Soft vs. Hard Golf Balls: Which Golf Balls Should You Use?
Choosing a soft or hard golf ball affects your performance, such as the distance traveled, spin, and control.
While most golf balls look similar, each is uniquely made with cover materials, compression ratings, and layers - all designed to create optimal performance and play.
Here’s the question: should you choose soft or hard golf balls?
In this guide, we aim to settle the debate by sharing key differences between the two and how to choose the best type of golf ball based on personal skill level and preference.
Key Differences Between Hard and Soft Golf Balls
“Soft” and “hard” indicates how the golf ball feels when it lands on the ground. Each ball has distinct characteristics that impact your play. Before you choose your new ball, you’ll want to consider its features.
Characteristics of a Soft Golf Ball
Soft golf balls have a more delicate feel and touch. Hitting a softer golf ball causes a higher deformation based on the compression rating. Most manufacturers will label the compression rating on the product box, and soft golf balls have a compression rating from 35 to 65.
Softies generate a higher degree of spin than firmer balls, allowing a more controlled shot for skilled players. These balls also come to a faster stop on the green for optimal distance control.
Characteristics of a Hard Golf Ball
Hard golf balls have a firmer core than their softer counterparts, which is why they have a higher compression rating, ranging from 65 to 120. Regarding performance attributes, firm balls have more side spin, a lower launch, and greater durability. While hard golf balls perform well, they’re more challenging to compress in colder temperatures.
Choosing the Best Type of Golf Ball for Your Skill Level
You’ll want to pick a golf ball based on your existing skill level - specifically your swing speed. This will help you pick a ball with the appropriate compression rating to suit your needs.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you’re willing to test out different balls, you’ll have an easier time finding one that gives you an edge on the course.
However, always ensure you’re following the USGA rules regarding golf balls, so you don’t receive any penalties - especially during tournament play.
Beginner and Average Golfers
For beginner and average golfers, we recommend two or three-piece golf balls with a low to mid-compression rating. Many amateurs have a swing speed of under 95 mpg, making lower compression balls ideal.
New players prefer softer golf balls because they have a great feel and enhance performance. The lower spin rates from soft golf balls help to reduce the chances of slicing or hooking shots for better distance control.
Softer balls are also more forgiving than firmer balls. If a player fails to hit the center of the clubface, a softball won’t lose as much speed. Conversely, hard balls tend to lose more momentum on off-centered hits.
Slow Swing Golfers
Slow-swing golfers rely on balls that generate low spin and explosive speed. Furthermore, they’ll look for balls with an aerodynamic dimple pattern to promote better carry, flight, and distance.
In short, we encourage players with slower swing speeds to use softer golf balls with low compression ratings. Transferring energy on softer balls is easier, ensuring proper ball compression as you make a hit. Finding a ball with a compression rating of 80 or less is recommended.
Softer balls help to optimize for greater distance and a straighter flight; however, these balls can struggle around the greens.
Fast Swing Golfers
Fast-swing players are best suited to use hard golf balls, creating a more effective swing. While soft golf balls may feel spongey at higher speeds, firmer-feeling balls work well for fast swingers. Their ability to generate more side spin allows more skilled golfers to attempt fades and draw. Harness that power!
Seasoned players tend to look for balls with greater side spins to make it easier to fade or draw the ball. They may still choose a soft golf ball, but it’ll be multilayered such as a three or four-piece construction. Urethane or synthetic balata covers the ball’s core - important qualities for many pro golfers. Or pro golfers may choose a hard golf ball with a soft cover since the cover affects its spin. It’s about personal preference!
So, Should You Use Soft or Hard Golf Balls?
The choice between soft and hard golf balls depends on your skill level, swing speed, and personal preferences. In most cases, though, an average golfer will prefer a softer golf ball with a lower compression rating (35 to 65), as they offer a delicate feel, higher spin, and better control.
On the other hand, harder golf balls, with higher compression ratings (65 to 120), are recommended for fast-swing players who seek more side spin for fades and draws.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ll cover the most frequently asked questions players ask when comparing soft vs. hard golf balls.
Do Softer Golf Balls Go Further?
Yes, softer golf balls generally travel further than hard golf balls. Softer balls allow players to gain extra distance off the tee without demanding a high swing speed. They’re also easier to control, allowing players to add spin to the ball and create more impact.
Do Pros Use Soft Golf Balls?
Yes, some professionals like Viktor Hovland and Harris English use soft golf balls. But it goes well beyond hitting the ball a few extra yards! Golf balls with a soft urethane cover can stop more quickly on chip shots - crucial to scoring.
Can a Golf Ball Be Both Hard and Soft?
Regardless if the ball is considered hard or soft, they’re advertised as having a soft feel. Many golf balls may have a firmer core but use a softer outer cover. For example, high-end golf balls feature a urethane cover to provide more spin and feel around the greens.
Knowing the differences between soft and hard golf balls can help you choose the best option for your game. Golf balls with additional layers are designed for more skilled golfers. However, the specific firmness of the ball will vary from player to player.
If you’re looking to level up your game, you’ll want to have the best golf gear and accessories to support your time on the green. Stitch Golf has a wide range of golf-related products to keep you comfortable and protect your clubs and balls - hard or soft. Shop our extensive collection today!