Build Your Best Bag Part 2: The Golf Ball

Best Bag Part 2

From Tee to Green

As Titleist is fond of reminding us, there is only one piece of equipment that you use on every shot: the golf ball.  That’s why choosing a ball should be a primary consideration when assembling your bag.

This Lesson Is For You If:

You play “whatever ball I find” or “whatever’s cheap”

You want more consistent results from tee to green

Golf ball display

Why the Golf Ball Matters

Just like a driver or wedge, golf balls have unique performance characteristics when it comes to launch and spin.  These differences will affect the performance of your clubs, so you’ll want to be fit for your clubs with your gamer ball.  Being fit with a golf ball that you aren’t going to play makes as much sense as being fit in Denver when you live in New Orleans.*

*That’s a reference to the dramatic elevation difference for those that skipped geography class.

Benefits of Golf Ball Monogamy

I understand why so many people end up playing four different brands of golf ball each round: you found a Srixon while looking for your Top Flite, you borrowed a Callaway from your partner, your son gave you a box of Titleists, and so on.  I get it.  Golf is expensive, and it’s nice to just play whatever is handy, cheap, or free, however, it’s not helping your game.

Do you know what is typically the most difficult equipment change is for a professional golfer?  The golf ball.  That’s why so many pros are still playing old versions of the ProV1.  They know exactly how that ball performs for them in all different situations.  They understand that golf is played under ever-changing conditions, and they want to keep that one piece of the puzzle consistent.

Now, I know that you’re not a tour pro, but you can get the same type of benefits from picking one golf ball and sticking with it.  You will no longer wonder, “If I hit this pitch well, will it check up or roll out?”  You will know exactly how far it goes on your best drives.  You will know your iron distances more precisely.  Your putting will improve dramatically because you’ll have the same feel time after time.  And you’ll finally have a real answer when someone asks what ball you’re playing.

Which Ball is best?

Selecting a Golf Ball

If you’re going to settle down with one golf ball for the rest of your life (or at least one golf season), you need to make a good choice.  That can be difficult because there are easily 50 different options at every big box golf store in the country.  Thankfully, I’m here to help.

The first thing you need to do when selecting a golf ball is to prioritize the following characteristics: feel, driver distance, or short game spin.  If you prioritize distance, you’ll likely want to start your search with the two-piece distance balls.  If feel or spin is the top priority, you’ll want to start with the three, four, or five piece tour balls.

From there you’ll want to do some testing.  Let’s say that feel is most important to you.  Buy a sleeve each of a few different models, and see what feels best to you.  If one ball stands head-and-shoulders above the rest, you’ve found your mate.  If you have a few acceptable choices, move on to the next priority.  If priority number two is distance, get your remaining choices on the launch monitor, and find the ball that consistently delivers more ball speed and less spin.

Here are a couple more tips on selecting a ball.

If short game spin is your top priority, you’re probably going to end up with a tour ball, but don’t be afraid to check out the 3-piece mid-tier balls that many companies make.  For most players, they will be indistinguishable from the tour balls, but they’re much less expensive.

Also, unless you’re a low single-digit handicap, I’d recommend trying at least one two-piece ball to see how much difference the tour ball makes to your short game.

If distance is #1 for you or you prefer a firm-feeling ball, you’ll probably want to start your search with the $20/dozen two-piece balls.

Club Champ Banner 1

The Next Step

Now that you’ve found your golf ball, it’s time to figure out what it does for you.  Use it to figure out your distances with each club, a process I outline HERE.

Also, do not forget to bring your ball of choice to all of your club fittings.  Again, the numbers and feel will vary dramatically with different golf balls, and you want to make sure you’re fitting is as close to “on course” as possible.

Building Your Best Bag

Part 1: The Golden Rule

Part 2: The Golf Ball

Part 3: The Driver

Part 4: The Putter

Part 5: The Irons

Part 6: The Wedges

Part 7: The Long Game

Part 8: Specialty Clubs

Part 9: Maintenance

Matt Saternus


  1. Great article Matt. I am about to embark on the ball change project. You hit the nail on the head in regards to “the ball you got given” as I get given a carton (yes 70 odd balls) each year at a company golf day, these have always been top level TaylorMade balls but I feel like i’m just hitting them because they are in the cupboard.

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