These are our first-ever Ball Lab awards, though we certainly plan to make this an annual event. The idea was to distill more than two years of Ball Lab efforts to highlight the highest-quality, most consistent golf balls on the market.
Please note these awards are based on total Ball Lab scores of current models. Only urethane models were considered and a minimum of two balls models were required to qualify for brand quality awards.
Best Brand Quality
While we’re only considering urethane-covered options for the Ball Lab awards, it’s notable that seven of the current top 10 and eight of the current top 15 models in the Ball Lab database are made by Titleist. The company’s current urethane offerings set the standard with an average quality score of 89.6. Sure, Titleist offers more models than anyone else but with that comes greater opportunity for average quality to be derailed by a sub-par offering. However, every Titleist urethane ball we’ve tested to date has been above average and all but one of those models scored in the mid-80s or better. It’s a case of getting what you pay for. In 2021, Titleist is the most consistent golf ball brand.
Best DTC Brand Quality
With so many good DTC options available for golfers right now, it’s not a total surprise that DICK’S Sporting Goods’ Maxfli Tour line still flies a bit under the radar. It shouldn’t. In addition to stellar performance in both of our robot tests, with an average score of 87.5, the latest generation of the Maxfli Tour series is among the most consistent in golf.
The No. 1 ball at retail is also the most consistent ball in the Ball Lab database. The 2021 Pro V1 has an impressive current overall score of 97. Our sample was nearly perfect and the only ball we’ve tested to rate as Excellent for compression consistency.
Best DTC Ball
With the 2021 version of the Tour X, Maxfli changed both the core formulation and basic construction of its four-piece ball, moving from dual-core to dual-mantle construction. The result is the most consistent ball in the database without a Titleist logo. With only a single bad ball in the sample and compression, diameter and weight consistency scores all solidly above average, the Tour X should be near the top of the list for bargain hunters.
Best Soft Ball
Among the soft urethane balls on the market, the excellent Vice Pro Soft is a standout. While consistency often falls off as compression dips below 80, the 71-compression Pro Soft is notable for being the only soft (compression below 75) ball in the top 10. While the standard caveats around “soft” apply, for fans of soft the Vice Pro Soft should be at the top of the list.
Best Value Ball
With the small caveat that it’s only sold in two-dozen packs, the Kirkland Performance+ V2, with a score of 84, is a runaway winner for the best value golf ball. With a per-dozen under $13, Costco’s current three-piece offering is more consistent than many higher-priced balls. At a minimum, for golfers who want to play the same ball on every shot without fear of lost balls breaking the bank, the Performance+ V2 is a significantly better option than buying refurbished.
Best Ball Above $40
Above the $40 price point is the near-exclusive domain of the mainstream manufacturer and many, including Titleist, have raised prices over the last season. It goes without saying that the Pro V1 isn’t the cheapest but if you believe quality and consistency are important, there’s still value to be found at the premium level.
Best Ball $30 to $40
The $30 to $40 range is where the overwhelming majority of DTC balls live (though volume discounts can push prices below $30). While there are numerous good options in this space, the current generation of Maxfli Tour stands out as the most consistent of the group and arguably the best balls without a Titleist logo on them.
Best Ball $20 to $30
Admittedly, unless you’re buying in bulk, the $20 to $30 price range is a bit of a dead zone for urethane-covered balls. Still, it’s a bracket that the Cut DC fills admirably. It’s not the cheapest ball on the market but it strikes what many will see as a sensible blend of cost and quality.