A few weeks ago, we asked you to take our annual golf ball survey. We asked you about your preferences, buying habits and how likely you are to recommend brands to your friends. Your feedback helps us better understand your perceptions as well as trends in the market.
More than 10,00 (10,680) of you completed our survey. Here are some of the more interesting results.
What Are Your Golf Buying Habits?
We know from the survey that the majority of our readers play between 26 and 55 rounds of golf annually (26-40 was listed most often). What does that rate of play translate to as far as golf ball purchases are concerned?
- The highest percentage of you buy five to six dozen balls annually.
- Perhaps this is why when brands give away “a year’s supply of golf balls”, it’s typically six dozen.
- I’d wager that those of you buying fewer than four dozen balls are playing a bit less, while I’m envious of those of you who play enough golf to need at least seven dozen (though I’ve had weekends where I’ve gone through nearly that many).
We know how many balls you’re buying so now let’s take a look at what you’re buying.
- A significant majority of you (85 percent) play golf balls with urethane covers.
- Fewer than 13 percent of you are playing ionomer. I love you guys.
- Across the entirety of the market, urethane accounts for roughly 55 to 60 percent of golf ball purchases.
It should be noted that non-traditional golf outlets like Walmart and Amazon aren’t included in the market data so it’s certainly possible that inexpensive (cheap) ionomer over-indexes outside of traditional golf retail.
In addition to asking about how many balls you buy each year, we also asked where you buy them.
- Direct over the internet and big-box account for more than half of your golf ball purchases.
- Online golf specialty retailers account for just shy of 17 percent while Amazon accounts for another five percent.
- Green grass appears to be dipping in popularity which may benefit challenger brands who have been locked out of on-course shops because of exclusive deals.
First, if you’re paying more than $50 for a dozen balls, you’re probably doing it wrong. If you’re paying less than $20, you’re probably also doing it wrong.
- Given the prevalence of urethane among survey takers, $40-$50 for your golf balls is reasonable.
- The majority of you report spending $30-$40 per dozen.
- $30-$40 is common for DTC brands and bulk pricing from traditional OEMs.
- There are some excellent bulk DTC deals to be had below $30 as well (when inventory allows).
Using six dozen a year as a benchmark, it may be worth pointing out that the total cost difference between a premium offering and sub-$30 discount ball is less than $100 a year. I understand that, for some, that extra $100 means another couple of rounds but the larger point is that cheap balls really aren’t that much cheaper.
What Influences Your Purchasing Decision?
It’s not terribly surprising that Brand Reputation leads the way in our weighted averages, followed closely by price and our own Ball Lab (that’s kind of exciting). We’d wager that Tour Use is more of a factor for the golfing population as a whole than it is for the MyGolfspy reader. Looking more deeply at the details:
- Brand Reputation was selected as the most important factor by nearly 30% of you.
- Less than 4% of you said Tour Use was the most important factor (only another 7% ranked it #2).
- Color/Pattern options was chosen in the Top 3 more than 20% of the time. It’s not a major factor, but it suggests golfers want options.
- MyGolfSpy Ball Lab was listed as the most important factor for 23% of you and was listed in the Top 3 for 66% of respondents (the same as Brand Reputation and Price).
What Are You Looking For in a Golf Ball?
Using the weighted average as the metric, the results are more or less what I’d expect (and want) to see. The devil is again in the details.
- While Feel ranks third under the weighted average, it was actually selected as the most important attribute by the highest percentage (26%) of you. You’re killing me. Frankly, I love some of you a bit less.
- Notably, Feel was ranked fourth in importance (ahead of only Forgiveness) by 22 percent of you. To me, this suggests that either you really care about feel or you don’t care much at all.
- Driver Distance was a top-3 selection for nearly 70 percent of respondents.
- Forgiveness was rated least important by more than 40 percent of you.
- Greenside Spin is a surprise No. 4. It’s the one attribute nearly every golfer I talk to about balls tells me they want more of. Perhaps golfers just want other things a bit more.
Does Golf Ball Color Matter?
- More than 16 percent of you report playing a yellow ball most often.
- Just under four percent of you use one of a growing number of patterned balls that are on the market.
- If you’re not making some sort of patterned balls (Titleist, Bridgestone and Srixon), you’re conceding share to your competitors.
What Are Your Preferred Golf Ball Brands?
- Given Titleist’s position as The #1 Ball in Golf, we’d expect to see it top the chart so it’s almost expected that 75 percent of you would report having played a Titleist ball at some point in the last year.
- TaylorMade is a surprise (to me) at No. 2 (I’d have guessed Bridgestone), suggesting it has cemented its position as a serious player in the ball market, especially within the urethane category.
- Among the DTC brands, Snell is the most popular with Vice and the Costco Kirkland brand about five percentage points behind.
- Titleist isn’t a surprise (again) as the most preferred ball.
- Bridgestone and TaylorMade are only tenths of percentage points apart at just under 12 percent.
- Snell was the leader among DTC brands and was selected fourth most often overall.
For this question, we asked how likely you were to recommend each of the brands listed. The chart shows the weighted average of your responses. A higher score means golfers report being more likely to recommend the brand to a friend or colleague.
The interesting tidbits are in the details behind the data:
- Fifty-one percent of you said you were Extremely Likely to recommend Titleist. Another 34 percent said they were Likely to recommend the Titleist brand. Only two percent said you were highly unlikely to do so.
- Bridgestone (22%) and TaylorMade (21%) were second and third on the list of balls that you were Extremely Likely to recommend.
- Golfers said they were Highly Unlikely and Extremely Likely to recommend Callaway at approximately the same rate (+/- 10%)
- Golfers said they were Extremely Likely to recommend Snell at nearly three times (18%) the rate of its nearest DTC competitor (Vice 6.5%).
- OnCore was the brand golfers said they were Highly Unlikely to recommend most often (32%). Whether that’s lack of familiarity, a performance metric or blowback from Wayne Player’s stunt at the Masters isn’t clear.
Finally, we took a more detailed look at your recommendations, this time asking not how likely you are to recommend each brand but rather how likely (on a scale of 1 to 10) you are to recommend your preferred ball. It’s what’s known as a Net Promoter Score.
To build this chart, we cross-referenced the answers you gave when we asked you to tell us your preferred golf ball brand. It’s definitely the nerd in me speaking but I find the results fascinating.
Generally speaking, the DTC brands included in the survey have the highest NPS, the highest percentage of promoters (rated 9-10) and the lowest percentage of both passives (rated 7-8) and detractors (rated 0-6).
- OnCore was listed as the preferred brand the fewest of any brand in the chart but it has the highest NPS (77) of any brand in the survey.
- Snell (76) was second overall and has the smallest percentage of detractors (2%) of any brand in the survey.
- Vice (68) wasn’t far behind with only three percent of you qualifying as detractors.
This suggests that while fewer of you list these DTC brands as the maker of your preferred ball, those of you who do are fiercely loyal and don’t hesitate to recommend them to your friends (or colleagues).
Among the traditional golf brands:
- Titleist had the highest overall NPS (60), the highest percentage of promoters (67%) and the smallest percentage of Passives (7-8), suggesting there’s little in the way of ambivalence about the brand.
- Bridgestone edged out TaylorMade with more promoters, fewer detractors and an overall higher Net Promoter Score.
- Srixon’s overall Net Promoter Score trails the leaders. However, it has the fewest detractors (7%) of any traditional manufacturer in the survey.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you have any additional feedback? Was there anything that surprised you? Let us know in the comment section below.