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 2019 season, or looking for the perfect gift for
family/friends (or themselves)! The ball questions usually entail
specifics about this or that product, ball comparisons, distance,
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 2018 Titleist Pro V1x, a 4 Piece Tour ball has a
compression of around 95-100 (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
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ever even par round"
just wanted to pass on that over the last few weeks
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P.S. I have just received 2 dozen (name removed) golf
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