Thoughts on Ball Fitting
Bridgestone is making a lot of waves out there with their ball fitting process, and all other ball companies are making dozens of different models. It must prove pretty confusing to all of us, so I’m going to try to lend a little sanity to this today. I’ll confess right up front that I have not gone through a ball fitting process and have selected the Bridgestone B330RX as my ball through a pretty simple process:
  1. I don’t play Titleist balls anymore, not since I got in the wedge business. They are the 900 lb gorilla and I just can’t bear giving them any of my money. Same goes for every other major brand — they don’t need and won’t get my money either. ;-)

  2. I’ve tried the Bridgestone balls – all of them – and really believe they make a better product, especially in the wind. I switched from the B-330 to the RX model when I found it a little more suited to my swing speeds.
And now I just don’t experiment with golf balls much. They are all good, and the notion that one company can stumble on a secret that gives them a huge performance advantage just probably isn’t realistic. Any differences between balls of a like style and price point are very minute.

So, here is my simple formula for picking a ball that you should play:
  1. Choose your price point. Decide your pain point for the overall cost of golf balls and narrow your search to balls in that range. This is probably some kind of formula that takes into account your skill level, your ego, your financial status and your devotion to golf.

  2. Choose your brand. They are all pretty darn good. I told you why I play Bridgestone, but if you just happen to like Titleist, Callaway, Nike or some other brand, play it. If it makes you feel good, play it.

  3. After #1 and #2 are satisfied, play the ball that feels the best off the putter and spins best on short shots around the greens. They are all plenty long, and you’ll save more strokes on the short shots than you will be trying to squeak out an extra few yards.
See how simple this can be? I hope you guys have some fun with this grounded advice and that your scores begin to drop because you are focused on the true performance characteristics that will make a difference.

Have a great weekend.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
SteveMM says:
Good article. While I like the *idea* of playing a Pro V1, I can't bear the idea of losing a $4 golf ball. Generally speaking, I refuse to play a ball that costs me more than $1 each. I've actually only lost one ball in my last two rounds of golf, but even if that continues I see no reason to change this rule. Lately, my ball of choice is a D2 Feel -- a good ball for me that doesn't cost much at all.
3/16/12
 
bkuehn1952 says:
I am with SteveMM. Hitting $4 into the woods is painful. I will indulge myself once or twice a year with a dozen Pro V1's using credit card points but I tend to use them solely in tournament play. Found Pro V's are used the rest of the time. Early and late in the season I typically use other brands and types I have found to see if one of them stands out. So far, sadly, every ball seems to be about the same for me with minor variations in distance, dispersion and spin.
3/16/12
 
cvargo says:
I play the bridgestone 330's as well. I was given some Taylormade TP's for christmas. And used those my first round of the season, wasn't all that impressed I thought I was hitting a brick
3/16/12
 
nickmomrik says:
Buy used golf balls from a place like Knetgolf. The premium of buying new isn't worth is for the majority of us. Read www.knetgolf.com/Topic/36-Golf_Ball_Testing.aspx
3/16/12
 
birdieXris says:
I found a great ball in the Callaway HX Diablo Tour. I used to play ProV1X exclusively but it started to weigh on the wallet. At 1/2 the price of the PV1X the Diablo Tours are just as good for me. I can spin them about the same and i like the feel off every club.
3/16/12
 
phallstrom says:
I'm with nickmomrik. Buy used. I've been using lostgolfballs.com for several years. Nice way to try out different brands without breaking the bank. FWIW I can attest that their quality ratings are accurate. Heck, half the time the "mark" on the ball is simply a smudge (or ink dot) they couldn't get off. Anyway. Happy Customer. I used to play ProV1, but found I chew them up within a couple of holes (sliced groove marks, etc.). I switched last year to the Srixon z-star x and find it plays just about the same as the prov1, but doesn't get destroyed nearly so fast.

For those of you that "play whatever", I'd encourage you to pick a ball and stick with it. While the distances might be similar, there are massive differences in check/rollout on the green. Even from short range just off the green.
3/16/12
 
legitimatebeef says:
Interesting reason for not playing Titleist. I can dig it though, they engage in some heavy handed marketing, to the point of being obnoxious. They really like to advertise the stat "Players in the field using Titleist: 125, all others: 14" It used to be worse though, on the PGATOUR leaderboard there would be a Titleist logo next to the name of every Titleist player. OK we get it it's the most popular ball on tour. It's also the most expensive. I'm with TWG, there's no need to buy Titleist balls.
3/16/12
 
GBogey says:
I switched from a mid-level Titleist last year. One added benefit of no longer playing Titleist that I didn't anticipate but should have - much easier to identify your ball from the others in the foursome.
3/16/12
 
cvargo says:
Knetgolf is a fantastic site! I buy from them
3/16/12
 
GolfSmith7 says:
I use lostgolfballs.com and they have great quality and since they are here in houston I go straight to the factory and pick the golf balls myself. Great deals.
3/16/12
 
bobhooe says:
Bridgestone aint exactly mom and pop but I do like the RX for my low 104 swing speed. I also like Srixon z-star in the yellow. Talk about being able to tell which ball is yours in your foursome.
3/16/12
 
dottomm says:
Great post Terry. This was a topic I considered submitting to you and It reminds me of a burning question I have about golf balls. Years ago, may be seven, before I was an avid golfer I had the opportunity to hack my way around Silverado Golf Club in Napa with my Dad. On one holes we let a guy play through us. We'd just tee'd off and we were going to let hime tee-off and continue through. This guy, who could have been from the tour as far as I could tell, started chatting it up with us about the 'different weights' of golf balls and went on to tell us that he chooses his ball by weight depending on the course conditions. i.e wind, rain etc. He showed me two different golf balls and asked me if I could feel the weight difference. I couldn't. But one thing I remember is that they were logo-less. He talked about how he uses a digital scale to sort his balls and he told me that Tour players have custom fitted balls, that regular players can't purchase. All kinds of different weights etc.
3/16/12
 
dottomm says:
He then went and hit a iron about 270 yards with one of the most beautiful draws I'd ever seen and then tipped his hat and was on his way. Terry. Can you confirm any of this? The way this guy played I totally believed him, but now years later I wonder if this could be? I mean it's just a golf ball and I would think pros could play any decent consumer brand like a Pro V1 or others. Just wondering. Thanks again Terry.
3/16/12
 
jpjeffery says:
Yellow ones.
3/16/12
 
homermania says:
I agree with my fellow yellows.
3/16/12
 
Duke of Hazards says:
RocketBallz
3/16/12
 
glenrich says:
Lostgolfballs has worked well for me in figuring out what ball I like. If you are higher handicap like me and still working on the the basics, this site will save your money and let you play higher quality balls at the same time.
3/16/12
 
onedollarwed says:
Balls: surely the most superstitious aspect of golf, yes? I did a pretty good survey over the past 5 years. Playing "found" balls sustained me for years, but as my game improved I wasn't looking for or finding balls that much. I started buying them for the first time, and tried all the bargains that you probably have: Gamer, Burner, Nike Vapor, ONE, PD, etc. It used to seem that the ProVI was much different than other balls, but other balls have caught up. I have settled on Bridgestone recently, and use B330s. The only problem with buying good balls is that the covers tear. I'll still finish the round with the 2 balls I started with even if they're scarred up. They seem to work just fine. I think I might play Pro VIx or NXTs if money were no object. For years I preferred the crisp smack of the XL2000. You can play any ball you want if you spend some time wading, or woods-ing.
3/16/12
 
onedollarwed says:
I wondered if any balls are made in USA? I used to work in New Bedford with a number of women who used to work at the Titleist factory there - close to Acushnet (Most of the women had come from the Azores as teens). They used to take part in the manufacture. Have these jobs moved overseas? If they're still made here then OK to the $$$. If the jobs have left the continent then f-'em.
3/16/12
 
snuffyword says:
Terry, thanks for the input. I was fitted for the Bridgestone e6 but I like the feel of a Pro V1. However, I get better results with the e5, especially with putting, chipping and pitching. I will be gaming the e5 this season. I have tried the 330RX in the past and they are very similar to the Pro V1 to me. I also plan to try out the Srixon Z-Star and the Nike 20XI. They were gifts but I really want to compare how my Eidolon wedges work with each of the balls.
3/16/12
 
DougE says:
In 2010/11 I played the Bridgestone B330RXS and the 2011 version E5 (with dimple in dimple design). They are both great balls. The E5 is about the only mid-priced ball on the market with a urethane cover, like the more expensive balls. E6 and E7 do not have the same cover. I get great bite around the greens with an E5, and with the RXS as well, which for $45, I should. Toward the end of 2011, I started playing a few Titleist NXT Tours, mostly out of curiosity, and was quite impressed with the feel overall. Particularly nice off the putter. So then I tried the Pro V1x and that was extremely sticky around the greens. Loved it. I have now moved over to Titleist balls. I am hooked. The new 2012 NXT Tour S has proven to be one of the best balls I've ever played other than the PRO V1x. If I didn't experiment to see how great the Titleists play, I would still be happy with my Bridgestones, of which I still have dozens. They are great balls in my opinion. But now I understand why so many pros play Titleist.
3/16/12
 
mmontisano says:
good article i guess, but can't the same be said for golf clubs? all of the brands are maxing out all of the specs to the limit, so they should essentially all behave the same way.
3/17/12
 
Optimus Prime says:
I love the Bridgestone 330-RX in warm weather and the e6 in cold weather.
3/17/12
 
larrynjr says:
I played Pro V1's for most of a year but have switched to Callaway Diablo Big Bertha's, they play pretty straight for me and work well around the greens for me and the price point is much better. Unfortunately, they don't make them anymore and the Diablo HX's don't feel the same to me. I've been buying up the DBB's but eventually I'll need to find a replacement.
3/17/12
 
biglou11 says:
Anyone tried the SnakeEyes brand by Golfsmith?
www.golfsmith.com/product/30056695/snake-eyes-to
I was at one of their stores recently, and the salesman tried to get me to buy some. I didn't, though.
3/17/12
 
Matt F says:
I was fitted for the B-330RX and was playing them, but I'm going to go with the E5. I think the E5 is almost as good as the B-330 series, but the price point is much better.
3/18/12
 
jrbizzle says:
I did a Bridgestone ball fitting last year. They start you off with your "current ball". But I play Nike Vapors (the original, not Vapor Speed). But they didn't have the Vapor, so they just had me use the Vapor Speed - which is a significantly different ball in terms of spin. I have no idea why they didn't just have me grab one or two out of my own bag, but he said not to.

Then they ave you hit a handful to get your analysis, and ask what your big issue is and what you like. I said my most serious concern is going right with the driver, but I liked the check around the green. So my test shots showed very little slicing (but the Vapor Speed spins much less than the Vapor). Then they had me hit a few different Bridgestones, and ended up fitting me into the E7, which is a low flight ball which went about 2 yards straighter, but he said it would have less spin? Then he told me I could also play the B-330-RX which would be similar to the Vapor, but gave me a two pack of free E7s. Whatever.
3/18/12
 
Dusty23 says:
To Onedollarwed, Titleist is still churning out golf balls in New Bedford MA, I believe they have 3 ball factories turning out the different varieties within a couple of miles of each other and a corporate facility as well. I have always liked the feel of the Titleist balls with the putter, but I went through the Bridgestone fitting system and started playing the E6 & 330RX a few years back, Great balls. But I tried the fitting system Titleist had online and started messing around with different balls. Well I had a particularly good round playing a Titleist ProV1x, so played it again, another good round, so kept playing them and lo and behold at the end of the season my handicap had gone from 16 to 12. So I'm back playing strictly Titleist ProV1x
3/19/12
 
Backquak says:
I play NXTs mostly but I try other balls, last year I started off with the bridgstone rx, and after I lost them all, I went back to the nxts, I just don't seem to lose them as fast as I lose the others. Titleist sent me some prototype balls at the end of the summer, one that was extremely long and one that had noticably more spin. I thought I liked the distance ball better but I lost all 3 of them in 2 rounds. The spinning balls hung around a bit longer, but I lost those 3 after 3 rounds and 2 scrambles.
3/19/12
 
DoubleDingo says:
I switched to Srixon Tri-Speed and like them. But I find I hit Pinnacle Gold better. Titleist Pro-V's were my ball of choice for years and then in 2010 I got a summer membership at a CC. Got tired of losing the Pro-V's. When I found a ball on the course I started playing it on the next hole. Found that Callaway HX Hot and Pinnacle are the golf balls I hit the best. That same year I tried the Taylormade Penta. Whoa! What a mistake! That ball would start off straight and then banana to the left or right.
3/19/12
 
mjaber says:
I think balls and putters are the 2 things that are more an individual preference than any other piece of equipment you play. You can try and fit me into whatever ball, or putter, you want, but at the end of the day, if I don't like how it looks/sounds/feels, I'm not going to play it.

I stopped playing certain balls because I didn't like the sound it made coming off the putter.
3/19/12
 
vdoombreed says:
My testing found that the balls that I was using were too soft compression wise and I was getting no penetration in the wind. My own personal preference was to find something in a 100 compression rating (I hit the ball hard) and test them all, at that point it's down to feel, but the compression rating really does make a difference to distance and spin. I came down to the Callaway Tour i(z) and the Pro v1x, went with the Callaway because they were cheaper :-), both balls felt the same to me.
5/28/12
 
MarkRich says:
Buy used golf balls from Golfballhogs. My experience was good with it. www.golfballhogs.com
6/11/14
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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