Harder golf ball = Longer distance for a Fast swing player.
  • Low compression = Softer golf ball = Longer distance for a SLow swing player (helped by low spin). The more backspin the ball has, the less total distance it will travel.
  • The most important factor is choosing the ball to match your own swing speed.

Factors Affecting Golf Ball Distance

What factors affect how far your drive will actually travel?

Golf Ball Construction

Golf balls can be made in 2, 3, 4, or even 5 pieces. A two-piece ball is best for distance, made simply with a rubber core and an outer layer.
So, choose a two-piece ball, then? Not so simple as a multi-layer ball might give you more control. Professional players will often play with a three-piece ball, such as the infamous Titleist Pro V1.

Core Compression & Swing Speed

Golf Ball compression is a measure of how much it deforms when hit. Although the golf ball feels extremely hard to touch, when hit by a club at over 80mph, it visibly changes shape.

Golf ball compression is measured on a scale from 30 to 120.
A Soft ball will have a compression rating of less than 70 and a hard ball a rating of 90 or over.

The core of the golf ball is made from rubber and can be soft or firm. When your club hits the ball, all the energy is stored in the core, which is then released to fire that golf ball forward.

Soft core – think of a trampoline as an extreme example of propelling that golf ball forward
Hard core – will compress less – think of hitting a golf ball with a baseball bat.

If you have a slow swing speed, you will get longer distance with a ‘trampoline’.
If you swing fast, you will get longer distance with a baseball bat.

If you play racquet sports, it is similar to a tennis racquet with tight strings – good for the advanced player who hits fast and hard but too hard for a beginner.

Mantle layers

The Mantle or Layers outside of the core were introduced in the 1990s to help control the amount of spin & control of a golf ball.
As golf balls are generally the same size & weight, having these extra layers means less rubber core and so, therefore, a little less distance.

Material and Cover – Spin Rate

In 2024, the cover of a golf ball is either Ionomer (Surlyn) for durability or Urethane for a soft feel and spin.

Being extremely thin – 0.05 inches, they don’t have much compression effect, but they do have an effect on the spin rate of a ball.

Every ball will have backspin when hit by the club. Two factors determine the amount of spin – the angle of the golf ball going forward relative to the ground (the launch angle) and the spin rate. With the same launch angle, a low-spinning ball will go further.

The spin rate is affected by the cover of the golf ball. The more ‘grip’ on the ball, the higher the spin.

Therefore, golf balls with an Ionomer cover have less ‘grip’; they create less spin and, therefore, give longer distances. They are also cheaper!

Dimples and Aerodynamics

Now the golf ball is finally in the air, the final factor for greater distance is the Dimple!

Why aren’t golf balls nice & smooth? Surely a smooth surface will fly the furthest? In fact, the first golf balls were made from leather before the smooth Gutta Percha ball was made in 1848 from the heated, then shaped gum of a Malaysian Sapodilla tree! It was only when these balls were scuffed with tiny marks that it was noticed they actually traveled further! Hand-hammered balls were then introduced in the 1860s.

Golf balls now create their unique appearance by having dimples. Between 300 and 400 dimples on each ball! The amount, the pattern, and also the depth of these dimples can reduce the wind resistance (or drag) of the ball as it flies through the air.

Top Golf Balls for Distance

So now you know the factors that affect the distance of a golf ball, which one is the best?

What is your Swing Speed?

The most important factor in finding the right distance golf ball for YOU is YOUR swing speed.
Measure yours at a driving range or indoor simulator with a driver.

Slow Swing Speed (below 85mph)

If you are a beginner, or even a senior who doesn’t swing the club as fast as others, to get those longer drives, you need a ball which is soft, has two layers and an Inomer cover. This will travel further with less backspin (and less sidespin too in case your ball doesn’t fly straight either!).

Recommended Balls for Players with a Slow Swing Speed:

  • Callaway Supersoft
  • Wilson Duo Soft+
  • Vice Pro Plus

Faster Swing Speed (above 105mph)

If you have a faster, straighter swing, you can should look at balls with a harder core, and three layers with a Urethane cover to give you both distance, spin and control.

Recommended balls for Players with a Fast Swing Speed

  • Titleist Pro V1 X (compression 100)
  • Mizuno RB Tour X (compression 110)
  • Kirkland Signature (compression 90 is a good budget choice but check if it spins too much for you)

Frequently Asked Questions

Which golf ball for a slow swing (below 85mph)?

A ‘soft’ low compression ball with low spin. Have a look at the Callaway Supersoft and Wilson Duo, which have compression ratings of less than 40. These also have ‘ionomer’ outer covers with a low spin. A low spin for a slow swing is good – especially if you are a beginner (less slice!).

Which golf ball for a fast swing (above 105mph) ?

A high compression golf ball with a rating of over 90 will give longer distances for a fast swing.
Titleist Pro V1 X and Mizuno RB Tour X are good options.

How do I know what my Swing Speed is?

Swing speed is always measured using your driver. The most accurate way is to go to a driving range or indoor simulator with either Trackman or TopTracer. They will give you your ‘club’ speed ( don’t confuse it with ball speed, which is normally 20% higher due to the golf ball deforming when hit and the ‘bounce’ effect propelling it forward faster ā€” the compression of a golf ball).

What is Golf Ball compression?

Although golf balls feel extremely hard, their inner core deforms or compresses when hit by a fast golf club. Their compression rating ranges from 30 to 120.

Does the color of a golf ball affect the distance?

No. Any differences found will be the result of production batches. Feel free to use the orange or yellow ball which is easy to find and so fewer lost balls – especially when playing in the snow!

Lastly, can a golf ball really improve my distance?

Using the driver with a slow swing, there could be a difference from 184 to 195 yards.

Using the driver with a fast swing could be a difference from 299 to 317 yards.

As you can see, the ball makes a difference but the main difference is the speed of your swing!
Have a look here at all the data from MyGolfSpy.

And finally … here’s my end-of-page funny golf ball video!

Don’t buy these golf balls – they don’t go very far!
Geoff - everything golf cart

Iā€™m Geoff ā€“ Short Game ‘Expert’ and Golf Coach.
(only because I play 9-hole 4 times a week, and I love passing on my favorite Pete Cowen tips to friends & family)
My most memorable golf experience ā€“ racing through the streets of Hong Kong in a golf cart to catch the next ferry!