Low Compression Golf Ball Guide

Low Compression Golf Ball Guide


If you take your golf game seriously then you’ll want to give some thought to your choice of golf ball. Just playing with any old ball you found in the woods is not going to help you improve your game. After reading this low compression golf ball guide you should be able to decide whether you should be playing with a softer golf ball.

What Is Compression?

What is golf ball compression?‘ covers this in more detail.

Simply put compression is what happens to the ball when it is struck by a golf club. The ball briefly changes shape with the side closest to the clubhead being flattened.

The compression rating of the ball tells you how easy or difficult it is to deform the ball. A ball with a low compression rating would need less force applied in order to generate the same amount of deformation compared with a medium or high compression ball.

Because ball manufacturers tend to measure golf ball compression ratings in different ways there isn’t an industry standard that would allow you to compare balls from different companies.

Usually, golf balls are described as having compression that’s rated low, medium or high. Manufacturers tend to prefer to use terms like soft feel which effectively is describing the compression since for the ball to feel soft it is usually going to be a lower compression ball.

A lower compression rating will mean more of the ball will come into contact with the face of the golf club. How well you can compress the ball will also make a difference to your choice of ball.

Ball Expert Answers Your Questions

Benefits Of Low Compression Golf Balls

Softer Feel

This is the most obvious benefit of a ball with low compression. Golf ball manufacturers have produced a wide-ranging of softer golf balls in response to the demands of the golfing public who say they prefer a softer feeling ball.

Lower Spin

Generally speaking, they will tend to spin less than higher compression golf balls. Depending on the amount of spin you currently generate then this could be a benefit.

If you generate too much being with your driver then you’re likely to lose distance. If you tend to slice or hook then using a ball that generates less spin will reduce the severity of those golf shots.

Drawbacks Of Low Compression Golf Balls

Lower Spin

It depends how much spin you currently create and how much you want to spin the ball.

If you like to shape your shots then moving to a lower compression ball might make it slightly more difficult to move the ball in the air as these balls tend to spin less than higher compression golf balls.

You won’t be able to spin the ball as much on approaches and chip shots though.

Less Distance

Testing by MyGolfSpy.com seems to show that for all clubhead speeds lower compression balls don’t go as far. The higher your clubhead speed the greater the potential distance loss.

If you change to a softer ball the reduced spin might affect how far you can carry the ball in the air. There is usually an ideal combination of launch angle and spin for a given clubhead speed that produces maximum carry.

Softer Feel

Not everyone likes the feel of a softer ball. If you have a fairly high swing speed then you might find that it feels too soft when you hit the ball.

Who Should Use Low Compression Balls?

Traditionally golf balls with low compression had been targeted at players with slower swing speed. Juniors, seniors and lady golfers were all prime candidates for this type of ball.

There is a wide range of golf balls on the market with a low compression rating. They cover the whole spectrum from tour-quality balls like the Callaway Chrome Soft down to more budget-friendly balls like the Srixon Soft Feel.

I’ve been playing golf a long time and I probably brought into the idea that softer balls were for slow swingers but having read up more on the subject I think that these balls could potentially suit anyone with the right swing parameters.

You should really play this type of golf ball if you desire softer feel or are looking for lower spin to help your launch conditions.

Who Should Use Low Compression Balls?

Myths Surrounding Low Compression Balls

Frank Simonutti has worked in golf ball design for more than a quarter of a century. Whilst working at Wilson Golf he performed some testing to show that a couple of the long-held ideas about low compression balls were actually incorrect.

Golf Balls With Low Compression Are For Slow Swing Speed Players

He compared balls at different clubhead speeds and determined that there didn’t appear to be any significant difference between the coefficient of restitution (COR). COR is a measurement of the energy retained during a collision, so that should give a good indication of the expected ball speed at each of the chosen clubhead speeds. His results suggest that there is no reason why fast or slow swingers can’t use low or high compression balls.

Golf Balls With Low Compression Are For Use In Cooler Weather

Again balls were tested at three different temperatures and it was found that those with a lower rating actually had a higher COR at all temperatures. So the performance isn’t better just at lower temperatures.

Best Low Compression Golf Balls

If you are thinking of switching balls then here are a few suggestions that you might like to test out for yourself.

Callaway Chrome Soft

The Callaway Chrome Soft is the lowest-rated tour-quality ball with a compression of 70. See the comparison with the Titleist Pro V1.

Chrome SoftPro V1
Dimple Count332388
Dimple ShapeHexagonalCircular
Comparison of Chrome Soft and Pro V1

If you want to play a tour-quality ball but would prefer a softer feeling ball then you should take a look at the Chrome Soft.

According to Callaway it is designed to provide that ideal combination of high launch and low spin with your driver while still offering greenside control. They also prefer a hexagonal dimple on this three-piece urethane ball. Compared with other premium balls it has a very low rating of 70!

Professionals tend to use high compression golf balls with a rating around 90 or more:

TitleistPro V186
Pro V1x96
Pro V1 left dot90
Pro V1x left dash102
Z-Star XV95
Z-Star Diamond95
CallawayChrome Soft X96
BridgestoneB X96
B XS84
Most Played Balls On Major Tours

If you can’t quite stomach the $50 price tag but still want something with a urethane cover then the next ball could do the trick.

Srixon Q-Star Tour

A three-piece urethane ball with a compression rating of 72 according to Srixon. It is designed to give a penetrating ball flight with its 338 dimple pattern. It is also available in the ‘Divide’ color schemes which will be easy to follow through the air than a plain white ball if your eyesight isn’t what it once was.

I’ve used this ball and found it offers good performance.

Titleist Tour Soft

If you prefer to stick with Titleist balls then you might like to check out the Titleist Tour Soft.

This is one of the softest and cheapest balls in their range. Although for a two-piece ball it is quite expensive with an RRP of $35.

It has a large core for excellent distance off the tee but still offers plenty of greenside control along with a soft feel.

Srixon Soft Feel

The Srixon Soft Feel is a budget alternative for those in need of a ball that feels soft. This is a two-piece ball with an ionomer cover so naturally won’t have the same levels of spin that you might get from the Chrome Soft or Q-Star Tour.

It usually retails for around $20 though so if you lose quite a few balls you won’t feel as much pain in your wallet. According to the manufacturer, this ball has a compression rating of 60.

Low Compression Golf Ball Guide: Conclusion

So, while they aren’t only for slow swingers there are pros and cons to using them. Like most other pieces of golf equipment, you won’t know if one is the right golf ball for you unless you try some out.

If you have access to a launch monitor then you can get very detailed results to compare or failing that you will have to test them out on your golf course.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Which golf ball has the lowest compression?

The Wilson Duo Soft has a compression of 35. This is the lowest rating of any golf ball currently on the market. It is a two-piece Surlyn-covered ball featuring 308 dimples.

In my own testing, I found that it kept up with much more expensive balls in the distance stakes.

Which Titleist golf ball has the lowest compression?

Described as having an ultra-soft feel the Titleist TruFeel is their lowest-rated ball. It features a very large 1.6-inch core to try to improve ball speed in spite of the soft feel.

In terms of Titleist balls, this is relatively cheap at $25 per dozen.

Should I use a lower compression golf ball in cold weather?

There is little if any evidence to suggest it is worthwhile changing the compression of your ball depending on the weather.

Wilson Golf’s Global Director Of Innovation explained that temperature didn’t make that much difference to the energy transfer of the ball no matter its compression.

Should I Use Soft Golf Balls?

The answer to should I use soft golf balls really comes down to whether you value feel over performance.

The main reason to use a soft ball is because you prefer the feel of that type of ball. Since lower compression balls tend to spin less then someone that generates too much spin might benefit by switching.

Testing shows that even for golfers with slow swings higher compression balls will go farther. If you want to maximize distance then a soft ball is probably not the answer.

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