Results: 2019 Golf Ball Survey
Golf Balls

Results: 2019 Golf Ball Survey

Results: 2019 Golf Ball Survey

Two months ago, we posted the 2019 edition of our Golf Ball Survey. This is the second time we’ve done a ball survey and the first since 2015. Suffice to say, we got a lot more responses this time around.

The idea was to get a better idea of why you play the golf ball you do (or maybe why you don’t much care what ball you play). Along the way, we covered brand (and model) preferences, ball fitting, and the growing direct to consumer market. Frankly, we got a little deeper into the mud than we planned, but what’s a little dirt in the interest of a greater understanding, right?

For each chart, I’ve included my general observations along with some of my interpretations. I would encourage you to draw your own conclusions and share those thoughts in the comment section.

Before we move on, just a couple of quick notes:

  • I didn’t want to get into the demographics stuff too much, so for those who are interested, I’ve put a gallery of those charts inline farther down in this post.
  • For those curious about sample size, these charts reflect data collected from just over 7000 (7009 to be exact) completed surveys.

Winner Winner

Before we jump into the data, we need to announce the winner of the 6 dozen Bridgestone balls offered up as an incentive to take this survey.

Congrats, Keith A. We’ll be in touch.

With that out of the way, let’s dig into the data.

Survey Data & Analysis

Technically, this probably still qualifies as a demographics question. The chart pretty much speaks for itself. It looks like our bell curve is centered in the 5-6 dozen per year. That sounds about right for no other reason than it’s about how many I go through. It’s reasonable to assume that better golfers go through less and that golfers who live in climates that allow for year-round play likely go through a few more.

If you’re not buying golf balls, you’re probably either playing what you find, or not playing golf. Neither of those sounds particularly awesome to me.

This is about what I’d expect given that golf ball prices aren’t’ particularly fluid. The takeaway is that the typical MyGolfSpy reader isn’t merely looking for cheap. Just under $50 is what most pay for Pro V1s, while the company’s primary competitors tend to sell for a bit less.

Experienced shoppers know that buying in bulk can drive prices down. That’s especially true in the direct to consumer space where bulk pricing puts Snell and Vice under the $30 mark for their urethane offerings.

Not surprisingly, Titleist leads the field by a significant margin. Nearly 80% of respondents say they’ve played a Titleist ball within the last year. If you’re a play what you find kind of golfer, chances are you play a lot of Titleist.

TaylorMade and Bridgestone hold a slight advantage over Callaway and Srixon. After that, there’s a significant drop-off to Snell, Vice, and Kirkland, before dipping into the sub-10% range for most of the rest of the field.

Among the 4.58% who chose the Other option, TopFlite, Pinnacle, Inesis, Nike, MG, Seed, and Noodle were the popular choices.

Noodle? Seriously?

Apologies for the clutter. We wanted to give you as much opportunity as we reasonably could to tell us what your preferred golf ball model is. It shouldn’t be surprising that the #1 Ball in Golf (Pro V1/Pro V1x) is your top choice, but I’ll admit to being surprised by the size of the gap (nearly 3x that of your #2 choice).

Looking at the 2nd tier, Srixon was next among our readers- narrowly edging out TaylorMade. Snell’s MTB/MTB X and Bridgestone’s Tour BX/BX S line were preferred by 8.41% and 7.62%, respectively. This is one of those cases where what our readers choose doesn’t align with the market as a whole. It’s a bit of a surprise for me that Callaway, the #2 ball on the market, isn’t particularly popular with our readers. That’s plenty justified given what we uncovered during and after our ball test,  but it’s surprising to see the degree to which it trails brands it leads in the broader market.

Looking beyond Snell in the direct to consumer space, Vice, Kirkland (this survey was closed before the ball launched), and to a lesser degree MaxFli (the Dick’s house brand), are more popular than offerings from more mainstream golf brands like Wilson, Mizuno, and Volvik.

Among those who selected Other, Inesis’ Tour 9000, Srixon’s Soft Feel and AD333 were popular choices. It’s also worth noting that obsolete balls like the Titleist NXT Tour, Nike RZN, and Bridgestone e6 series were mentioned several times each.

Just about anyone who knows anything about golf balls and golf ball performance will tell you that you should play the same ball for every shot all season long. Most of us do a little bit of experimenting each year, which is to be expected, but how often are we keeping our favorite ball in play?

More than 10% of you say you play your preferred ball 100% of the time, while the biggest chunk, say their favorite ball is in play 90-99% of the time. Plus or minus a rounding error or two, that gives us about 50% of respondents playing their preferred ball at least 80% of the time, while about 9% play their favorite ball less than half of the time.

This question may be worth exploring further in a separate post. It would be interesting to see what correlations exist between preferred ball usage and handicap or preferred ball usage and ball model. For example, are better golfers more inclined to play their preferred ball more often? What about brand loyalty? Do golfers who favor Pro V1/Pro V1x players play it with more regularity than golfers who favor Callaway?

A greatly simplified version of the previous question, we wanted to see how often you moved between golf balls. Not surprisingly, a substantial majority play several different ball models over the course of a season. It’s also not surprising that nearly 11% report playing multiple models over the course of a round. Let’s stop doing that.

We wondered about the extent to which golfers think about who is actually responsible for the technology in the golf balls they buy. The mainstream golf ball OEMs all have a library’s worth of patents. Dean Snell’s experience (and IP) in the ball business is well-documented too. After that…things start to fall off.

As golfers may or may not be aware, while the overwhelming majority of Direct to Consumer balls are more accurately characterized as Indirect from the Factory offerings. The actual design, engineering, and manufacturing are typically done by one of a growing number of ball factories in Asia, while the retailer of record is responsible only for the logo, packaging, and most importantly, the marketing. More often than not, the guys telling those stories are selling a stock factory product, know next to nothing about designing a golf ball, and hold exactly zero patents in the golf ball space. The pitch by many Direct to Consumer ball brands is that they eliminate the middleman. In reality, they are the middleman.

How much does any of that matter to golfers shopping for a decent ball at a reasonable price?

For the biggest chunk of you, the answer is not even a little. Nearly 40% of you think it’s somewhat important, though I suspect a good deal trumps most everything else. Almost 18% of you said it’s very important. Does that mean you won’t play a ball made by someone without any golf ball IP?

Big-box stores, which include places like Dick’s and PGATour Superstore, account for the highest percentage of ball sales. Online (from the manufacturer or direct to consumer) is next at just under 21%. That covers everything from direct to consumer brands, to mainstream brands mirroring the DTC model. Online golf specialty retailers are just above 10%. Traditional golf shops (both green grass and off-course) are hanging in there, while I suspect Amazon is going to continue to grow and will one day soon surpass those traditional channels.

Among those who selected other, Walmart, Costco, and Lostgolfballs.com were mentioned most often.

One of the things we often hear from golfers is that “I’m not good enough to tell the difference between golf balls.” So, we wanted to get a better sense of how pervasive that sentiment is. Encouragingly enough, only 5% said that, from what they can tell, all golf balls are the same. A significantly higher percentage said that they can only tell the difference between urethane and surlyn balls. That suggests that a large segment of golfers (roughly 41%) doesn’t believe they can tell the difference between tour-quality balls. And again, this is data from our readers. Across all golfers, I suspect that the number is significantly higher.

Whether that’s ability-driven or speaks to the reality that golfers don’t always know what to look for is unclear.

Just under 60% of respondents believe they can discern performance differences between golf balls.

What’s notable here is that the MyGolfSpy reader appears significantly less likely to play a non-white ball than a typical consumer.

+/- 20% is what most tell us the percentage of non-white balls is across the market as a whole. We’re closer to 16%. Some of that likely comes from a lack of Truvis play (since few of you reported playing Callaway balls). I’d also wager that the typical MyGolfSpy reader is more inclined to play a tour-quality ball. While most everyone is offering something other than white within the category, the breadth of color choices isn’t nearly what it is within the 2-piece/surlyn space.

Given how concerned readers often are about what clubs Pros are playing, it’s initially surprising that less than 4% of you say you won’t play a ball that isn’t played by professionals. My hunch is that this is the necessary byproduct of the growth of the direct to the consumer market.

If your perspective is that you’ll only play brands that are played on tour, you’ve effectively limited your selection to 5 brands while committing to pay +/-$40 for a dozen balls. I’d also wager that this speaks to the degree to which golfers believe they can discern performance differences between balls. Golfers are much more reticent to play clubs that aren’t used on tour, and nearly everyone says they can tell the difference between the club they bought and the ones they didn’t. With balls, it appears to be mostly the opposite.

Cost almost certainly plays a role here as well. The performance specifications of many direct to consumer balls don’t vary wildly from those from the mainstream brands. Quality differences are challenging to quantify, but cost differences can be significant. Take all of that and pair it with the perception that those cost differences are directly attributable to big brands paying professionals to play their product, and it’s easy to understand why validation at the professional level isn’t a concern for 71% of you.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Before we delve into Ball Fitting and Direct to Consumer offerings, let’s pause briefly to look at the demographics of the readers who participated in this survey. I’ll spare you the commentary on these charts. As a reminder, just a bit more than 7000 golfers completed this survey.

Ball Fitting and Direct to Consumer Use

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of ball fitting (it DEFINITELY matters), so we wanted to gauge your perceptions on the importance of ball fitting relative to club fitting.

I’ve gone back and forth in my head on this several times. I could make an argument that it’s more important than club fitting, but from a cause and effect perspective, it makes sense to me that if you can’t consistently deliver the club, you’re not going to come close to maximizing the potential of the golf ball.

With that in mind, I find myself agreeing with the 71% of you thing ball fitting matters a bit less than club fitting. While I’m typically not a fan of speaking about any aspect of fitting in absolutes, I will say that the 6.72% of you who think that golf ball fitting is unimportant are absolutely wrong.

This question is plenty straightforward. Just a bit less than half of you have been fit (in some capacity) for a golf ball. Those of you who answered YES were presented with additional questions so we could learn a bit more about your golf ball fitting experience.

Among those of you who report being fitted for a ball, more than 50% were fitted online. It’s a start.

Demo days and fitting events account for the lion’s share of in-person fittings. I suspect ball fitting will see the most growth among custom club fitters (textbook win/win situation), while big-box will, no doubt, look to capitalize on what should prove to be a growing trend.

It’s one thing to get fit for a ball; it’s another to play it.

Roughly 60% of you are still playing the ball you were fit for. For those who told us you weren’t playing the ball you were fit into, we asked a simple follow-up: Why?

Switched to something else or something better likely explains 90% of the equipment decisions we make.

As you’d expect, price is a factor, with nearly 20% saying the ball they were fit into was too expensive. Performance and Feel were also mentioned quite a bit in the comments by those who chose the other option.

Other factors mentioned by respondents include a lack of availability in their local proshop, poor wind performance, and a lack of short game spin. I suppose those last ones fall under performance as well.

The most interesting of the frequently mentioned reasons for not playing the ball you were fit for is that the fitting was limited to a single brand. This speaks to the current lack of brand agnostics ball fitters. Titleist fits for Titleist, Bridgestone fits for Bridgestone (though historically they’ve admitted when their ball isn’t the best for a given golfer), Callaway reps fit for Callaway, and so on down the list it goes.

Custom club fitters are beginning to get in on the action, and as the availability of brand-agnostic ball fitting increases, golfers should be happier with the results, and less inclined to wonder if what they’re fit into is the best ball for them or just the best option from a particular manufacturer.

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Direct to Consumer Balls

Another fork in our survey’s road. We wanted to take a closer look at Direct to Consumer golf ball usage.

For what it’s worth, we last ran a golf ball survey in 2015. At the time, the percentage of respondents who had tried a direct to consumer ball was effectively zero. Just a bit more than 4-years later, nearly 50% report having purchased direct to consumer balls.

The golf ball space is full of well-established brands that make quality, high-performing products. So why are golfers looking elsewhere?

Surprise, surprise (not really), it’s primary cost. When bulk pricing for a reputable direct to consumer balls isn’t much more than half the price of a dozen of the #1 ball on the market, it’s easy to understand the appeal.

I also understand wanting to support the little guy, especially if you’re inclined to believe that the big guy has been taking advantage of you for years.

My 2 cents here, I think Better is generally a poor adjective to qualify ball performance. Unless we’re talking about a quality/consistency metric different is almost always a more apt descriptor. You’d also have a tough time selling me on Superior Tech and Innovation. Perception vs. reality and whatnot – where are the patents? Similar tech for less, sure, but we didn’t give you that option.

Among the others, Curiosity and some flavor of the Price/Performance equation were cited most often.

One last fork in the road.

44.37% (of our original 43.91% who’ve purchased a DTC ball) report that they’re still playing a DTC ball. That earned you an extra question.

The response from our readers suggests that there are currently only two serious players in the direct to consumer space. Snell accounts for more than 67% of DTC usage among respondents, while Vice is less than half of that. OnCore is the only other brand above 5%, though we should again mention that this survey was conducted between major Kirkland ball releases. If Costco fixes the problems with the new 4-piece, I would expect it to be a top-3 DTC brand.

Kirkland, Inesis, and MG were listed most often by those who selected Other.

Currently, no Direct to Consumer ball is produced in the USA. As you’ll see in a moment, country of origin doesn’t factory highly in the ball buying decision matrix, but I would curious to see if a DTC ball produced in the USA would have the potential to move the needle.

Prefaced with the fact that I’m typically one who takes measures of interest in hypotheticals with a grain of salt, I can’t ignore that 80%+ of you are somewhat to very interested in an imaginary direct to consumer ball that’s made in America.

It could be fun…or it could be nothing.

This is inarguably the most meaningful question in the survey. In straightforward terms, it’s a means to try and understand what you’re looking for in a golf ball.

To recap: Respondents were asked to rank each option in order from Most to Least important. If an option wasn’t a consideration, survey takers would able to select NA.

Across all responses, Quality Control/Consistency was rated as the most important factor. That’s interesting since it’s difficult to quantify, and what consumers know about quality is mostly (though not exclusively) anecdotal. I agree that Quality/Consistency should be, far and away, the most important factor in the ball buying decision. The challenge in that is, again, that it’s tough to know who is actually producing a high quality and consistent product and who isn’t.

As I would have expected, Feel and Greenside Spin were next on the list, followed by Driver Distance and Iron Performance. Three of those things impact your score, one of them doesn’t – and not for anything, if you care about Greenside Spin, don’t play a ball with an ionomer/surlyn cover.

Where things get interesting (to me anyway) is when we look at Forgiveness and Price.

My perspective is that, as it relates to a golf ball, the notion of forgiveness is mostly bullshit. We can dig into that in more detail if the interest is there, but there’s certainly no universally accepted metric. That gives manufacturers plenty of room to play fast and loose with a word that suggests more benefit than it actually delivers.

We’ve already established that price is the primary reason why golfers are choosing DTC balls in increasing numbers, and yet, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not among the top reasons why golfers choose a given ball. What I think that means is that price matters, but not to everyone, and not to the same degree.

Within the bigger picture, Brand Name, Color/Graphics, and Country of Manufacturer appear to play little role in the buying decision, though I suspect Brand Name is more important than respondents admit.

This chart presents a different look at the previous question. The first chart shows the average relative importance in a single bar, while this one examines the rate at which each choice fell on our 10-step ranking ladder.

For example, that bit of green on the top right shows us that Country of Manufacture was rated as the 10th most important factor 26.6% of the time, and was not a factor at all (NA) 28.04% of the time.

There are a few things that stand out with this visualization.

  • While Quality Contro/Consistency had the highest average rating, it’s notable that its position is driven almost entirely by how often it was selected as the most important consideration (1). 26.71% of golfers rated it first. When it’s not the most important consideration for golfers, it’s less of a consideration in general.
  • Feel, while not selected as the most important factor as often, is almost always a factor. Golf companies know this and they’ve leveraged it to sell you balls that feel good (often to the detriment of your game). While plenty of golfers prefer a softer feeling (and inherently slower) golf ball, responses to other questions in the survey suggest that too soft can also be a problem. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks problem. There’s no universal just right for every golfer, but if you swing faster than 80MPH, you should think about how much you’re willing to give up off the tee and how much spin you’re willing to sacrifice on your iron shots for a preference that rarely has a performance upside.
  • Curves for Driver Distance, Greenside Spin, and Iron Performance are similar, though Greenside Spin appears to be the most important of the group. As long as we’re not at the extremes, with spin typically comes control. The highest spinning ball may not be the best for you; you want a ball that produces enough spin. With that in mind, stop playing 2-piece Ionomer balls. In terms of smart decision making, I think the order of importance across the entire chart is pretty much spot on.
  • Color, country of manufacture, and brand name follow similar curves as well. None of them appear to factor heavily in the buying decision. I suppose you can call these value-added features. It’s nice to have color options, some of us like particular brands, and many appreciate it when a ball is made in the USA. All good things, but none a significant-enough reason on its own to buy a ball.

Have Your Say

In general, a lot is going on here, and I’d be interested to hear your takeaways from these last two charts and the survey as a whole.

Be sure to share your thoughts below, and if you have any ideas for future surveys, please share those as well.

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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





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      scott

      5 years ago

      I call this Scott science, The Pro v is a great ball but I’ll never pay retail price $45 a dozen ( I find them ) the low end ball $20. a dozen roll out to much on most greens.. I find them too. The medium price ball $35 a dozen seem to work well for my game. I find them too. The moral of Scott science is you buy the golf balls and I find them here’s where the science come in and I recycle them and save the earth from Global warming. . ..The only problem is I have about 4000 golf ball in my garage because I find more ball then I lose

      Reply

      Scoot 24

      5 years ago

      Good article always. I noticed that when comparing specific model you lumped the Titleist ProV1 and 1x together but didn’t do the same with the Bridgestone Tour B line. Is there a specific reason?

      Reply

      Peter R

      5 years ago

      One thing not mentioned here with regards to both demographics and the general market are women golfers. What proportion of MGS readers (and survey participants) are women, and how does this compare to the market as a whole? And how might this affect the results?

      I work at a couple of golf courses as a starter. It seems to me that women play colored or Truvis balls more than men do, for example. Women’s handicaps are generally higher than men’s, and swing speeds are lower, so they probably shouldn’t be playing the same balls as men.

      So if survey participants are more heavily male than the market as a whole, this could explain some of the variations brought up in the article.

      Reply

      rob

      5 years ago

      Which websites offer the best online ball fitting?

      Reply

      mizuno 29

      5 years ago

      Great information!! I along with almost all other golfers really believed that the quality of tour level golf balls would be excellent, they are approaching the silly cost of $50 a dozen, but I was shocked, no really pissed off that they have no better quality control than they do. Hopefully they get their shit straight!

      Reply

      Brad

      5 years ago

      FORGIVENESS. You bring it up tantalizingly, then only let it simmer. I would define this as reduced side spin, which I’d argue has to do with ball manufacturing consistency. This dovetails back to your incredible ball testing.

      Is forgiveness something else I’m missing?

      Getting a ball spinner or Epsom salts and a marker have been my Go To since your testing, to at least enhance the forgiveness of the ball I’m playing, which I’d recommend everyone here look for in their Xmas stocking.

      Am I missing anything else in the forgiveness column?

      Reply

      Randy

      5 years ago

      Thanks for interesting survey Always look to MGS for truth in golf

      Reply

      Bruce Hall

      5 years ago

      Interesting about the article’s comment regarding the Costco-Kirkland 4-piece ball. When they became available this fall, I ordered 4 dozen to try out. Before I had a chance to try them, I got an email from Costco informing me that I would get a full refund on my purchase and, by the way, keep the balls. I did a little research online and found that the refund was due to the high number of complaints about the ball cover splitting/cracking. I went out for a casual round with my brother and gave him 6 and we play the entire round with the Kirkland balls. My first impression was “Wow, they go a lot farther and straighter than my Wilson Duo Soft 29s.” My drives were averaging 10-15 yards farther and the feel was great around the greens. I’ve played several more rounds with the Kirklands and had no issues with them. The last round I played with guys I have played with for more than 2 decades. They wondered how the H— I could outdrive them so far. My scores dropped 3-4 strokes. So they get the nod from me. Hope they come back to the stores.

      Reply

      PEB

      5 years ago

      Hi, tremendous work getting and analyzing all of those data ! I am a little bit surprised by what I read a few times : “stop playing 2-piece Ionomer balls”. I consider myself an avid golfer, despite not being a good one. I work on my game even if lately I haven’t been able to dedicate as much time as I wanted to. I was fit, to a 2 piece ionomer ball, and I consider myself not good enough to play something more complexe and more expensive. It transpired through this article that you consider that any serious golfer could benefit of a 3 or 4 pieces urethane ball ? I always thought that it would make my barely controlled shots even less in control, and even shorter. Is it a misconception ?

      Reply

      shortside

      5 years ago

      My biggest takeaway is the demographics. Last I heard the average age was 54. Which means the gray set is probably under represented here. Which is fine. It’s a good representation of MGS readers.

      Question for MSG. When will the readers test of the Maxfli Tour be released?

      Thanks.

      Reply

      David G

      5 years ago

      Tony, I’m not sure why you would want to provide miss information about DTC companies listed in your comparison.

      A quick Google search will show Oncore has multiple issued patents and patent pending for golf balls and for technology within a golf ball. Their in house engineering team has Douglas DuFaux, a very well known ball expert with over 25+ patents and a world class advanced materials engineer. Their balls are made with their own molds and proprietary dimple pattern, with their patented core ans layered materials. These are also manufactured in the fame factory as 2 of the top balls you have listed here.

      Maybe this particular DTC ball company is not just a reseller, marketer and middleman for an Asian ball manufacturer?

      Give their balls a try, it seems others on your team seemed to like them very well in previous tests.

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      5 years ago

      David, I’m not sure why you’re arguing against something I didn’t say.

      I’d urge you to reread what I wrote, and tell me exactly where I said OnCore doesn’t have IP?

      The balls are manufactured by Foremost, which also manufacturers balls for Vice and MaxFli.

      Reply

      wbn

      5 years ago

      Great article. I have been a Bridgestone fan for the last 6-8 years. After receiving two dozen Srixon for testing I now play both, depending which ball is in my bag when I get to the 1st tee. Never thought I’d be happy with another brand. It was good to see the showing Srixon made in the survey. Thanks for all the articles you give us.

      Reply

      Odie

      5 years ago

      Question for MyGolfspy staff and readers. With the price of premium irons approaching $200+ per club, how much would you pay for “ultra high end” golf balls that gave you much better performance.? In other words, if the technology was out there to produce a golf ball that flew 15 yards further using exotic materials and manufacturing, would you pay $20 per golf ball for it?

      Reply

      Dave Hagigh

      5 years ago

      A few comments from an 8-9 handicapper…….

      *I just don’t think it matters that you play the same ball. But it DOES matter if you’re playing similar ones. Only a moron would think a low-end rock is as good as a multi-layer, urethane ball. But once you get to urethane/multi, does it matter? I think the performance of these is so close that most players can’t tell the difference and it does not show up on the scorecard. I recall MGS did a comparison a few years ago of the ProV and the 2016 Kirkland ball (but don’t recall if it was done with people or a robot). Since the results were so close (and ignoring price just a for a second), does it really matter which of these 2 balls you play?

      Similar to experts blindfolded at a wine tasting, I’d love to see players of different levels play all the better balls (Snell/Chrome Soft/ProV/etc.) do a blind test. The results would be very interesting.

      *As for fittings, I agree that they’re almost all done by the company reps and the quality of the reps varies. I did one years ago at GG and the guy at the store said I could use 5-6 balls. It really did not say anything useful.

      “The comment….It’s also worth noting that obsolete balls like the Titleist NXT Tour, Nike RZN, and Bridgestone e6 series were mentioned several times each.” They’re not obsolete, they’re really just out of production. The NXT is a great ball and I still have a few and play them. I don’t notice a difference between them, the ProV, or the new AVX. They’re all fine balls. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they’re all urethane, multi-layer balls. Are they that inferior to the current balls?

      Lastly, I really appreciate these stories. It’s nice to see MGS taking this sport this seriously.

      Reply

      mizuno 29

      5 years ago

      The NXT Tour is not a urethane ball.

      Reply

      mark

      5 years ago

      I work at a golf course and find lots of golf balls. I keep the upper tier golf balls (titleist, callaway, bridgestone, taylormade). I found/kept 10 dozen Pro V1/x mint condition golf balls this year, got rid of 6+ dozen nicked up ones. I see too many people (poor golfers) playing the wrong ball, especially Pro V1, just because of the name. Most probably couldn’t tell the difference between most balls. You keep playing them, I’ll keep finding them, and saving money.

      Reply

      MIKE

      5 years ago

      Ha, my story (& view) is the same! I haven’t purchased a golf ball in 11+ years & I’ve always played top-of-the-line models, usually in ‘like-new’ condition. Hard to believe a bogey golfer could tell the difference between premium ball brands.

      Reply

      David B

      5 years ago

      Very well done, thorough and interesting

      Reply

      KP

      5 years ago

      Hey Tony! AWESOME write up. I appreciate all the effort you put in to each and every review you do. But here’s the AWESOME thing about not paying for PROV 1’s when you work at a golf course. You find all these AWESOME ProV’s,that most of the time have been hit once and don’t have a scuff or cut on them. AWESOME. I have at least 12 dozen AWESOME looking PROV 1’s. Yes I find a lot of other AWESOME looking balls, but I give them away because they are wallhangers and not gamers, at least for my game. How AWESOME is it to have MyGolfSpy to go to for the unbiased truth. Thanks for being so AWESOME. KP

      Reply

      Jerry

      5 years ago

      I really enjoyed your work not comparing the different golf balls. I had purchased 2 dz Kirkland’s last year, as well as Snell, Vice and last years ProV1’s on sale this spring. Also because of your data, bought a dozen Srixon Q Star Tour. Love the ProV1’s; hate the $; Snell and Vice – OK, but not great. Kirkland, not too bad for the price. Q-Star Tour is now the ball I prefer as the best compromise of all factors. Handicap 10-11, <100 mph swing speed, 72 yrs. old.

      Reply

      GolfHo

      5 years ago

      Not interested in popularity contest surveys. That is for the leftist media and the marketing departments.

      Much more interested in your golf ball test Results.. I play based on performance and value not what is a popularity contest.

      Reply

      Randy

      5 years ago

      Really, leftist golf media !! Almost choked on my Chardonnay

      Reply

      Wes Brown

      5 years ago

      Enjoyed reading the data. At 78 years old, I can tell some of the balls apart but a ball does not define my score or handicap. The only ball I refuse to play is any Topflight ball as most of them feel like hitting a rock. I use mostly Tour Practice balls to which I have access and prefer Taylor Made, Srixon and Titlelist in order of my preference. over all of the other brands I can tell the the difference between these three and most all of the others on the market.

      Reply

      HARRY

      5 years ago

      Don’t disregard the new Topflight Soft. Good ball for the money.

      Reply

      NH Golfer

      5 years ago

      Just for the record, the old Top Flite company lead the way in soft feeling, high performance solid balls. Two, three, and four piece balls alike. Today’s Top Flite balls aren’t even Top Flites. They are mere imitations cranked out by Dicks Sporting Goods.

      Reply

      steve

      5 years ago

      nice work but i think it does not matter witch ball you play if you dont have a high club head speed to backup a ball.

      Reply

      Bob Sanderson

      5 years ago

      Was there any additional breakdown in purchases between Pro V1 and Pro V!X?

      Reply

      Bob Pegram

      5 years ago

      The fact that Titleist reversed the designations of ProV1x and ProV1 balls a couple of years ago would probably make the result confusing. I won’t play Titleists I find because I don’t know which one I have found – the higher or lower compression one..

      Reply

      Joe Carlson

      5 years ago

      Great Article, I realize all that info was a lot of work.
      Being 70 years old, and playing golf many years,
      It was nice to get unbiased results concerning
      This subject, It’s appreciated.

      Reply

      David Shoop

      5 years ago

      Played most anything until I took some lessons and got my game under 90. Then got fitted for clubs Calloway Rouge X and ball Titlelist AVX. But, found I hit Calloway Chrome Soft and Super Soft further on drives and with more control on Irons. I have slower swing speed at 75 yrs old. Thinking Calloway compresses more. Might be my imagination but, I believe most balls are close enough except for the really hard ones and what really matters is your confidence level in what your hitting. Besides if you hit straight and consistantly you will score well and 5 or 6 more yards isn’t going to screw your score up. There is no magical ball, you create your magic.

      Reply

      Lou

      5 years ago

      Thanks for all your hard work. Your charts seem in line with what I would have guessed they’d be. My own thoughts, as to what I play, jibe with yours. It is been apparent, since your big test last April, that there is a bias on your part for Snell balls, perhaps, because Dean Snell shares considerable knowledge and information with you. I’ve tried Snells and they are good balls at a good price. They are better than Vice as your charts indicate by the percentages that play both. For my age group, over 70, I don’t think it’s as good as the Srixon QStar Tour and the QStar Tour is actually $2 cheaper per dozen. QStar just dropped their price by $10 per dozen to $19.99 so I surmise a new QStar Tour, with their new core, is coming soon. Snell needs to soon update their MTB Black to compete on both quality and price.

      Reply

      Sneaky Mike

      5 years ago

      I can get gently used Titliest balls from maintenance crews for 4-6.00 a dozen. Good enough for me!

      Reply

      Willie T

      5 years ago

      Great read on the results of the survey of the MGS contingent. None of the results from the survey actually surprised me. Those I play with represent a mix of golf skill sets – everyone from a low-handicap former course pro, who’s swing is like butter, to super high (30+) handicappers who average half dozen or better lost balls per round. I have friends who tell me they can only use certain balls for their skill set is such that a premium ball is required. I am still looking for “that” ball that really fits my game. I’ve done online ball fitting through several mfg’s – all recommend a middle of the road ball for my game and where I am. That is fine with me. Best part of my game is I typically lose maybe 1-2 balls per round, compared to earlier in the year where a half dozen lost was a good day..

      Reply

      Doug Mael

      5 years ago

      When I took the survey, I was playing the Snell MTBx ball, but I have since returned to playing either Titleist ProV1x or TM TP5x balls. I actually find that the performance of the ProV1x and TP5x balls, as well as Srixon’s Z-Star XV, is EXTREMELY similar for me ….. and all three of them outperform the Snell MTBx in both distance and control when I play them. As for playing the same ball on all shots in all rounds of golf, I don’t think that this will really make any difference in my game, as long as I stick with the above-listed balls, since all perform virtually the same for me. I can shoot 80 with any of these balls (and I can also probably shoot 95 with any of them on a bad day).

      Reply

      Dormie5

      5 years ago

      Great survey/analysis. Interesting, even if one only uses 20% of data/conclusions.
      Don’t understand why Pro VI & Pro VI x weren’t separated?? There are some differences & either sells more than 80% of other choices..
      Somewhere I think I read, if you want driver distance go x-hard regardless of swing speed??

      Reply

      David Haughton

      5 years ago

      In Europe, the age of the typical golfer is somewhat older than the age profile 51%+) of the respondents to this survey. If this demographic is similar in the USA, then the conclusions may not be reflective o fthe wider golfinmg public. EG you note Callaway is #2 in ball sales in USA but down the rankings of balls purchased./users by the respondents.
      PS: Any chance we can have Xander to play for us in the Ryder Cup – he would qualify via his parents!

      Reply

      Jeff S

      5 years ago

      Great info Tony. One note on ????, for the last 4-5 years, or longer, Titleist has run the buy 3 dozen get 1 dozen free promo which lets consumers get 4 dozen balls for about $35, assuming Pro V’s. Any Titleist users thinking of switching due to price have probably stayed with the brand. I’ve always thought that was brilliant marketing by them and they come out with it in the Spring at the beginning of the season for many of us.

      Reply

      Bob

      5 years ago

      I’d be interested in how ball choice is correlated with something like driver distance, i.e., do us older, slower swing speed golfers tend to use something different than the younger guys who can effectively and consistently achieve 100+ mph swing speeds?

      Reply

      Alex Kalionzes

      5 years ago

      I’ll disagree with ball fitting (you can do it yourself with trial sleeves) and playing the same ball (I fit to the course/weather conditions and what I feel like playing that day… still a 3 index so it seems to be working in my isolated case). Most ball fitters are either company reps or just say “Play the Pro V1/V1x… it’s the number one ball.” Neither is helpful and until ALL balls are available and the fitters are unbiased (dream on), you’re better off getting demo balls and determining what works best for you.

      Reply

      Adam Jones

      5 years ago

      Great insight thank you. Titleist Prov 1 and X are without doubt premium quality golf balls supported by effective marketing supported by an aspirational brand. Although in my playing experience DTC brand offer comparable product at half price.
      It would be interesting to do a blind test taking away the brand and cost advantages to see which ball golfers prefer. Forgive me if you have already completed this test as I am new to MGS.

      Reply

      Nick Aquilino

      5 years ago

      Seems to me the only time having a golf ball perfectly fit would make a difference would be when the ball is struck precisely on the center of percussion. For most golfers that is rare.. Ben Hogan recognized as one of the greatest ball strikers said he hit only a small number of shots perfect each round, two or three as I remember. Off center hits will miss the target so there is no guarantee a fit ball would find a better place relative to the green than a ball not perfectly fit.
      Combine that with the fact that there is no more than a few yards difference between all golf balls struck with a driver, perfectly fit golf balls should be very low on a golfer’s priority list. Any effort should be to get a shaft that is fit to the golfer’s swing. That will make much more difference than the ball. .

      Reply

      Deadeye

      5 years ago

      When I took this survey I was playing Maxfli tour balls but have since done my own testing and concluded that the best performance for the money is Pro v1 recycled. Check YouTube Rick Shields test of these. Will I find a few bad ones? Yup. But MGS own research shows that can happen in a box of new balls.

      Reply

      D E W

      5 years ago

      Obviously I don’t think you ever went through a ball fitting. Bridgestone for instance test the ball you currently play as well as a Bridgestone.. you can go through a complete fitting faster than it took you to write your jibberish. The 1 piece of equipment you play every shot that’s right the BALL !!!!!!

      Reply

      John

      5 years ago

      I am not buying that many people are actually paying $$$$+ a dozen for their golf balls, whichever brand that might be. I think this is case of responding with what the responder thinks is most popular. Much like I do when I get cornered into responding to political polls. Seriously, I wish I could justify the funds for the $45 a dozen golf balls but I can’t. I have personal responsibilities that are higher priorities. Fortunately, MGS has shown me there are high quality golf balls that are more affordable.

      Reply

      Steve

      5 years ago

      Strange but have to ask why OnCore balls did poorly in this, but in your previously 2019 balls ratings it was just under the top performers. I have tried many different balls over 50+ years, expensive to damn near nothing. Sorry Titleist lovers, but 90% of the golfers I have been paired with do not have the game to play a $50 a dozen golf balls. Snell and OnCore, at a minimum of 50% less $ wise work just fine.

      Reply

      FBNG

      5 years ago

      While current gamer Maxfli Tour-X, is by accident I tried the Maxfli Tour and ordered four dozen from Dicks personalized for $25 a dozen and got the Maxfli Tour-X instead; Dick offered a further discount to keep the X. Found out the X was a better fit. Never would have tried without your ball test; after I get down to a dozen or so, will probably go with the Snell MTB-X. Unless something else comes along the performs better.

      Reply

      Bill h

      5 years ago

      Tony, this was great! Thanks so much

      Reply

      Larry Ashcraft

      5 years ago

      I ordered 2 dozen Kirkland balls and the sent message to keep the balls and they credited my account due to some problem. What is or was the problem and would a 12 HDC even know the difference?
      Thanks, Larry

      Reply

      Brandon

      5 years ago

      Have you not seen (especially on this website) the quality control issues with the cover? I think a 12 handicap, or any handicap for that matter, would notice the big smiley face on the ball after a wedge shot.

      Reply

      Nigel Brown

      5 years ago

      I note your comments that if you want spin then don’t play a 2-piece or 3 piece ionomer/surlyn covered golf-ball. However, I’ve seen test results that say they have been produced using Trackamn or GC Quad stating that some 2 piece surlyn/ionomer golf balls spin pretty much the same or only just below urethane covered balls. Does your research debunk these findings?

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      5 years ago

      You’ll find similar spin off the driver and irons about even on full wedge shots (with better ionomer). Once you get closer to the green (65 and in is the number we hear most often), Ionomer is a liability. It doesn’t spin as much as urethane, and while the material is getting better, it’s never going to spin as much around the green as urethane.

      Spin is the result of a soft layer on top of a firm layer. The casing layer of a urethane ball is also made of ionomer. Ionomer/Surly is firm, which means when you put all the pieces together, your only options are firm over firm, which doesn’t get you much in the way of spin, or firm over soft (Wilson DUO for example), which gets you even less.

      Nearly everybody wants more greenside spin. If you’re playing ionomer, you are giving it up. It’s a design limitation.

      Reply

      Doug Mael

      5 years ago

      Absolutely correct, Tony! I played today in chilly and damp conditions, and was playing a TM TP5X ball for about 15 holes. Then, I decided on a whim to put a TM RBZ Soft ball that I found into play. The main thing that I sacrificed when I put the Ionomer cover ball (RBZ Soft) into play was greenside spin. Where I was able to get my wedge shots from 30-60 yards to check-up very nicely with the TP5X, I had great difficulty getting any kind of spin and checking action with the RBZ Soft ball. Wedge shots that would check up after one or two bounces with the Urethane-cover TP5X were running-out about 20-30 feet with the Ionomer-cover RBZ Soft ball.

      Tim Secor

      5 years ago

      The charts need to be much clearer the next time you do this. MGS talks a ton about the effects of marketing on the consumer and I guess you guys can feel very proud how this survey has seemingly coerced the masses at MGS when it comes to ball selection. The results reflect a lot of what you guys have published as far as testing is concerned. We are all brainwashed!! lol. Great job on the survey, but nothing is shocking based on everything i read around this blog.

      Reply

      Larry Jonak

      5 years ago

      Tim, TIm, Tim, the charts are clear and you need to look up the definition of coerced. On the one hand we have marketing and the other we have data and when we side with the data we are brainwashed!

      Reply

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