Golf Ball Test: Wet Versus Dry Spin
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Golf Ball Test: Wet Versus Dry Spin

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Golf Ball Test: Wet Versus Dry Spin

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.

Test Location

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.

Environmental Conditions

The wet/dry portion of the test was conducted indoors. As such, environmental conditions were not a significant factor in the results.

Test Process

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.

Outlier Removal

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.

Key Findings

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

The highest-spinning balls were the PXG Xtreme and the Wilson Staff Model followed by Inesis Tour 900, Kirkland Signature Performance+ V3 and the Maxfli Tour X.

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.

On the low end of the spin spectrum, you can see the deficiencies of ionomer as three of the bottom five – Not Your Ball, Wilson DUO Soft and Callaway Supersoft – are ionomer-covered.

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.

The highest-spinning balls in wet conditions include the Bridgestone TOUR B X, Seed SD-02, Inesis Tour 900, PXG Xtreme and the Inesis Tour 900 Proto.

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)

The Seed SD-02 lost the least amount of spin when moisture was added followed closely by the Bridgestone TOUR B X.

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.

Three Srixon balls appear in the Top 10 for spin preservation. Expanded to the Top 15, the list includes the fourth Srixon ball (Z-Star XV) along with the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x.

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.

Looking at the bottom half of the chart, you’ll find all of the urethane offerings from Callaway and TaylorMade along with Foremost-made balls from Maxfli, VICE and OnCore.

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..

The Data

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.  

Charts

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.

Golf Ball Performance – Wet vs Dry Performance (Bar Chart)

Golf Ball Performance – Wet vs. Dry (Crosstab)

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Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





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      Zack

      3 months ago

      This coating company is making a nano technique coating for golf ball , that is really make the ball lower spin and hydrophobic . I tested already , it’s really works and nice .

      Reply

      Dan K

      4 months ago

      I think the whole “white vs yellow” needs to be a large test on it’s own.

      Reply

      Jason S

      4 months ago

      Well done Tony, as always.
      I’d love to see you guys do an all yellow ball review. Both wet/dry and standard testing. More and more people are going colored balls these days. So it’s probably more worth while now than ever.

      Reply

      joe

      4 months ago

      Thank you! Agree w/ the comments below. Wonder how water impacts other clubs in the bag? Higher launch/less spin seems desirable for driver. could water be beneficial?

      Reply

      MarkM

      4 months ago

      Nice Article, great info. Figured there was a difference but it’s nice to see the numbers backing it up. It’s also nice that my preferred ball the Bridgestone BX seems to fair well.

      p.s. I would LOVE to see further exploration of yellow vs. white performance in a variety of balls!

      Reply

      CryptoDog

      4 months ago

      Hmmm….. this is only half-cocked, as it’s said.
      If the environment is wet all around when you play that the ball gets to be this wet, the club face usually also collects the moisture on its way to the ball, and the splash off the deck with the strike needs to be considered.
      I always find that when the driver face is wet, the ball will fly out of control. I’d love to see those stats also.

      Reply

      Mark R

      4 months ago

      Tony – Excellent job gathering and interpreting the data. My degree is is Physics, so the inner-nerd in me gets excited about these type of tests.

      My gamer is the Pro V1. I normally play white, except for twilight golf where I prefer the yellow for better visibility. Never considered there would be a spin rate difference between colors.

      Reply

      MIGregB

      4 months ago

      Another terrific test by MGS, thanks! But I need some help. For some time now (many articles), I get an error message on any article that has a searchable table imbedded. Besides not being able to search on the table, the error immediately moves the curser/screen to the point of the message making a pain to read the remainder of the article. I’m sure it some set-up issue on my part, but I can’t find it. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated. Here’s the error: “Unexpected Error
      An unexpected error occurred. If you continue to receive this error please contact your Tableau Server Administrator. Session ID: 07F3EA86AC314B588F76B592381E35DF-0:0
      Uncaught SecurityError: Failed to read the ‘sessionStorage’ property from ‘Window’: Access is denied for this document.” Thanks!

      Reply

      James Sayers

      4 months ago

      I’m getting this too. I’ve had it before on my phone but it’s usually fine on my laptop. Unfortunately these tables are not working on my phone or laptop!

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      4 months ago

      This is related to the security settings in incognito mode. You can try normal browsing mode or following the links in the headers above the charts to view them directly on the tableau public website.

      Kyle

      4 months ago

      What about distance differences from the driver?

      Reply

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