Choosing The Right Golf Ball: Urethane vs Ionomer

Urethane vs Ionomer; it's an important choice

Urethane vs Ionomer

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your golf ball is what type of cover you want to play, and 99% of the time this will come down to Urethane vs Ionomer

Choosing The Right Golf Ball: Urethane vs Ionomer

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing your golf ball is what type of cover you want to play, and 99% of the time this will come down to Urethane vs Ionomer, which are the two most common materials.

What is Urethane?

Urethane is a polymer that has many attributes that are beneficial for a golf ball, most notably its ability to have its toughness and hardness controlled when heat is applied. Because Urethane can be reheated and re-moulded, it allows for more precision and design flexibility.

Consequently, Urethane can be crafted for a softer feel, and so is normally found in more expensive, premium golf balls. As a result of its softness, Urethane covers should provide more strike feedback off chips and putts, which will help you hone your distance control more easily.

Unsurprisingly then, Urethane is the material of choice for balls like Titleist’s Pro V1, TaylorMade's TP5 and most of the models in our best golf balls of 2019 guide.

What is Ionomer?

Unlike Urethane, Ionomers do not maintain their strength as well when they are engineered softer, so can be less durable if designed with a soft cover. Ionomer is also cheaper to produce and feels slightly firmer, though it should still provide plenty of feel for most club golfers.

Thanks to their firmer feel, Ionomer cover balls tend to spin slightly less of the tee, helping to reduce unwanted sidespin that can cause destructive hooks and slices. Because of these characteristics, Ionomer covers usually feature on distance and two or three-piece golf balls, such as Bridgestone’s e6 and Srixon’s AD333.

Urethane vs Ionomer: Which should I choose?

Your final choice will come down to a few factors, including your budget, feel preference, and the area of your game you think needs the most help.

Starting with your budget; for most it will make little sense to spend £30+ per dozen is you lose three to five balls every round, however, if you keep one ball for 18 holes, then you will get the benefits of your investment on every shot you hit.

In terms of feel preference, it's not as cut and dry as you might think. A lot of premium balls now have firmer feeling versions that spin slightly less of the tee for players who swing faster or create excess spin. So if you like a firmer feeling ball, you're not stuck with the Ionomer covered models.

Lastly, you should evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. If you are always slicing it off the tee and need to get it play to have a chance of scoring, then a soft, high-spinning ball may do you more harm than good.

That said, if you take 90 shots it's likely that over 60 of them will be inside 150 yards, and this is the area where all that extra feel from a soft Urethane cover will really help you reduce the number of shots you take.

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Sam Tremlett
Sam Tremlett

A golfer for most of his life, Sam started playing the game to prove he was the best player out of his father and two brothers.
He quickly became a golf equipment expert and has always been the one family and friends come to for buying advice, and spends a lot of his time putting golf gear, apparel and shoes to the test.  
He is a graduate of Swansea University where he studied History and American Studies, and he has been a part of the Golf Monthly team since February 2018. He also previously worked for World Soccer and Rugby World magazines.

A jack of all trades across print and digital formats, Sam now spends most of his time testing and looking after golf gear content for the website. He also oversees all Tour player content as well. 

Unfortunately, Sam is not a member of any club at the moment but regularly gets out on the golf course to keep up the facade of having a handicap of five. 

Sam is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TS3
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade M5 (15 degrees), Nike Covert Tour 2.0 (19 degrees)
Irons (4-PW): Titleist AP2
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 54˚, 58˚
Putter: Scotty Cameron Circa 62 #6