FEMALE GOLFERS USE DIFFERENT CLUBS THAN THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS, which makes sense when you consider the physical differences. But what about golf balls? Unlike clubs (and people), they’re all the same size.
Is there any real advantage to playing a ball that’s specifically geared toward a woman’s game?
Most manufacturers say yes. Callaway, Nike and Srixon are among those who make women’s golf ball models. On the other hand, heavyweights TaylorMade and Titleist do not. In fact, the latter company proudly boasts, “Every Titleist golf ball is designed for women. The golf ball doesn’t know who is hitting it.”
Hard to argue with that. Of course, Titleist is pretty much out there on its own with this statement: “Ball fitting for swing speed is a myth.”
Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. But the general consensus is that golfers with slower swing speeds drive farther when using a low-compression ball vs. one with high compression. Hence, most amateurs are advised not to play so-called “tour” category balls, like the Titleist ProV1 or Bridgestone Tour B330, unless they swing the driver at least 105 mph. Very few women amateurs can achieve such speed, with most averaging in the 60 – 75 mph range (about one-third slower than the average male).
The bottom line on compression: Playing a lower-compression ball is unlikely to hurt your game, and it may well help. Any ball labeled “Lady’s” or “Women’s” should fit the bill, while men’s models like the Wilson Staff Zip and DUO, Bridgestone e6 and Titleist NXT Tour S offer similar qualities.
That said, even the perfect ball for your swing speed isn’t likely to add more than a few yards to your tee shots. So what else should women look for when choosing a golf ball? Here’s a brief checklist.
1. Short game control: While many golfers (especially men) obsess over their driving distance, far more shots are taken within 50 yards of the hole than off the tee. Therefore, a ball that delivers optimum spin around the greens improves your chances of getting your chips, pitches and bunker shots close to the hole.
Balls with urethane covers and multi-layer construction typically offer the most greenside spin, but also tend to be more expensive and higher in compression. Most women’s models feature thin surlyn covers and two-piece construction, but still deliver adequate or better spin.
2. Approach shot stopping power: A ball that performs well around the greens is likely to excel in this category, too. Since women typically hit their shots lower and with less spin than men, it’s crucial that the ball delivers enough backspin to stop quickly when it hits the green.
3. High trajectory: The slower your swing, the more difficult it is to get your drives and approach shots up in the air. A higher ball flight can increase your distance and control. Research which balls (women’s or men’s) generate a lofty trajectory; this is often a function of specially designed dimples and dimple patterns.
4. Feel: This is the most subjective criteria in ball selection, but it can have a big impact on how you play. Some golfers like an extremely soft feeling ball, while others prefer a firmer sensation at impact. Playing a ball that feels “right” can inspire confidence – and we all know how important that is on the golf course.
5. Accuracy: With their slower swing speeds, women are less prone to hit shots wildly off line (i.e. big hooks or slices). Still, it’s best to play a ball that reduces sidespin and enhances accuracy.
6. Color: You may think this criteria would be strictly a matter of taste, too. But brightly colored balls are not only easier to find in different light conditions, rough and woods, many golfers are better able to follow the flight of a colored ball. Different companies offer different options, including yellow, orange, green and, yes, pink.
7. Price: Most women’s golf ball models are priced at $20 or less per dozen, making them a relative bargain. (Men’s versions comprise a much wider range, anywhere from $10 - $50 a dozen.) Women tend to lose fewer golf balls and abuse them less, getting more bang for the buck from each pack. Obviously, only you can decide how much you’re willing to spend.
Since virtually every ball on the market claims to boost driving distance, deliver greenside control and approach-shot spin, fly straight as an arrow and feel better than a Swedish massage, your best bet is to read first-person reviews, seek opinions from your fellow golfers and, most importantly, try different models to find the one that works best with your swing.
Happy hunting, ladies.