What Are The Best Golf Balls For High Handicappers?
Last Update April 23, 2019: We've added a few more comparison tables to make it easier for you to pick the golf balls that best fir your game. We've also recently published a guide on the best iron set for mid-handicappers which is a nice addition to this article.
Back in the days, when I was a high handicapper, there was no doubt which ball I was going to play. Free ones. Let’s assume that we are talking about golfers who are not as limited financially as I was.
What are the best golf balls for high handicappers? There are so many factors that can enter into this discussion.
It sounds like a simple question, however when answering the question of which golf ball a high handicapper should be using, the qualifying question should be:
What factors keep a player from graduating to the next level?
Here they are:
- Having to add penalty strokes due to poor driving (not straight off the tee)
- Inaccurate iron play
- Poor chipping and putting
Let's address each of them in detail.
Why do high handicappers need special golf balls?
First Issue: Poor Driving Performance
When talking about driver performance, there are two things one must consider:
- Question 1 : are you driving the ball far enough?
In order to maximize the distance required, you must choose a ball that you can compress with whatever your swing speed is.
Ladies and seniors should definitely choose a ball with a lower compression, such as a Wilson Duo 50 or a Callaway Supersoft , to name a couple.
Someone with a higher swing speed that wants to hit it farther could go to a ball with a slightly higher compression such as the Pinnacle Rush or the Callaway HX Hot Black Golf Balls White .
- Question 2 : are you driving the ball straight enough?
If you have a problem keeping the ball in play, I would suggest that you use a golf ball that is not as soft as others. This reduces the side spin imparted on the ball.
Second Issue: Inaccurate Iron Play
Just as with the driver, there are two problems that contribute to your inaccurate iron play. They are:
- Inconsistent distance
One would think that the same distance ball that you use to maximize driver distance would also work with your irons.
Sorry, but this is not necessarily true.
Most so-called distance balls are somewhat jumpy.
- Keeping your shot on line
Third Issue: Poor Chipping And Putting
If there is one area that causes high handicappers more grief and keeps them from bettering their scores, it is poor chipping and putting.
Think about it.
If you are consistently unable to get up and down from 40 yards and in, or are 3-putting more often than not, you are costing yourself anywhere from 5-15 strokes per round!
Now I don’t want to suggest that something as simple as using the right ball will cure everything, because it definitely won’t.
But, using the right ball will give you better feel when it comes to chipping and putting. Feel turns into confidence and confidence turns into better play.
So...if your driver is relatively good, and...you have a decent command of your irons, then…maybe it is time to really concentrate on your short game.
One thing I should mention is to be careful that your “soft” ball does not become damaged or get out of round.
The problem with soft balls is that they are not particularly durable. Not only will they get out of round after being hit a number of times, but are also prone to scuffing their covers making them inconsistent to putt with.
That is why most pros will not finish a round with the same ball they start with. Of course, this shouldn’t be a problem with most high handicappers, as they are surely prone to lose a ball throughout the course a round.
...Then What Should You Do Next?
I have played the game for a long time and I can attest to the importance of using a ball that is best suited for your game. As you read on, you will identify where you need to improve to help you get to that next level.
Next time you visit a golf shop, take a look at the claims made by golf ball manufacturers on their packaging.
Most, if not all, claim to have a ball that is “Long, Straight and Soft”. If that were true, why do we need so many choices within their product range? The truth of the matter is that you cannot have the best of all things in one ball.
In reality, today, golf ball manufacturers concentrate on two markets.
The first, and most obvious is the high end market, which they supply mostly on a free basis to their staff professionals. The natural benefit of course is the exposure their product gets from these staff pros.
However, the group that provides the highest sales volume to them is high handicap golfers. Statistics support this in that 45% of golfers worldwide have a handicap over 28.
Almost half of all golfers in the world are considered high handicap players!
Let’s take a look then at the best golf balls for high handicappers.
What kind of player am I?
In order to help you to choose a golf ball that is best for you, we need to do a bit of self evaluation to find your weakness. This could be for example realizing that you can't help but top the ball.
Which of the following areas is most important to you when look at where your golf game is now, and where you want it to go?
Based on these areas, we have broken down in categories the best golf balls specifically for you depending on what you need to improve.
Our Best Golf Balls For High Handicappers By Category
I will talk about each of these areas below in an attempt to aid you in making your choice.
In addition, I will list 2 or 3 options in each category, and a link to where to purchase that ball.
You would be hard pressed to find a golfer that didn’t want to hit the ball farther, but is distance first on your wish list?
If it is, there are a number of options for you.
Golf ball manufacturers all have a ball that they claim to be their longest ever.
The main area of improvement to make their ball longer is spin.
Making their ball with lower overall spin characteristics, combined with drivers that have a lower CG (Center of Gravity), allows their ball to launch high, spin less and roll farther.
Best Distance Golf Balls: This Should Be Your #1 Choice
- There is no disputing the ProV1 or the ProV1X as being Titleist’s longest golf balls. However, given their high price, the Velocity come close second with a better price/quality ratio.
- From a distance standpoint, the Velocity is my choice from Titleist. It’s lower overall spin rate, combined with a higher launch angle is the reason it gets my vote.
Alternative Options If You Don't Like The Velocity
- While there is a drop-off in distance between the Tour Preferred and some of Taylor Made’s less expensive balls, it is insignificant when it comes to the Aeroburner Pro.
- It seems to milk extra yards out even when the ball speed is a bit lower, which is a bit of an anomaly, but could be attributed to the “342 high lift low drag dimple pattern” that Taylor Made advertises.
- While it is true that some of Callaway’s newer models outperform the Warbird, the price point, right below the $20 mark, does it for me. The large, soft core leads to higher ball speed, which in turn increases distance.
- Callaway employs former NASA aeronautical engineers who aided in developing “HEX Aerodynamics” technology. This creates penetrating distance and lift, even at lower ball speeds.
While it is nice to boom one off the tee, what good does it do you if the side spin imparted on the ball is so great that you can’t keep it on the planet?
As difficult as it may seem, manufacturers actually try to design their balls with both back spin and side spin criteria in consideration.
However, from a testing standpoint, most manufacturers will only give their balls an “overall spin rating”.
We are going to use this rating for the purpose of our assessment.
Titleist NXT Tour
- The ball with the lowest overall spin from Titleist is the DT SoLo. However, it does not seem to be available on Amazon right now.
- Therefore, I would recommend the NXT Tour. The overall spin rate of the NXT Tour is a respectable 4768 rpm. In reality, this ball performs near the level of the ProV1 or the ProV1X at a price that is far less.
TaylorMade Burner TP 1
- Taylor Made’s Burner TP is as accurate a ball as you will ever find. The overall spin rating of 3800 rpm is 30-40% lower than any of Taylor Made’s other balls.
- It has been renamed this year to simply Burner TP, but still utilizes the LDP (low drag performance) technology. This ball is excellent for players with a slower swing speed.
Although there are many things that contribute to most players assessment of how a ball feels, for me it comes down to putting.
For most high handicap players, the design of today’s golf clubs actually diminishes the ability to feel the ball as it comes off of the club.
Unless you use a blade or a muscle back type of iron, it will be hard to actually feel the ball on your club face, especially with less than full shots.
With this in mind, the way your ball feels coming off of the putter face is, to me, the most important aspect of how a ball feels.
If you are a player that can feel the ball, then any of these balls will provide that for you.
Taylor Made Project A
- Taylor Made has added an additional layer just below the cover called the “spin mantle”. Spin rates are both higher and consistent.
- The ball is engineered specifically to give amateurs better performance from 100 yards in, as well as around the green.
Our tests indicate that amateurs miss the pin by an average of 35 yards on a 150 yard approach shot. Playing Project A gives amateur golfers a better chance at stopping the ball on the green, creating better scoring opportunities.
Former VP of Research & Development at Taylor Made
In addition to the obvious benefit of having to buy less golf balls because they are more durable, there are other factors that make durability important to a high handicap golfer.
In the past, a golf ball that was considered durable often didn’t measure up when it came to playability.
Years ago I played a ball called “Spalding Star-Flite”. It was available with both red and green print. The green ball seemed to be a bit “less hard like a rock” than the red one.
The ball seemed to last forever...or at least until I lost it. And it was rock hard. When you putted it, you could feel absolutely nothing as it jumped off the putter face.
There are two things that contribute to how long you will want to play a ball before you replace it. (assuming you don’t lose it before making that call)
- Does the cover scuff and nick up to the point that it will affect my putting?
- Does the ball get out of round so as to affect whetheror not it will roll straight?
Almost every manufacturer claims that the covers on their balls are more durable than their competitors balls within the same class.
What I mean is that it is not fair to compare, say, a Callaway distance ball with a Titleist soft feel ball when it comes to the durability of the cover.
Most manufacturers will overestimate the durability of their ball. Most high handicap golfers go through one or two balls per round. They rarely get a chance to test a manufacturer’s claims of durability.
The rule of thumb here is that the softer the cover, the easier a ball will scuff up. Most 4 piece and even some 3 piece balls have very soft covers. Most distance balls are a 2 piece design and have harder covers.
When it comes to a ball getting out of round, the determining factor is simple. A player with a fast swing speed will deform a softer ball quicker than someone with a slower swing speed. Make sure and choose a ball that best matches your swing speed.
- This is a 2 piece ball (which is common for a durable ball) that flies extremely straight, especially when hit with the driver.
- Contrary to any of it’s predecessors in the TaylorMade distance category, this ball also putts well.
- TaylorMade’s claim of a long, straight ball that is playable around the greens seems to be spot on in this case
- Pinnacle has long had a history of being a distance ball.
- The main difference in the latest version of Pinnacle’s distance ball is the lower compression, which when combined with the standard durable cover, seems to give the Rush a playability not seen in previous Pinnacle balls.
Titleist Velocity High
- Two things that are worth mentioning regarding the Titleist Velocity golf ball: Larger and faster proprietary core; Thinner cover (also proprietary).
- The design changes in the Titleist Velocity has enabled it to launch high and lower spin. Better players loyal to Titleist will no doubt stick with the Pro V1 or Pro V1X, but the surprising performance level of this ball combined with the lower price tag, should make it attractive to many players, especially the higher handicap ones.
Even though I do not consider price to be the most important factor when buying golf balls, I am not ignorant to the fact that to some, it is.
Due to the very nature of golf retail, it is difficult to recommend balls strictly on price point, as what is least expensive today may not be so next week.
However, there are balls that are typically less expensive than others.
In addition, golf balls that are less expensive are not chock full of surprises. What you see and pay for is exactly what you are going to get. For that reason, I will not waste your time extolling the virtues of these balls.
There are really two distinct price points when it comes to golf balls. There are expensive balls and inexpensive balls.
Believe it or not, there are more inexpensive balls than expensive ones.
Remember, 45% of golfers in the world have a higher handicap, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this would be the case.
The high performance golf balls, especially around the greens, appeals to better players. It is then no surprise that they cost more money. A high handicapper will not realize the benefits of this ball until he/she becomes a better ball striker. So, in short, buy a ball that gives you more bang for your buck.
Our Top Picks
There is no doubt that either the Titleist Pro V1 or the TaylorMade Tour Preferred are great all around golf balls and are used by both pros and low handicap amateurs throughout the world.
The thing to keep in mind is that these players are highly accomplished in most facets of their golf game.
They choose to play this type of ball because of the overall feel they get when it comes to their whole game.
So, which golf ball would I recommend for high handicappers and why? Drum roll please...
- This ball does for me exactly what I need it to do.
- It is straight, both off the tee and with my irons.
- It is soft enough around the greens so as to give me some feel with my short irons when chipping and putting.
- It is nice to putt with...it rolls well.
- And last but not least, it is durable.
Titleist Velocity High
- If any ball comes close to the performance of the TaylorMade XD, it is the Titleist High Velocity Golf Balls
- Although the TaylorMade XD is straighter and longer with the driver, the Titleist is more consistent from a distance standpoint with my irons.
- It too is a pleasure to chip and putt with and is very durable.
I am a bit of an anomaly in that I still prefer to play a ball that is not considered a high performance ball even though I still carry a scratch handicap.
The truth is, I don’t play any better with a Titleist Pro V1 than I do with a TaylorMade XD.
I have tried almost every ball offered in the market today and, I will play almost any ball...as long as it’s free.
If I do have to buy golf balls, it is usually one of the two mentioned above.
Whatever it is that influences your decision when it comes to getting the best golf balls for high handicappers, try to be well informed.
More important than the one or two strokes it could save you per round, is the potential game improvement it could help you with.
When it comes down to it, that is what we’re here for…
”Always one step further to help you improve your game”
Once you have found a golf ball that you really like, stockpile them!! Buy 10 or 12 dozen and hide them away somewhere. It seems that when you find a ball that you like, they get discontinued...Wilson Staff Titanium, Strata MD, Nike RZN Black just to mention a few.
I hope that this article provided a different insight that is of some value to you and will help you find the best golf balls for high handicappers. If so, please share this with your friends and supply a comment for us.