Soft vs Hard Golf Balls: Which Should You Use?

If you are new to golfing and are confused about what types of golf ball to use, then this article is for you. We’ve put together a list of questions and answers to help you figure out what kind of golf ball is best for your level of play. Keep reading to learn more!

The Difference Between a Soft Ball and a Hard Ball

Most golfers won’t feel major differences between soft and hard golf balls. The distance and angle are seen to be pretty close in terms of performance. The biggest difference lies in the feel of the ball when you hit it. Durability on firmer balls and the spin rate when using a longer iron are also factors to consider.

However, it is important to note that the firmness or softness of a golf ball doesn’t necessarily help you choose the right one for your skill level. Knowing how fast you swing, the type of club you use, and your accuracy on shots is more important. Understanding these factors will give you more insight as to which type of ball is suitable for you.

Going Over Each Factor to Consider

More often than not, an average golf player will opt to use a softer golf ball. This is due to soft golf balls having lower compression ratings, which help them to compress better on contact. It allows you to go faster for longer distances while also providing a straighter and better shot feeling when you hit the ball.

On the other hand, a higher-handicapped golfer will benefit more from using hard golf balls. This is because they are more durable and can spin the ball when hit with longer irons. Longer irons will require more speed for them to be able to achieve distance, which hard golf balls provide. Hard golf balls also help to reduce sidespin, leading to straighter and more accurate shots.

Another factor to consider is the type of club you are using. If you’re using a higher-lofted iron, a softer golf ball will give you more control. On the other hand, if you are using lower-lofted irons, then hard golf balls can provide more distance and spin.

To give you a better idea, a normal golfer has an average swing of a little over 90 mph. This means that a soft golf ball would be the better option. For golfers who swing at around 100 mph or more, then hard golf balls are recommended. The normal logic for how to select a golf ball is to go for hard golf balls if you swing fast, and soft golf balls when you swing at a slower speed.

Another way to put this is that when you are using a softball and you happen to swing around 100 mph, the feeling when you hit the golf ball is somehow similar to hitting a sponge due to its softness. On the other hand, a hardball will give you more feedback on your swing and provide more distance when hit with a high speed.

Also, if you happen to use a firmer golf ball and you are swinging around 90 mph, the feeling when you make contact is quite solid, which is not ideal for some golfers.

The spin rate is also one of the factors to consider when selecting the right golf ball. Firmer golf balls, when hit with an iron or driver, tend to have higher spin rates. That means that they provide more backspin, causing the ball to stay in the air longer and travel further distances.

Difference #1: Driver Comparison

Soft balls tend to launch higher

When it comes to drivers, soft golf balls will generally give you a greater launch angle as compared to hard balls. This is due to the compression of the soft ball on impact, which allows it to launch higher.

Hard golf balls have extra side-to-side spin

Hard golf balls, on the other hand, will generally have more side-to-side spin as compared to soft golf balls. This helps you achieve a straight shot and reduce sidespin. If you are a high-handicap golfer, this is helpful as it can lead to straighter shots and more distance.

The distance between the two is fairly identical

Even though soft and hard golf balls have different benefits, there isn’t much difference in distance between them. Both soft and hard golf balls can travel a good distance when hit correctly, so when it comes to driver shots, the difference between them is not that drastic.

Difference #2: Iron Comparison

Almost identical launch angle

The height of the launch angle between soft and hard golf balls is almost identical when using irons. This is likely because the loft of the iron will limit the height of the ball at launch.

Soft golf balls have more spin control

The difference between soft and hard golf balls when using irons lies in their spin control. Soft golf balls tend to have better spin control as compared to hard ones, allowing you to place your shots with greater accuracy.

Distance between the two is minimal

As with drivers, the difference in distance between soft and hard golf balls when using irons is minimal. Both types of balls can travel a good distance when struck correctly, so the type of ball you choose won’t have much impact on your iron shots.

Difference #3: Wedge Comparison

The launch angle is very similar

For those using wedges, the launch angle for both soft and hard golf balls is very similar. This is likely due to the loft of the wedge, which limits the height at which the ball can be launched. The height isn’t important when using wedges, as the goal is usually to land the ball close to the hole.

Soft golf balls have more spin control

When it comes to wedge shots, soft golf balls have better spin control than hard ones. This allows for more accurate placement of shots and a greater chance of landing the ball close to where you want it. Compared to iron and driver shots, spin control is more important when using wedges.

Distance between the two is minimal

The difference in distance between soft and hard golf balls when using wedges is also minimal. The type of ball you choose will not have much impact on your wedge shots, so if you’re looking for consistency and accuracy, soft golf balls are the better option.

Which Golf Ball Is Best for Average Golfers?

Now that we have discussed the differences between soft and hard golf balls, let’s answer the question of which one is best for average golfers. In general, a two- or three-piece ball is the best golf ball for an average golf player. These balls are typically soft, provide more spin control, and still maintain a good distance. They are also durable enough to last through multiple rounds of golf.

Aside from the benefits, you won’t find a major difference in performance when you use other types of balls. They are also cheaper compared to tour-level balls, so they are a great choice for those new to golf. Since you are probably going to lose quite a few balls, you don’t want to invest a lot of money in golf balls that don’t really matter in terms of performance.

Another good signal for choosing soft golf balls is that most professional golfers use them as well, so why not give them a try? On average, 55% of professionals use soft golf balls, while the other 45% prefer hard golf balls.

Can a Golf Ball Be Both Soft and Hard?

This can be a confusing question for some people as it seems contradictory, but the answer is yes, a golf ball can be both soft and hard. Almost all golf balls are marketed to have a soft feel, regardless of the compression. However, this doesn’t mean that they necessarily perform differently. It just means that the golf ball will feel softer when you hit it.

The best example is the Pro V1. This is a relatively hard ball overall, but the feel is quite soft due to the compression and cover design. The cover of the ball plays a huge role in how it feels when hit, which is why it can feel soft despite having hard compression. High-end golf balls are commonly seen with a urethane cover, which provides more feel and spin, especially around the greens. So to answer the question, yes, a golf ball can be both soft and hard.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to choosing the right golf ball, soft or hard, it’s a personal decision. The type of ball you use will depend on your skill level and preferences.

For high handicap golfers, using two- or three-piece soft golf balls can be beneficial as it provides more spin control and allows for better accuracy when hitting shots. Professional golfers usually prefer soft golf balls due to the spin and feel around the greens. However, some will still use hard golf balls, depending on their personal preference and style of play.

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