Do Big Name Golf Balls Perform Better? – Golf Myths Unplugged

Do Big Name Golf Balls Perform Better

Contenders (or Pretenders?) to the Throne

Over the last few years, we have seen a number of intrepid entrepreneurs jump into the ring with golf’s 800 pound gorilla, the Titleist ProV1.  These “small-name” makers claim to produce golf balls that are the equal of the ProV1, or any other tour-quality ball, but at a much lower price.  This seems like a claim worth testing, so test we did.

The Myths

Having logged hundreds of hours testing different golf balls on launch monitors, we know that there are two areas where there are real performance gaps between different balls: driving and wedge play.  With that in mind, we’ve chosen to test these two myths:

Myth #1 – Big name golf balls produce the most spin with wedges

Myth #2 – Big name golf balls are longer off the tee

How We Tested

For this test, we took three big name golf balls – Titleist ProV1, TaylorMade Tour Preferred, and Bridgestone B330 – and compared them to three golf balls from new/smaller companies – 3Up, Monsta Golf, and Nicklaus Golf.

For the wedge test, we recorded 20 shots with each ball.  All shots were hit from a mat with the same club, a 55° SCOR wedge.  We only counted shots that were within a 2° window for launch angle and a 2MPH window for ball speed in an attempt to keep the test as scientific as possible, sans robot.

For the driver test, we recorded 10 shots with each ball.  All shots were hit indoors with the same club by the same player.  We changed balls regularly so that one ball didn’t get all the “warm up” swings and another all the “tired” swings.  Shots that were noticeably mishit were not counted.

Testing was done with the help of Club Champion.

Club Champ Banner 1

The Results

Myth #1

The ball that produced the most spin was not the ProV1 or any other ball from a big name, it was the Nicklaus Golf Black.  Additionally, when we averaged the two groups, the big name balls spun slightly less, though the margin was negligible.

When we compared the highest spinning ball to the lowest spinning ball (Bridgestone B330), the difference was approximately 690 RPMs or just under 10%.  While I wouldn’t say that this is insignificant – inches matter in the short game – it’s not a night-and-day difference.

Myth #2

Again, the leader was a “small name” ball, Monsta Golf, with an average of 288.6 yards.  The big name balls did fare better when you look at group averages – they spun less and went farther – but the differences were hardly significant.

Looking at the two extremes in our test seems to indicate that there is more variance in tour balls when it comes to the driver.  The highest spinning ball spun 15% more than the lowest spinning ball, and there was a 10 yard gap between the longest and the shortest balls.

Other Findings

The one other result that is worth mentioning relates to durability.  While the SCOR clubs are not known for chewing up golf balls, it’s still worth noting that every ball in our test survived without a single noticeable scuff or scratch.

What About Feel?

The one major factor that we have not addressed is feel.  Especially when it comes to tour balls, feel is a major part of the decision making process.  Though feel is inherently subjective, we did devise a test to compare these six balls.  We had numerous golfers putt with all six golf balls and rank them from best to worst.  Though most golfers stated similar preferences – “soft” and “responsive” were frequently listed as desirable traits – no ball was consistently ranked as the best.  Our conclusion: the golf balls from smaller brands can compete with the big boys on feel, too.

The Takeaway

Far be it from us to tell you what golf ball to play, but the data does indicate that you don’t need to spend $45 or more for a box of tour quality golf balls.  While Titleist has a headlock on the #1 spot at the register, it does not have the exclusive rights to high performance.  Every tour ball that we tested, whether from a big name or a relative unknown, performed very well both with a wedge and the driver in addition to delivering tour-quality feel.

What golf ball do you play?  Will these results cause you to try something new?  Leave a comment and let us know!

The Data

Golf Ball Data

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Matt Saternus

Co-Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is a golf instructor, club fitter, and writer living in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Matt's work has been published in Mulligan Magazine, Chicagoland Golf, South Florida Golf, and other golf media outlets. He's also been a featured speaker in the Online Golf Summit and is a member of Ultimate Golf Advantage's Faculty of Experts.

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11 Comments

  1. Interesting Matt. The only thing I would’ve liked to see there is the B330S. The B330 is like a ProV1x in the lineup, so the lower spin is expected. I always like seeing the numbers like this though.

  2. I did a comparison test , few months bac for MonstaGolf !.
    Pair up against leading golf balls
    Pro v1 & BS 330
    After all the test where completed :
    MonstaGolf Ball had higher rating over all !
    Rated 96.6

  3. Very cool Matt. I had completely forgotten about the Nicklaus balls and had never heard of Monsta. Love it when I learn something new in a review!

    Also next idea for a lab, does lower compression make the ball go farther in cold weather? I have a feeling it’s going to a relevant conversation very soon…

  4. Thanks for the review Matt. If anyone is interested in giving us a try, they can email me @ken@monstagolf.com and I will send a $3 off a dozen coupon for your readers. Your readers can also follow us on FB, Twitter, and Instagram
    txs again
    Ken

  5. Thanks for the test Matt. Very interesting results although a bit different to our opinion.

  6. a couple of things jump out from the above data
    1. for a 55 degree wedge those spin rates seem a little low, I find I’m generally a ~8000+ spin off my wedge, and the lower handicap golfers i play with can get 9000+ on their wedges
    2. If you’re looking for high spin from your wedge and low spin on your driver the ProV1 is still the only option as all of the lower cost balls were either high spin or low spin for both clubs.

    I would say based on the above data that the high end balls are not worth the price difference unless you are a low handicap golfer.

    • Matt Saternus

      NM,

      1) Those are pitch shots, not full swings.
      2) What data are you looking at that validates that idea? The data I’ve posted above doesn’t support that at all.

      -Matt

  7. Ernest Poirier

    First of all – I do not work for, nor own “stocks” in the company. But – if you wanted to repeat this test, I would strongly suggest checking out the balls from OnCoreGolf.com. They offer 3 versions, ELIXR, AVANT, and CALIBER.

    From experience, I can say that you won’t be disappointed. I played the Avant all year long on the GolfChannel AmTour and won a local tournament with them. Just as long, but with less dispersion, great feel, all at 1/2 the price of ProV1’s.

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