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I've got a story for you today.
It's the story of how I shot an even-par 72 and won a golf tournament with...
A range ball.
And... A brief breakdown of why your golf ball may not matter in the ways you think it does.
To tell this story, we have to turn back the clock to my sophomore year of high school golf.
At this point, I was a brand new golfer. I'd only been playing for a few years, and I didn't know much. Furthermore, I had never won a golf tournament, and I didn't really believe I could win one.
So I showed up to the course that morning with optimism, but no real intention of climbing the leaderboard. I just wanted to beat my personal best score ever and break 80.
As I was warming up on the range, I noticed there was a scuffed-up ProV1 in the mix of range balls.
The ball had scuff marks, had been scooped up by the range picker a few hundred times, and who knows, maybe even lived part of its life in a water hazard before finding its way into my bag.
And the best part?
It had one of those "practice" markings on it.
It was a beat-up, "practice" ProV1 golf ball.
But at this point in my life, the ProV1 was the "holy grail" of golf balls in my eyes, so against all good reason and intelligence, I decided to put it on my tee on the first hole.
But as we all know, golf can be an illogical game.
With that heavily-used golf ball, I shot my first ever even-par round of golf (6 strokes better than my PB) and got my first ever tournament victory.
The story above is 100% true. And it begs the question, does your golf ball actually matter? Should you be spending your money on those expensive ProV1s? Or instead, grab some used golf balls from a reseller and be on your way?
Here are three things that actually matter when it comes to golf balls.
While this is 100% contradictory to my story above, I generally recommend golfers purchase brand new golf balls to play with.
Used golf balls can be a great, but there are three things that will cause inconsistency in your game over the long run:
- Tears and Cuts - throw the ball away, it's useless
- Cart path "scuffs" - causes weird spin and ball flights
- Water damage and age - causes inconsistency in distance
By purchasing a new golf ball, you can be assured none of these will affect your score. There are tons of affordable options out there nowadays. For complete beginners, I like the Wilson Profile Distance balls, and for most golfers, I like the Kirkland, Snell, and Vice balls.
If you want to get all technical, the USGA has a One Ball Rule which in some committees states that you must play the same brand of golf ball the entire round of golf.
But there's a better reason you should purchase new golf balls and stick with the same ball each round.
By doing so, you will start to get a "feel" for your golf ball, which includes:
- How far do I carry this golf ball?
- How much rollout do I get with this golf ball?
- How much spin can I expect around the greens?
- How much "pop" does this have on the greens? (lag putts)
If you're a complete beginner that is losing golf balls left and right, I don't think this advice applies as much. At this point, any golf ball that gets you out there playing and having fun works.
But as soon as you start shooting below 100 consistently, I'd pick a golf ball and stick with it. Golf is about eliminating variables, and I'd much rather see someone play a "bad" golf ball brand consistently than jump back and forth between a mix of premium golf balls.
Let's be real here. Regardless of whether we actually believe those brand new ProV1s we just paid $55 for will actually help our game, we sure do feel great opening the box and teeing it up.
It's the "look good, feel good" phenomena.
And while it might be incredibly superficial, "feeling good" in golf matters.
I'd argue that there are better ways to feel confident out there on the course (e.g. reading Golf is Not a Game of Perfect), but if buying some brand new ProV1s is your thing and you've got the money, have at it! Everything helps in this game.
In conclusion, when it comes to golf balls, remember these things:
- If your ball has a cut, discoloration from water damage, or a scuff from a cart path, don't use it.
- Try to be consistent with the ball you play so you can learn the "feel" of it and have consistent distance control, spin around the greens, and speed control on the greens
- Buy for quality, but don't go overboard. You'll probably see improvements playing a ProV1 over a Nitro ball, but not a ProV1 over a Vice Pro Plus. Find something "in the ballpark" of what you need, but don't obsess over comparisons.
See you next week!
About the author: Zach Gollwitzer
Hey, I‘m Zach, the founder of The DIY Golfer! I created this site while playing D1 collegiate golf with a simple mission—I wanted to learn the golf swing and get better at golf myself.
Fast forward a few years, and my “journal“, The DIY Golfer, has been viewed by millions of golfers worldwide looking to do the same with their games. my mission is to make golfers more consistent in just a few hours a week through advanced practice strategies and timeless, first-principle golf instruction.