As we mentioned at the start of our 2023 Golf Ball Test report, the golf ball matters.
It’s the only piece of equipment you use on every shot and that could make it the single most important piece of equipment in your bag.
That said, it’s not lost on us that differences in golf ball performance can sometimes be difficult to discern. Given the challenges of deciphering ball performance in normal conditions, we don’t imagine many golfers have given much thought to how performance changes when moisture is introduced into the equation.
No worries. We’ve got you covered.
As part of our 2023 Golf Ball Test, we had the opportunity to compare golf ball performance on full wedge shots in dry and wet conditions.
The results may cause you to rethink your golf ball choice.
Table of Contents
Below you’ll find we’ve broken this article into sections. Feel free to skip ahead or scroll on to learn more about that test, methodology and key findings.
- 2023 Ball Testing Overview
- Key Findings
- Dry Spin Results
- Wet Spin Results
- Wet vs. Dry Spin Rates
- About the Pro V1 Yellow
- Test Data
Testing for the wet/dry wedge portion of the 2023 Ball Test was conducted with the Cool Clubs team at SunRidge Canyon Golf Club in Fountain Hills, Ariz.
About the Golf Ball Models Tested
The balls tested include retail urethane offerings from major manufacturers and a mix of smaller direct-to-consumer (DTC) and house brands. We also tested a few popular two-piece ionomer offerings.
When possible, MyGolfSpy purchased the balls we tested at retail and from multiple shops. Exceptions include the Not Your Ball and Inesis Tour 900 Prototype.
The wet/dry portion of the test was conducted indoors. As such, environmental conditions were not a significant factor in the results.
For this portion of our test, the robot hit a series of shots with each model in a dry condition. A second series was hit in which balls were sprayed with water. Every effort was made to be consistent with the application of water.
Shots were hit with 56-degree Vokey SM9 wedge.
As with the full test, outliers were removed using the 1.5 IQR rule. Outliers for the wet/dry wedge test were filtered based on launch angle and spin rates.
Water Changes Things
When moisture was applied to the cover, every ball in the test launched higher and produced lower spin rates.
It’s reasonable to surmise that differences in wet/dry performance are related to friction lost when moisture is added.
As loft decreases and friction becomes a lesser part of the equation, we would expect the differences to be less pronounced.
The Cover Matters
For balls with identical covers, we didn’t find significant differences in the percentage of spin lost when the ball is wet. That said, the data collected strongly suggests some covers do a better job of preserving spin in wet conditions than others.
Ionomer Spins Less
This shouldn’t come as a surprise but balls with less-expensive ionomer covers produce less spin in any condition.
Yellow Balls Might Perform Differently
When looking at the wet/dry data, we can confidently say there is a difference between the white and yellow version of the Pro V1. It would be interesting to see if the results are similar with other manufacturers.
Other Things to Know
The dry spin rates are a bit higher than most we see in the real world. A high swing speed paired with a perfect robot strike resulted in high spin rates. That said, relative spin rates between balls – ultimately the focus of this test – should hold consistent.
Highest-Spinning Balls – Dry
Given that golf ball performance of irons and full wedges is more similar than different, it’s not surprising that the list of highest-spinning balls is similar, though not identical.
Lowest-Spinning Balls – Dry
The surprises on list of low-spinning balls off the wedge include the Volvik Tour VS4 (one of higher-spinning balls off irons) and the Snell MTB Prime X which also produced lower than expected spin rates for a tour-level ball.
Highest-Spinning Balls – Wet
As we mentioned, moisture can have a significant overlap on performance. So while there is some overlap in our Top 10 lists, we also see new balls enter the conversation when moisture is introduced.
We’d be remiss not to mention that all four Srixon balls appear among the Top 10 in wet spin performance.
Lowest-Spinning Balls – Wet
The list of lowest-spinning wet balls is similar to what we saw in our dry list. You’ll find the three ionomer balls along with the Volvik Tour VS4, Titleist Tour Speed and Snell MTB Prime X as the lowest-spinning urethane balls.
Wet Versus Dry – Best Spin Retention
Whatever your maximum spin rate, ideally you want it to be as consistent as possible. While spin loss is unavoidable in wet conditions, some balls are inarguably better at retaining spin than others.
In this section we highlight the balls that lost the least spin in wet conditions.
Best Spin Retention (Smallest percent difference in spin rates)
In a situation that reminds me of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car (“starting from zero, got nothing to lose”), the Not Your Ball was among the best at retaining spin.
The PXG Xtreme, one of the highest-spinning in dry conditions, was also in the Top 10 for wet spin preservation.
Wet Versus Dry – Worst Spin Difference
When moisture is introduced, the balls that suffer the most significant spin degradation are the Callaway Supersoft, Titleist Tour Speed, Volvik Tour VS4 and VICE Pro Zero.
Supersoft spin rates changed by more than 63 percent while Tour Speed, VS4 and Pro Zero all saw spin decreases of more than 55 percent relative to dry.
About the Pro V1 Yellow
The data suggests differences in the wet/dry performance between the white and yellow versions of the Titleist Pro V1.
By the numbers, the yellow spun less under dry conditions but not by a statistically significant margin.
In wet conditions, things get particularly interesting.
When moisture was added, the Pro V1 yellow spun 700 rpm less on average than the stock white ball. For additional context, under wet test conditions, the highest-spinning Pro V1 yellow spun less than the lowest-spinning white. There was no overlap in the data.
Can the paint color really matter?
Golfers likely think of paint as just color but, in the golf ball world, paint is chemistry and that could help to explain the differences.
For years, there has been chatter that yellow balls from other manufacturers spin less than white ones. Based on what we’ve seen with the Pro V1 (and in our first ball test with the yellow Z-Star), it could be worth a deeper dive across OEM lineups to see how much of a difference there really is..
We’ve focused our conversation on spin performance but we wanted to give you the ability to cycle through a selection of metrics to gain a better understanding of how moisture impacts other aspects of golf ball performance.
We encourage you to look for whatever you might find interesting, of course, but here are some suggestions:
- When moisture is added, in addition to drops in spin rates, the loss of friction inevitably creates higher launch angles.
- As with spin, some balls do a better job than others of minimizing launch angle changes than others.
- The best ball at preserving launch angle (Not Your Ball) sees only an eight-percent increase in launch angle while the worst are nearly 30-percent higher when water is added.
- As friction is part of the compression story and compression correlates with ball speed, you’ll find notable changes in ball speed when moisture is added.
- The best performers in wet conditions lose less than one mile per hour of ball speed (less than one percent) while the worst lose over four mph (more than a 4.5-percent difference).
- Finally, it’s interesting to see how these changes impact the carry distance equation. There are no absolutes here. Some balls lost between four and five yards while a few actually gained distance.
We’ve tried to put as much data as we can into a sensible amount of real estate. With that, the two charts below are best viewed on mobile.
Here’s what you need to know.
- You the Choose Metric dropdown to choose from the list of available metrics.
- You can also filter ball Manufacturer (OEM) and Ball Model.
- The chart is sortable by Dry Ranking, Wet Ranking, Percent Change or the deference between the wet and dry values.
- You choose to show the Top x, Bottom x, Middle X or ALL where x= the value in the Show X box.
Other things to be aware of:
- The wider (blue) bars are always the data for shots hit in the dry condition.
- The narrrow (gray) bars are always the data from shots hit in the wet condition.
- The red bars at the bottom show the percent change from dry to wet.
- We’ve also included the numerical difference between the dry and wet values.
We’ve learned that the charts will not load if your browser is in incognito mode.
You will either need to adjust your security settings, or view the charts on the tableau site by using the header links above each chart.