A Tool For All Golfers
MyGolfSpy has a mantra. “Power to the Player”.
And, the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Through consumer education, we make it our mission to help golfers navigate an immense, expensive and oftentimes misleading market of golf equipment.
Each individual golfer is unique, but the common denominator all golfers have in common is that they each use a golf ball. And like every other aspect of the equipment market, golf ball offerings are vast and vary widely in a number of metrics.
MyGolfSpy is launching a new tool to help golfers determine which golf balls are the best on the market.
MyGolfSpy Ball Lab: The Genesis of The Comparison Tool
This quality comparison tool is meant to be utilized by golfers of all abilities and familiarities with equipment. In order to make it simple for you, our resident golf ball nerd Tony Covey has been methodically measuring and classifying golf ball quality for more than a year.
You might have seen the first dividends of his work in MyGolfSpy Ball Lab.
So why did we do this?
Over the course of our golf ball performance test, it became abundantly clear that some models were significantly more consistent than others. The best balls landed in roughly the same spot time and time again, while the worst balls produced inconsistent distance and flew wildly offline. Tony wanted to learn why and see if there was a way to correlate what we saw during our robot test with data collected in a lab environment.
After months of conversations with R&D teams across the industry and hours on the phone with Harvey Glantz (the man who holds the patent on our compression gauge which is used in ball factories around the world), and more than $10K in equipment (plus $5K and counting in golf balls) Ball Lab became a reality.
While Ball Lab takes a methodical one ball at a time approach, we know that’s not how you buy balls. You want to know how one ball stacks up against every other. The Ball Lab Comparison Tool allows you to see just that.
The comparison tool is a major step that gives you the power to harness Ball Lab data.
Why Quality Matters
We’re often asked why quality matters. Many golfers believe they’re incapable of noticing the difference between a good ball and a bad one. As Tony is fond of saying, “even if you’re not good enough to tell the difference, you’re good enough to appreciate it”. What that means is that whether you’re aware of it not, inconsistencies in the golf ball can manifest as subtle as a shot that’s a few extra yards from the hole or, in the most extreme of cases, can be the difference between the middle of the fairway and the wrong side of the white stakes.
Golf is inherently a game of variables, your golf ball shouldn’t be one of them, and yet too often golfers assume that the ball is an inconsequential part of the equation.
Said another way, if you play an inconsistent golf ball or play whatever ball you happen to pull out of your bag, what you’re doing isn’t wildly different than randomly adjusting the loft and lie angles on every club in your bag every time you put a new ball into play. Most golfers understand that the clubs in your bag contribute to the speed, launch, and spin of a golf shot. The same is true for the golf ball.
Quality and consistency absolutely matter.
Understanding the Comparison Tool
If you’re no stranger to Ball Lab, some of what you’ll see in the comparison tool will look familiar. Ball Lab and the comparison tool have an unbreakable bond, so we’ll also show you some behind-the-scenes footage to help you understand how we gather the data that’s presented to you in the tool. Here’s a breakdown of all of the metrics used to determine the quality of a golf ball.
Remember, Ball Lab, and thus the Comparison Tool, rank balls based on quality control, not performance. We’re not arguing that both aren’t important, but if a ball lacks quality control, if it isn’t consistent, performance will be inconsistent as well.
The new score metric is an “out of 100” ranking or an overall grade. In simple terms, it represents a calculation of all metrics.
If you are familiar with Ball Lab, you’ll likely remember the “True Price” ranking. While we thought it was an interesting metric, it didn’t resonate with everyone. With the release of our golf ball comparison tool, we’ve done away with True Price.
Like True Price, the overall score is based on consistency across our key metrics and the ratio between “good” and “bad” balls.
Moving forward, the “out of 100” score will replace our True Price metric in all Ball Lab reviews.
% Good Balls
% Good Balls shows the percentage of balls in the sample that were free from a significant disqualifying defect. Think of it like this: If you purchased 100 golf balls, it’s the number you can reasonably expect to meet the basic quality standards of Ball Lab.
A ball can be flagged as bad for several reasons. Any ball that doesn’t meet the USGA standard is deemed “bad”. A ball can also be deemed bad if either of our compression metrics falls significantly outside the norm. Finally, a ball can be flagged as bad when there are significant defects identified during our visual inspection though in most cases, those closely correlate with anomalies in the gauge measurements.
It IS NOT a measure of the performance of a golf ball. When it comes to performance, there are few balls that are absolutely good or absolutely bad, it’s simply a matter how what segment of the market a given ball fits. Performance data will come, but Ball Lab is about quantifying the quality and consistency of the golf balls we test.
Compression most closely correlates with speed. A firmer ball is typically a faster ball. Softer balls are slower and often rely on low spin to offset distance lost to that lack of speed. While we rarely recommend soft golf balls for faster swing speed players. As your driver speed dips below 85, and especially below 80, ball speed differences are often minimal.
When we measure compression we’re looking at several factors. The total compression value allows us to quantify the relative hardness of the golf ball. We also look at how consistent the compression is from one ball to the next and for the 3-points we measure on each ball. When there is a wide variation in compression, not only will one ball perform differently from another, when there’s a wide gap across the 3-points measured, the performance of your ball can vary based on where you hit it.
We measure the diameter of each ball at 4-points (two locations on the seam, the pole, and a point in-between. Our diameter measurements serve several purposes. They give us insight into the relative size of the golf ball. Smaller balls tend to be longer (especially for faster players) while larger balls tend to be a little bit easier to hit in the air.
We use our diameter measurements to judge consistency across the sample. They also serve as the basis for the calculation that determines whether or not a ball is round…or at least round-enough.
As the second part of our diameter measurements, we leverage a custom-made 1.6800″ ring gauge to test each ball for conformance to the USGA’s minimum size rule.
It’s important to capture the weight of the golf ball for several reasons. First, we want to to know that every ball we test conforms to the USGA rule for the maximum weight (1.62 ounces). While it’s rare, we do occasionally find balls over the weight limit – and often in bunches.
Generally speaking, a heavier ball is a longer ball, so most manufacturers will target a weight value as close to the limit as they can consistently achieve.
As with our other metrics, the data we collect from our scale allows us to determine how consistent a given model is from one ball to the next.
Using the Comparison Tool
We’ve tried to make the initial release of the tools as simple as possible. In addition to Score and % Good Balls, we also provide you with our consistency metrics. The icons represent how consistent each model is for a given metric relative to the database as a whole.
- Dark Green = Excellent
- Green = Good
- Yellow = Average
- Orange = Fair
- Red = Poor
Not to jump too deep into the weeds, but ratings are based on standard deviations across the sample.
For example, a rating of Good for a given metric means the ball model was more than one standard deviation better than the database average. A rating of Poor means the ball was more than two standard deviations worse than the database average.
Filter Your Selections
We’ve provided the capability to narrow your selections. You can filter balls by Price, Year, Brand, Model, Cover Material and “Feel.”
Our Feel scale is based on total ball compression. Here’s the breakdown:
- X-Soft: 45 (measured compression points) and below
- Soft: 46-62
- Medium: 63-79
- Firm: 80-96
- X-Firm: 97-113
We’ve also provided the ability to sort the columns for Score and Good Ball% as well as our Compression, Diameter and Weight Consistency metrics.
As the database grows, we’ll look to add additional filtering capabilities.
Links to Reviews
Where applicable, we’ve added links to individual Ball Lab reviews. And, yes, for those of you looking to buy, we’ve added links for that as well.
Moving forward, not every ball we measure will be featured in a full Ball Lab review but every ball we test will be added to the golf ball comparison tool.
More To Come
As our ball comparison tool evolves, it will become the hub of our golf ball review and ranking process. Eventually, we plan to add performance data and additional points of comparison.
Let us know what else you’d like to see.
For more information on our process, visit our How We Test page.