Why Are Golf Balls So Expensive?
With a dozen golf balls costing anything from $10 to $50 or more, you might have wondered why there is such a wide range of prices and why some balls are so expensive.
Let’s have a look at the reasons why you are asked to pay $4 per ball and whether you should.
What Is The Difference Between Cheap And Expensive Golf Balls?
In terms of performance, more expensive golf balls will spin more than their cheaper competitors. A Titleist Pro V1 golf ball will tend to spin more on iron shots and short game shots than a cheaper two-piece ball. It is also designed to have lower spin when used off the tee with a driver. This should help give you increased distance as you need low spin and a high launch. Better quality balls will offer a better compromise between distance, feel and spin than cheaper golf balls.
The cheapest balls tend to be the simplest to manufacture. You don’t really see one-piece golf balls sold through retail which means the cheapest option open to you is usually a two-piece ball.
This type of ball features a large core with some form of cover material. A two-piece ball is relatively simple to produce with a core moulded at high temperature and pressure from a cylindrical pellet. The cover is then fused onto the core.
The number of layers that make up the ball is the first reason why golf balls can get quite costly. Commonsense dictates that will be more difficult and therefore more expensive to make a ball comprised of three, four or five layers than it would to make a ball that is only one or two layers.
If you are making a ball with three or more layers then you are adding additional steps to the process which is going to take additional time and effort and therefore pushes up the cost.
The second reason that causes the price of golf balls to increase is the cost of the materials used in the manufacturing process. Higher quality golf balls will tend to use more expensive materials which will push up the price to the consumer.
Expensive golf balls almost always have a urethane cover since this helps achieve greater levels of spin around the green. The cover on a quality ball will tend to be thinner and therefore require better quality control processes.
Marketing is also a significant cost when talking about tour-quality golf balls. Companies like Titleist, TaylorMade and Callaway spend a lot of money on advertising their golf balls to golfers. They also spend a lot on endorsement contracts with players on the PGA Tour, European (DP World) Tour and many other professional golf tours. This quickly adds up and has to be factored into a higher retail price for the golfer.
Research and development is another big chunk of the cost involved for a golf ball manufacturer. As the market leader, Titleist holds the lion’s share of the premium golf ball market with the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. Over the years they will have spent millions of dollars on the original versions and in subsequent years trying to produce better versions of this ball.
Competitors like Bridgestone and Srixon will all have to invest heavily in R&D in an effort to produce a golf ball that will perform in a similar fashion.
Quality control will also add to the cost of producing a golf ball. Because of the increased complexity, it’s likely that more checks will take place on an expensive ball than a cheap one. Titleist for example for more than 90 checks on a Pro V1 before it leaves the factory. A Pro V1x goes through more than 120 different quality control procedures. In order to improve the consistency of their golf balls, Callaway now x-rays them before they leave the production plant to make sure that the cores are correctly centered.
Shipping costs to retail outlets will also add to the cost base. Although a relatively small percentage, it will still add something to the retail price of even cheap golf balls.
The final reason why expensive balls are quite costly is because of their desirability. The fact that your favorite pro uses that ball on tour combined with skillful marketing means that many amateurs want to play the best quality golf balls. This means that a premium price can be charged by the manufacturer.
How Much Should I Spend On Golf Balls Anyway?
There is such a wide range of golf balls on the market that you can pay almost anything up to $100 per dozen balls. First and foremost you have to look at your own financial situation in conjunction with the quality of golf that you play.
If you don’t strike the ball particularly well and lose five or six balls every round then it’s probably not worth you splashing out on Titleist Pro V1s. You might be better off sticking to cheaper two-piece balls.
Good golfers or those that want to improve would probably benefit from spending some time working out which balls would be best for their game and then worrying about the cost.
Different types of golf balls will be designed to work with slightly different swings. You might need a ball with low spin characteristics or one that gives a higher ball flight. You might want a softer golf ball or one that feels slightly firmer. You can often find a cheaper ball that may suit you but the best all-around golf balls will tend to be the more expensive ones.
Kirkland Golf the in-house Costco brand had great success recently with their signature performance ball. Whilst not totally comparable with a Titleist Pro V1 it was a very cheap way to play a urethane-covered golf ball since they cost around $1.50 per ball.
Are Lake Balls And Refurbished Balls Any Good?
Lake or found balls can be a good option if you want to play with a top-quality ball but struggle to justify the cost of buying them brand-new. Depending on the quality you’ll likely pay between a third and two-thirds of the normal retail price for the ball. That means you might pick up some Callaway Chrome Soft or TaylorMade TP5 balls for as little as $15 a dozen. However, at that price, they probably wouldn’t be in great nick and only be useful for practice.
In order to get some decent-quality examples, you’ll probably be looking at $25-$30. I think that’s starting to get a bit pricey for used balls though!
Refurbished golf balls can be a bit of a minefield and are probably best left alone.
Can I Get Quality Balls Below MSRP Or RRP?
If you’re looking to get a discount on high-end golf balls like the Titleist Pro V1x then there are a few ways that you might be able to get the best of all technology without forking over so much cash.
Most online golf stores will be cheaper than retail outlets in particular pro shops. However down to get to factor in any delivery charges before placing your order.
Another option is to purchase discontinued models. The main manufacturers tend to bring out new versions of their products every couple of years. This means there’ll always be older versions of the ball available sometimes at quite big discounts. For the vast majority of people the difference between the current generation of a ball and its previous version isn’t really going to be noticeable in their scores.
You can also get some decent price reductions if you look for logo overrun balls. These are standard golf balls that have had company logos printed on them that are now surplus to requirements and get sold off usually at a hefty discount. I tend to buy Srixon Z-Star balls this way.
Why Are Golf Balls So Expensive: Conclusion
So, between the production costs, materials, marketing, desirability and shipping it easy to see how you can end up paying $50 a dozen. With direct-to-consumer brands like Snell selling a Pro V1 equivalent for $35 though, you can see how big a chunk of your money is going towards marketing and endorsements.
Better players will no doubt find a way to source their favorite ball no matter what the cost. Beginners and high handicappers should probably take a look at some cheaper options especially if they are still at the stage where they lose a lot balls.
Here are the reasons why you might be better off playing a premium ball.