Instant Golf® Special
Ball Compression from Low to High (vs. hardness)
Robert Cotter (About
Golf Ball Engineer
of Golf Swing Instruction, Instant Golf®
receive a lot of questions about golf balls this time of year
from golfers who are stocking up in preparation
for a great 2017 season. The ball questions usually entail specifics
this or that product, ball comparisons, distance, specs,
such golfer recently wrote in looking for information on golf
ball compressions as he likes a "softer" golf
ball, but still wanted excellent distance.
this report I thought I would explain the difference between
Golf Ball Compression vs. Hardness as they are
2 important ball characteristics, and they are often confused.
you have been playing this game for any period of time, you may
remember the days when many golf balls came in both 90
and 100 compressions for a given model.
the 90 low compression golf balls were stamped
with red numbers and the 100's with black. To the right is a
with a red number 3.
100 compression model would have had a black number. There is
also a "side stamp" on both balls designating either
90 or 100 (compression).
ball compression can be defined as the relative resistance of
the ball to being deformed. It is also related to the firmness
of the ball's core and COR (coefficient of restitution). This
comparative value is determined with a finely tuned compression
testing gauge similar
is important to note that the United States Golf Association
(USGA) does not have a standard for golf ball compression.
Hence, there is no minimum or maximum value a ball must exhibit
to be considered legal. So it is important to note that:
Ball Compression is a Relative Measurement!
one manufacturer may have a 95 compression
golf ball (by their measurements) that is actually firmer than
another company's 85 compression golf ball!
is one of the reasons manufacturers seldom advertise or list
their golf ball compressions these days. It also can give the
consumer another data point with which they can rule out a buying
one product or another. Typically they will use expressions like
"low compression construction" vs. a number value.
what about Golf Ball Hardness? Hardness is actually
a property of the cover of the golf ball. There are specific
standards for hardness and different measurement scales. Golf
balls are measured using the "Shore D" scale.
gauges like the one on the right have a small metal point that
is used to puncture just the cover of the golf ball (through
the paint). A resultant cover hardness value may something like
"60 Shore D" (not to be confused with 60 compression!).
gauges are highly calibrated and often linked to computers for
data transfer. These are very precise instruments and require
a lot of data points (measurements) for a meaningful hardness
have spent many hours measuring the compression and hardness
of golf balls in the ball industry...
it is eye opening.
the Compression vs. Hardness Story gets Real Interesting...
of the low compression balls out there actually have very
hard covers! So they may feel soft off the
driver or irons, but like "rocks" off the putter.
driver and long irons/hybrids engage more of the core when a
golfer strikes the ball, so the player is experiencing and sensing
the properties of the core.
with chipping and especially putting, the golfer
feels the hardness of the cover (hence, less of the core) as
the strike is a low velocity impact.
of those great low compression golf balls (2
piece - a cover and core) designed for the lower or moderate
swing speeds actually have harder covers
as a low compression/soft cover golf ball would typically be
a formula for short drives and excessive spin (i.e. ballooning).
would want that situation on the course.
the other hand, the "Tour" balls the Pro's use (3 to 5 piece
constructions) have very soft covers (urethane rubber vs. plastic)
for that "drop and stop" action on the greens the top players
However, these Tour balls can also be quite firm (high
instance the 2016 Titleist Pro V1x, a 4 Piece Tour ball has a
compression of around 95 (rather high by today's standards),
but a very
soft cover for high spin on the approach shots.
Tour pros have very high swing and ball speeds so a firm construction
COR core is
one way to help optimize distance.
The ball's other layers also help reduce side spin (hook, slice,
ball like the
Wilson Duo and its 29 compression construction (yes, not a misprint)
with a soft plastic (not urethane rubber) has a different target
audience and is optimized for golfers with
speeds, launch angles, side spin issues.
a jungle out there with all those different constructions, cover
materials, mantle layers, mind boggling dimple
patterns, etc... and the well-intended golfer can easily get confused.
help with your Golf Ball Selection...
a US Patent Award winning golf ball engineer, I've worked knee
deep in golf ball technology for years, developing
new ball designs, and then matching the finished product to the
correct recreational and professional golfers based on their personal
needs and equipment parameters.
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Story - From the 100's to the 70's after a lengthy,
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fact, the following is a note typical of the type that hit
my inbox all week. It is genuine and unsolicited:
ever even par round"
just wanted to pass on that over the last few weeks
I have being playing better and better, until the peak
which was just yesterday.
played at a local course and for the first time in
my life I shot under 80, and not just
under. I hit 38, 36. A day of firsts, first
ever even par round, first time in the 70's, 4 birdies,
just an all round amazing result.
owe a fair bit of it to you as I am adhering strictly
to your teaching.
Thanks again and best regards,
N. - Maylasia
P.S. I have just received 2 dozen (name removed) golf
balls, the ball you recommended for my game (although the score yesterday
was with a (name removed), needless to
say I'm starting to love this ball quite a lot) and the next time out
I intend to try this ball. I'll check in with you early in the new
year to see if there is anything else that you recommend."
instruction clears the head"
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I hit the ball well & hit what I was aiming at
most of the time that is not the reason for this reply.
the first time in my 40 years of golf I felt & knew
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short, thank you - I now have the new sensation of
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started a skeptic who expected the same rehash
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V. - Australia
day, dramatic improvement... Nice going Peter.
get notes like these all the time. It doesn't matter whether
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stunning, unbelievable is all I can say."
you will by my e.mail address above I purchased
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Brilliant, stunning, unbelievable is all
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you so much for your prompt reply and superb
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the ‘Key’ again, just to refresh
and keep the practice going to improve even
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a 41! My best of the year"
about a testimonial... Your
Readers would not believe this. Read
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Note: (this gentleman is 72 years young)
best golf book I have ever read"
you so much for your comprehensive response
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job! And I’ll be recommending you to
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