A Golf Ball for Every Condition?


With the advanced technology in golf balls today, would it be helpful to a golfer to change golf balls on the tee, depending on layout of hole or other conditions?

For example.  If a golfer was playing a par 3 with a shallow green, it may be advantageous to use a ball with more spin to better hold the green.  Yet, if the upcoming hole were a par 4 or par 5, it may be better to use a ball with less spin to increase distance off the driver?  Of course, the golfer would have to finish the hole with the same ball, regardless of conditions.  Myself, I find a ball I like and then use it for every shot, regardless of conditions.  I was just wondering if changing the type of ball during a round would be a good (or bad) idea.




What you suggest was a concern to me and the USGA in 1977 when Arnold Palmer – and many other elite players– were observed using a different ball construction on different holes depending on the hole characteristics.

This certainly made a difference when we had wound balls with liquid centers and Balata covers; wound balls with solid rubber cores and Surlyn low spin hard durable covers; and solid two piece distance balls with durable low spin covers. They certainly performed differently.

The concern was that permitting this to continue, would lead to ball specialization designed with different performance characteristics.  This was the start of a slippery slope and not a good path to follow for numerous reasons, so we proposed introducing a One-Ball rule (Condition of Competition) for tournament play. This was quickly adopted by the PGA Tour and at all USGA competitions.

Don, in 1977 there was so much difference between ball performance — depending on the type and construction — that it certainly made sense to change the ball to suit the conditions, be they hole characteristics or weather conditions. However, today the performance differences are not as great and as an amateur golfer, I would not propose you try to switch balls for different conditions. This will just add another source of angst – having to decide which ball to use — to our already cluttered mind when we should be focused on keeping things simple and hitting the ball, NOT worrying about which ball to hit.

Any advantage we might get from doing this will be more psychological than anything else and will certainly add to the potential to detrimentally affect your game.

On the PGA Tour and other elite events, however, this may not be the case, so the one-ball –rule (Condition of Competition) will be around for some time.

Hope this helps


4 thoughts on “A Golf Ball for Every Condition?

  1. How about simply choosing a ball that’s best for your “natural” putting stroke, for best control of lag-putt distance?

  2. I normally play a Pro V1, or similar ball. On windy days I will pull out a Pro V1X, a harder ball with less spin. I find this reduces the amount a shot will “balloon” into the wind, and slice or hook in a cross wind. My distances are a little,different between the two balls, but it is windy anyway, so distance is more a matter of feel than it is science.

    Around the green I don’t see much difference between the two balls. Itmis only on full shots, especially woods and hybrids, where the reduced spin seems to have a positive effect.

  3. I play municipal golf with water on several holes. I just love seeing other players dig out the balls with racing stripes that they stole from the range. This is not about ball performance, it indicates absolutely no confidence, larceny, and a definite lack of class. I normally play one type of ball throughout a round. If I change balls continually I always start to second guess shots: Would that shot have played the same with the other ball – or would the next putt have the same break with this ball? I identify with the comment about decreasing the clutter in the mind.

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