The Pros and Cons of Low Compression Golf Balls
Many beginner golfers will be unaware of the choices available when buying golf balls. However, much like buying a new driver or putter, the range of golf balls on offer is huge and the ball purchased can have a massive impact on your game.
One type of golf ball available is a low compression golf ball. As with any golf ball on the market, low compression golf balls have both pros and cons for players.
The pros of using low compression golf balls are the longer distance which is achievable and the increased rate of spin. Some soft compression golf balls also offer more feel and that means more control when playing short shots around the green.
However, there are some cons when using low compression golf balls. These include too much spin, being too soft around the greens and a ‘squishy’ feel when contacting the face of the club.
Before we take a look at the pros and cons of low compression golf balls in more detail, we first need to take a look at exactly what a low compression golf ball is and how it differs from other golf balls.
To do that, we need a simple understanding of what we mean by ‘golf ball compression’.
What is Golf Ball Compression?
Golf ball compression is basically the density in the golf ball and this density has an impact on the flight and loft of the ball. The density is measured by the tightness of the threads inside the golf ball and the more loosely the threads are wound, the lower the compression of the golf ball.
A golf ball is compressed when hit by the club. This softer the golf ball, the lower the compression and you will often hear low compression balls being discussed as ‘soft golf balls’.
Golf balls come with a rating and anything rated 80 or below is considered a low compression golf ball but what types of low compression golf balls are available to purchase?
Types of Low Compression Golf Balls
Many of the low compression golf balls you will find for sale in stores or online will come with a two-piece construction.
Two-Piece Low Compression Golf Ball
Two-piece golf balls are designed to maximize distance and reduce spin and you can see the first of these benefits falls in-line with low compression golf balls. If you are a novice golfer and want to gain as much distance off the tee as possible but reduce side spin to prevent a slice shot, you would opt for a two-piece golf ball.
Two-piece low compression golf balls tend to last longer than other low compression balls and cost less. Therefore, a two-piece low compression golf ball is the perfect place to start for new golfers.
Three-Piece Low Compression Golf Ball
A three-piece golf ball does not offer the same amount of distance off the tee as a two-piece ball but does offer more control around the green. These are aimed at the improving golfer, who wants more spin on iron shots but is happy with their distance with the driver.
If you have a slow swing speed but consider yourself to be a good golfer, you should opt for a three-piece low compression golf ball. The soft rubber core is good for distance but the urethane cover can provide more spin and control around the green.
Urethane Low Compression Golf Ball
If you want more control over your shots but have a slow swing speed, a low compression golf ball with a urethane cover is a good choice. However, keep in mind these are more expensive than the basic two-piece low compression golf ball and have a shorter shelf life.
The Benefits of Low Compression Golf Balls
There are three main benefits of using low compression golf balls and you will find each of them listed below. While reading through them, consider your own game and think about how a low compression golf ball could be suitable for you.
1) Distance off the tee is a major factor when playing golf. Many of the modern golf courses are very long and while they will have a choice of tee boxes, some players, especially beginners or those with a slow swing speed, will struggle to hit the ball a competitive distance. Regardless of whether you are playing in a tournament, against a friend or on your own, you are going to struggle to make a par or better on par-4 and par-5 holes if you cannot reach the minimum distance required to find the green in regulation. Low compression golf balls are easier to compress at impact with the driver and that means there is a greater energy released on the ball. This in turn sees the ball travel farther than golf balls with a higher compression. Other factors, such as hitting the ball in the sweet spot of the driver come into play but if you are struggling for distance on the course, a low compression golf ball should help.
2) In addition to the increased distance, you will often find a low compression golf ball has a higher spin rate. Having more spin on the ball can help you to hit it higher, so if you have been struggling to get the ball into the air, using a low compression golf ball could be helpful. A higher spin rate also means you can stop the golf ball quicker when it lands on the green. For many novice and amateur golf balls, seeing the ball land on the green only to bounce and roll off the putting surface is very frustrating. Using a low compression golf ball can help to control the ball when it lands on the putting surface. However, there a couple of things to be aware of when it comes to the increased spin of a low compression golf ball and we will come to those shortly.
3) The third and final major benefit of using a low compression golf ball is the soft feel some of them can provide. It pays to keep in mind that not all low compression golf balls will have a soft feel but many do.Why would you want your golf ball to have a soft feel? When playing shots close to the green, your touch and feel when hitting the shot is key to how well you play the shot. Having a golf ball with a soft feel means you can control the ball easier and this opens an array of shots which may not be available with a firmer ball.The best advice here, is to try a few different low compression golf balls and see which one offers the best balance of distance, spin and feel for your style of play.
The Potential Drawbacks of Using Low Compression Golf Balls
As with every piece of golfing equipment or anything you purchase, whether it be a new computer or car, there are always going to be pros and cons. The same applies to low compression golf balls and below we have detailed some of the potential drawbacks you must be aware of when using these balls.
1) The amount of spin which can build on a low compression golf ball during a shot can be too much for some players. If the ball is generating too much spin, it will travel up in the air and while that is great for some additional loft when required, too much spin will lead to a loss of distance.If you choose to play with a low compression golf ball, the overriding factor is likely to be the added distance so to lose this would make using the ball pointless. You must also take the weather conditions into account and a ball which is spinning a lot is not going to be of any use on a windy day. We will talk more about the impact of the weather on a low compression golf ball later.
2) Low compression golf balls can sometimes feel spongy on the face of the club and some players dislike that feeling. Liking the way your golf ball feels when contacting the golf club is hugely important and very much a personal thing. The only way you know if you like the feel of a low compression ball is to try using one. Some players find it difficult to control because they cannot feel the impact of a soft compression ball on the club face like they can a firmer golf ball and this results in a lack of confidence in the direction of the shot. However, as highlighted above, this is not a criticism of low compression golf balls and is more a personal taste than anything else.
3) Much like the spin rate of the ball discussed above, the soft feel of a low compression ball may be too much for some players around the green. Having control of shots around the green is very important but for some golfers, having a ball which feels too soft is going to become a hindrance and this can lead to loss of control on both chip shots and putts. Again, this is more of personal preference thing and the only way players know for sure is to try playing shots on and around the green using a low compression ball and recording the results.
Why Use Low Compression Golf Balls?
Having highlighted the types of low compression golf balls available, what compression means for golf balls and the pros and cons of low compression golf balls, it is time to look at the reasons why you would use low compression golf balls.
Arguably the main reason to use a low compression golf ball is due to a lack of swing speed. Basically, when playing golf, the faster the swing speed, the easier it is to hit the ball farther. A player with a slow swing speed will find it more difficult to hit the ball a long way and that’s where the low compression golf ball comes into play.
Regardless of your playing ability and golf handicap, if you have a slow swing speed you need a different way of generating distance on your shots. The transfer of energy from the clubhead to the ball is more efficient in a low compression golf ball than any other style of ball available.
In addition, players who like using a softer ball could also choose to play with a low compression golf ball. As a low compression ball squeezes more at impact than other styles of golf ball, it gives a softer feel and this is perfect for more control when playing chip shots and putting.
With that in mind, which players should be using low compression golf balls?
Who Should Play with Low Compression Golf Balls?
Low compression golf balls are suitable for different types of players, continue below to see various players who are suited to using a low compression golf ball.
Creative Short Game Players
If you are a player who enjoys being creative with your shots around the green, using a low compression golf ball could be a good idea. The soft feel of low compression golf balls will allow you to stop the ball more quickly on the green and this is a must if you are trying various styles of shot.
The same applies when putting. Some players prefer a heightened sense of feel during their putting stroke and a low compression golf ball will provide more feel on the face of the putter than other forms of golf ball.
For beginner golfers, using a low compression golf ball can be a great place to start. It will help you achieve more distance off the tee than most other types of golf ball and this helps to avoid new players becoming disheartened at the length they are finding with the driver. While the soft feel may not be ideal for beginner players around the green, there is always going to be a compromise somewhere and for those new to golf who lack distance off the tee, a low compression golf ball is a great option.
Players with Slow Swing Speeds
Players who have a slow swing speed, which is sometimes the case with beginners working on their technique, should also consider using low compression golf balls. The extra energy produced by the compression of the golf ball will make up for some of the speed lost on the swing and produce more distance on the shot.
As golfers get older, their bodies change and this can lead to less strength and power. Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life but it should not stop older players from enjoying a round of golf and low compression golf balls are very useful for senior players. Much like the category above, senior players will see a reduction in swing speed and low compression golf balls help to hit the ball further than other types of golf ball.
However, using low compression golf balls rather than rock hard golf balls will also provide plenty of control around the green, which makes them a top pick for senior golfers.
Does the Weather Affect Low Compression Golf Balls?
If you have ever played golf in both warm and cold conditions, you will have noticed the ball does not travel as far in cold conditions. As cold air is denser than warm air, this results in drag on the ball and essentially the golf ball has to work harder to get through the air. In addition, the compression of the ball can increase slightly and this will make the ball a little firmer.
So, what does all that mean for low compression golf balls?
Some golfers will opt to use a lower compression golf ball than usual when the weather is cold. As the ball will become a little firmer in the cold conditions, it will closely resemble the golf ball used in warmer conditions. Due to the nature of a low compression golf ball, as discussed above, a lower compression golf ball will see the ball travel farther in cold weather.
Even professional golfers will sometimes opt to use a low compression golf ball in cold temperatures. It can travel farther than other types of golf ball yet still offer control on and around the green.
Phil Mickelson is an example of a professional golfer who has used a low compression golf ball to combat cold playing conditions.