Golf Ball Compression Chart and Rank
Learn the Basics of Golf Ball Compression
Of all the variables that determine a golf ball’s performance, compression may be the most mysterious. What, exactly, is compression? It’s a measurement of how much a ball compresses against the clubface at impact, expressed as a simple number (e.g. 75 or 100). If you’ve seen photos or slow-motion video of the moment of impact, you’ve seen the ball compress or smush against the clubface. The ball launches as this compression is released.
Sounds simple enough, and it is… on the surface. There’s at least some disagreement, however, on the role of compression in how a particular ball performs for different golfers.
|Golf Ball Model||Compression||Model Review|
|Bridgestone Tour B330||High|
|Bridgestone Tour B330-S||High|
|Bridgestone Tour B330-RX||Mid|
|Bridgestone Tour B330-RXS||Mid|
|Bridgestone Lady Precept||Low|
|Bridgestone Extra Soft||Mid|
|Bridgestone Laddie X||Low|
|Callaway HEX Black Tour||High|
|Callaway HEX Chrome+||High|
|Callaway HEX Chrome||High|
|Callaway HEX Diablo||Low|
|Callaway HEX Hot||High|
|Callaway HEX Hot Pro||High|
|Callaway HEX Solaire||Mid|
|Callaway HEX Warbird||High|
|Callaway Speed Regime 1||Medium|
|Callaway Speed Regime 2||High|
|Callaway Warbird and Warbird Yellow Golf Ball Review||Med|
|Callaway HEX Soft Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway Supersoft Yellow Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway New Chrome Soft with Truvis Technology Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway New Chrome Soft Truvis Yellow and Black Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway New Chrome Soft Yellow Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway Strata Tour Advanced Golf Ball Review||Mid|
|Callaway Supersoft Pink Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway Solaire and Pink Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway Superhot 55 Yellow Golf Ball Review||Low|
|Callaway Speed Regime 3||High|
|Callaway Chrome Soft||Mid|
|Callaway Superhot 55||Low|
|Maxfli Revolution Low Compression||Low|
|Maxfli Revolution Spin||Mid|
|Maxfli U/2 Model Golf Ball||Low|
|Nike One RZN X||High|
|Nike One RZN||High|
|Nike One Vapor Speed||Mid|
|Nike Power Distance Long||High|
|Nike Power Distance Soft||Mid|
|Nike RZN Black||High|
|Nike RZN Platinum||High|
|Nike RZN Red||Mid|
|Nike RZN White||Low|
|Nike RZN Tour ball||High|
|Nike RZN Speed ball||High|
|Pinnacle Bling Golf Ball||Mid|
|Pinnacle Gold Distance||High|
|Slazenger RAW Distance Feel||Low|
|Slazenger RAW Distance||High|
|Srixon Soft Feel||Mid|
|Srixon Soft Feel Lady||Low|
|Srixon Trispeed Tour||High|
|Srixon Z-STAR SL||Mid|
|Srixon Z-STAR XV||High|
|TaylorMade RocketBallz Urethane||Mid|
|TaylorMade Project (a)||Mid|
|TaylorMade New Tour Preferred||Mid|
|TaylorMade New Tour Preferred X||Mid|
|Titleist DT SoLo||Mid|
|Titleist NXT Tour||High|
|Titleist NXT Tour S||Mid|
|Titleist DT Trusoft||Low|
|Top-Flite D2+ Distance||High|
|Top-Flite D2+ Feel||Low|
|Top-Flite D2+ Straight||Mid|
|Top-Flite Gamer Tour||Mid|
|Top-Flite XL Distance||High|
|Top Flite Bomb||High|
|Top Flite Gamer Soft||Low|
|Volvik Pro Bismuth||High|
|Volvik Vista iV||High|
|Volvik Vista iS||High|
|Volvik Vista DS 77||Mid|
|Wilson Staff C:25||Mid|
|Wilson Staff DUO||Low|
|Wilson Staff FG Tour X||High|
|Wilson Staff FG Tour||High|
|Wilson Staff Fifty Elite||Low|
|Wilson Staff Zip||Low|
|WILSON STAFF DUO URETHANE||Low|
|WILSON STAFF DUO SPIN||Low|
|Wilson Staff Duo Spin||Low|
|WILSON STAFF DX3 URETHANE||Low|
|WILSON STAFF DX3 SPIN||Low|
|WILSON STAFF DX2 SOFT||Low|
In recent years, manufacturers like Bridgestone and Wilson have put a major emphasis on compression, with the goal of fitting each golfer with the ball best suited to his swing speed and skills. The idea is that golfers with slower swing speeds have an easier time compressing a lower-compression (softer) ball, therefore getting more distance than they can with a high-compression tour model.
It stands to reason that a softer ball will compress more than a high-compression ball, right? Most analysts think so. And nearly every company makes golf ball models of different compression ratings aimed at golfers of different swing speeds.
The lone dissenter: Titleist. The world’s No. 1 golf ball manufacturer insists compression isn’t important when fitting golfer to golf ball. Titleist argues that there’s little discernible difference in how much a tour pro and a rank amateur compress the ball, regardless of the ball’s compression rating. Instead, Titleist focuses on feel, backspin, accuracy, trajectory and greenside responsiveness in its fitting recommendations.
So who’s right, and who’s wrong? As of early 2014, there’s no definitive answer. But most of those in-the-know tend to sway toward the compression matters camp.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume they’re correct.
Which Compression is Right for You?
Should you play a high-compression ball (rated 90-plus), a mid-compression ball (66 – 89) or a low-compression ball (65 or less)? That depends on your performance preferences. But let’s assume that, like most amateurs, driving distance is a key concern.
If you swing the driver at 105 mph or faster: You’ll generate good distance from any ball. While you may get a few extra yards from a mid- or low-compression model, you could also hit it too high with excess spin, resulting in a lack of control. Your best bet – a high-compression tour or premium model.
If you swing between 85 – 104 mph: On the higher end of this range (95 – 104 mph), a low-compression ball could create control issues. Your best bet likely lies among the mid-compression models. On the lower end (85 – 94 mph), control should be less of an issue if you pick a low-compression ball. Still, a mid-compression model could be a better fit.
If you swing slower than 85 mph: Definitely try a few low-compression golf balls. Compare them against each other, and against some mid-compression varieties. In this swing speed range, control isn’t a huge issue – but every yard matters. There are plenty of distance golf balls that could serve your needs well.
To be sure, compression isn’t the only factor affecting a golf ball’s length. Its core, cover and mantle materials have an impact, as do dimple shapes and patterns. And, just because you hit Ball A farther than Ball B doesn’t necessarily make A your best bet. You may prefer the flight and spin characteristics of B, or simply like the way it feels coming off the club.
In other words, compression isn’t the be-all, end-all of golf ball fitting. But it is a variable you should take into account.
At one point in time, the compression rating of a golf ball was printed right on the box – if not on the ball itself. Although compression isn’t the major selling point that it once was for those in the golf ball industry, it is still an important concept to understand for all golfers. Using the right golf ball for your game is a vital ingredient to playing your best. Therefore, it is worth your time to learn a little bit about compression and how it affects what you are trying to do on the course.
Basically, the ‘compression’ rating of a golf ball is a number that relates to that ball’s ability to be compressed. Low compression golf balls require less force to have their size compressed than do high compression golf balls. When you hit a golf shot, the ball is actually deformed for a fraction of a second at impact. This happens far too quickly to be seen live, but it can easily be observed with the use of a high-speed camera. The ball is ‘squished’ up against the club face before restoring to its usual round shape as it launches off into the air. If golf balls were too hard to be compressed, they wouldn’t fly very far at all – imagine hitting a rock with your club, and think about how far it would go (and how much it would hurt your hands). Golf ball compression is important because it provides the ‘spring’ that allows golfers to hit the ball 250 yards or more.
So, which is better, low compression golf balls or high compression golf balls? If only it were that easy. As you might suspect, the right golf ball for each individual is going to vary on a number of factors. Some players are going to be better served with a low compression ball, while others need to use high compression. The process of determining which ball is right for you doesn’t need to be too difficult, but it will take a little time and some critical thinking. Once you figure out which golf ball compression is going to be right for your swing and your game, you can move on to solving other problems and continuing to lower your scores.
When looking at golf ball compression ratings, it is important to understand the scale that is used. Ratings in the range of 70 and below represent softer golf balls with a low compression rating. From the 70-90 range is what would usually be considered a medium compression golf ball. High compression golf balls are those that are rated at 90 and above. It should be noted that the compression is only one aspect of the overall ‘feel’ of a golf ball, so you might not be able to tell the difference between compression ratings just by hitting a couple shots. It is possible for an 80 compression ball to feel similar to a 90 compression depending on the other characteristics of the ball.
If you are able to get a grasp on what is meant by golf ball compression ratings, and how they affect the performance of the ball, you should have an easier time picking out the right golf ball for you. Of course, it is always best to test golf balls out on the course when you have the opportunity before buying a full dozen of them to add to your bag. Use compression, along with other factors, to create a list of possible options for your game and then test them each out one by one.
As with most things in golf, the choice of golf balls between low and high compression starts with distance. There are other considerations to be made – and we will get to those later – but it starts with how far you can hit the ball, and how far you want to hit the ball. In general, lower compression means more distance. If a golf ball is easier to compress (requires less force), it is going to be easier to hit it long distances off the tee. The total equation is not that simple, but that is the basic outline of how it works. If you are currently playing a medium compression golf ball and switch to a low compression ball, you will likely see your distance increase.
You might be surprised to learn, then, that the pros actually play high compression golf balls. Why would they do that? If they want to blast it off the tee and reach the par fives in two, shouldn’t they be using a low compression ball? No. The average professional golfer doesn’t need any help hitting the ball farther than they already do, so they use high compression balls because of the control they offer. Soft golf balls can become extremely difficult to control when they are hit at high speeds, so pros use high compression balls that they can successfully manage around the course.
It comes down to a balancing act when trying to figure out which compression is going to be right for you. Maximizing distance is always appealing, but it won’t do you any good if it comes at the expense of your accuracy. You need to find that ‘sweet spot’ where you are getting good distance off the club face but the ball is still going where you expect it to (for the most part). This is very similar to the game that you have to play when picking out a shaft for your driver – soft enough to get distance, firm enough to maintain control. Technology in the way of club and ball fitting can help you answer these questions to a point, but you will also need to do some trial and error until you are sure of your decision.
The best way to start is by thinking about the ball you are using currently on the course. Find out what compression rating that ball has, and think about the performance that you have been getting from it. Are you happy with the ball flight? Do you think the distance is acceptable, or should the ball be going farther based on the swing you are making? Doing some golf ball compression comparison shopping with other balls on the market will give you the chance to try out some other models before deciding whether or not you need to switch. Remember, just like with any other equipment in your game, it will take some time to adjust to a new golf ball. If you have a club tournament or other important round coming up, it might be best to wait until after that is over to experiment with new golf balls.
As you make your way around the course, you want to pay careful attention to your ball flight to see if you can spot some signs that the compression on your golf ball is not a good match for your swing.
Following are three things to look out for as warning signs that you are playing the wrong compression.
- Lacking distance compared to your playing partners. If you are golfing regularly with the same group of friends and notice that your ball seems to fall short of theirs on a consistent basis, take a look at what golf balls they are using. Do a golf ball compression comparison between your ball of choice and theirs to see what the difference might be. It could be that they simply have a higher swing speed than you do, and therefore are outdriving you. However, if the swing speeds are similar, it could be an equipment problem.
- Ball flight that is too high. One sure sign that you are using a golf ball with a compression rating that is too low is a ball flight that climbs exceedingly high into the air. There is nothing wrong with hitting a high ball flight, but there is a limit to how high you can hit the ball productively. At some point, the extra height just means there is too much backspin on the shot, and you will be losing distance and control over the shot. When a golf ball is too soft for your swing speed, it will spin at a high rate and the results will not be desirable.
- Ball flight that is too low. At the same time, a ball that is too hard will result in a flat ball flight because you don’t possess the necessary swing speed to compress the ball properly. Some harder golf balls will lead to quickly diminishing returns for players with low swing speeds that can’t really compress the ball on the face of the club to create that spring-like effect. If your best swing leads to a shot that is low and flat flying through the air, look to find a softer golf ball that will help you create some backspin and some loft on the shot.
Once you start to suspect that your golf ball compression is wrong and it is costing you on the course, you should immediately look at alternatives that could improve performance. The best idea is to start within the same brand of golf ball that you are currently using by trying their other models. Most golf ball companies have a range of compressions within their product line, from balls meant for beginners on up to their tour-level ball. Move up or down that spectrum depending on your needs and see if that solves the problem. If there isn’t a proper choice within the product line of the current company you are using, feel free to shop around until you find something that works.
Remember that your golf ball should perform properly off of all of your clubs, not just the driver. You want to be able to hit long and straight drives off the tee as frequently as possible, but you also need to hit good iron shots with the same ball. The right choice is going to be the one that provides you with a good ball flight no matter which club you are using, or what kind of shot you are trying to hit. Simply picking the ball and the compression that gives you the most distance off the tee might not leave you with a ball that optimizes iron play performance. Again, it is a balancing act. Make sure you take all clubs into the though process before making a final choice.
The conditions where you play most of your golf should also have an influence over what kind of golf ball you use. The ideal ball flight for you is dictated in part by the conditions of the golf course that you are on – a dry, hard golf course is one where spin rate is crucial in order to control the ball after it lands. Conversely, a soft and wet golf course doesn’t require much in the way of backspin because the ball isn’t going to be bouncing or rolling after it lands anyway. As it relates to compression rating, you are going to want to pick the golf ball that offers you the right ball flight characteristics for the course you are playing at the time. You can even consider using a couple different models throughout the year as the conditions change where you live.
For most golfers, softer compression is going to equal more spin and a higher ball flight. Look in this direction if you live in a dry and warm climate where the weather is ‘golfer-friendly’ most of the year. You won’t mind launching the ball high into the air because the conditions are good, and you will appreciate the stopping power that the ball has when it comes down on the green. Playing a hard golf ball on hard conditions is going to require a specifically high club head speed in order to spin the ball enough to maintain control.
Those of you living in cooler and wetter climates want to take the opposite approach and consider using a harder ball. Most players will have a lower ball flight with a harder ball, which is helpful because cool and wet climates tend to have other adverse weather conditions to deal with on the course, such as wind. When the weather turns ugly, you want to be able to keep the ball as close to the ground as possible throughout the day.
In reference to course conditions are strategy, there are a few other tips that could benefit you when picking out the right golf ball compression for your game.
- What kind of course do you play? In addition to the weather conditions in your area, you can also think about the style of golf course that you play and what shots work best on that layout. Courses that have small, well-guarded greens will usually be best handled by high spin golf balls. For courses with large greens and plenty of room to run the ball up onto the green, a lower ball flight might be just fine.
- What style of golf you do you play? Different golfers have different styles, and the golf ball you use should match your style. If you game is based around the short game, make sure your ball choice suits your short game technique and that you are comfortable putting and chipping it. If you are a power-first type of golfer, use a ball that helps you achieve as many yards as possible off the tee.
- What are your goals in golf? The vast majority of low handicap players, along with professionals, use a high compression golf ball because of the control and versatility that they offer. If you have designs on getting your handicap down into the low single digits, consider using a high compression ball even if it isn’t optimal at first. You can work on your game and ‘grow into’ the ball over time. However, if you are just hoping to shave a couple strokes but don’t expect to ever be a low single digit handicap player, a softer ball may work just right.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to picking out a golf ball. You need to take into consideration a great number of variable, in addition to trying so different models for yourself. Only when you have reviewed all of the options on the market and thought about the kind of game you want to play will you be able to make the right choice.
The golf ball isn’t compressed on short shots around the green like it is on a full swing. Still, the feel of the golf ball is crucially important when chipping and putting. When it comes to feel around the greens, it is the cover of the golf ball that is more important than the compression. So not only do you need to find the golf ball with the right compression for your full swing, but you also need to find a ball that has the right cover for your short game touch. If you can locate both of those qualities in the same ball, you will have found the right model to use.
Most golfers are going to appreciate the feel of a soft cover more than a firm one when it comes to the short game. A soft cover will allow you to be more aggressive with your short game strokes and put a little more backspin on your chips and pitches. While this is the common preference among most golfers, you don’t have to agree if you have a different feel for your shots. Try various golf balls until you find ones that perform just right on your short shots – even if it isn’t the one that is the most popular pick among other golfers at your local course.
Try the following tests to settle on the right golf ball for your short game –
- Stopping power test. Take three different golf ball models to the practice chipping green and place them on the fairway cut of grass. Pitch each ball 10 or 15 yards onto the green and see how quickly they stop after landing. It will probably take a few trials until you can get a definitive result as to which ball spins the most for you on your pitch shots. Usually, you will want to use the ball that spins the most on these shots so you can get up and down from more places.
- Short putt test. Making short putts is often about having the right feel between your putter face and the ball. You want to be confident in how the ball is going to leave the face and roll toward the hole. Try hitting a series of short putts with each of the three different ball models you used in the test above. See which ball you can make the most putts in a row with, and which ball feels the best coming off of your putter.
- Bunker shot test. Don’t forget to evaluate how the ball is going to react when you play shots from the bunker up onto the green. Hit shots with all three golf ball models you are considering and make careful note of how the ball reacts when it lands and rolls out on the green.
None of these tests individually are going to tell you which ball you should use. Instead, you will have to take the results from all of them, along with the ball flights that you are getting, before you can pick a winner.