What Golf Ball Should You Play?

Carly Frost offers advice on how to pick a golf ball to suit your game and why female-specific golf balls are not always the right choice

What Golf Ball To Play
(Image credit: Carly Frost)

As a single figure golfer and with many years of expertise, one of the questions I get asked frequently by fellow women players is, "What golf ball should I use?" The answer is simple: you should choose a ball that you like and stick with it.

The latter point is the most important in my opinion. Using the same golf ball for the entire round (or indeed season) means that you get used to its feel and performance. You get consistency off the putter face, you know how hard to hit your lag putts, and you know how much it is likely to spin and stop on chip shots. You know (or you quickly learn) your distances with every club in the bag. I’m always staggered at how many women use whatever ball they find in their bag, a random brand, a random model. When they lose it, a completely different ball gets picked out of the ball pocket to replace it. If you’re this player, you are really putting yourself at a disadvantage over the savvy lady who knows that sticking to a make and model of ball for the minimum of an entire round is beneficial.

What Golf Ball To Play

Don't use whatever ball you find in your bag

(Image credit: Carly Frost)

So how do go about picking the best golf ball for your round? If you are serious about golf and really want to play better then you have probably invested in a set of custom-fit clubs (or are at least considering doing so.) A custom fitter will include the golf ball in your fit, showing what ball works best for your swing type - clubhead speed, launch requirements, feel and spin preference etc. We all have different needs. Perhaps you are a slow swinger who, first and foremost, needs a distance boost. Maybe you slice the ball and need something to help counteract the effects of cut spin? Or maybe your golf ball priorities lie in the short game department, you want to improve the spin control with a wedge.

Ultimately the golf ball has to be right for you. If you don’t have the time or the budget to get custom-fit but want to stick to the one-ball policy, then you can also choose one by trial and error. I suggest that you test a selection of different golf balls. Buy a sleeve of three of each ball that you like the look of and take them to the putting green first, then chip them. Do you like the feel? Is the ball easy to aim? Does it give you plenty of spin and stop, checking up on your chip shots? Then play a few holes with it. Is the ball easy to spot from the tee? Do you notice any difference to your ball flight height? Does it go any further?

What Golf Ball To Play

(Image credit: Carly Frost)

Now for the age-old myth: women should only play women’s golf balls. This is a total nonsense and is like suggesting we should all wear high heels and a dress! The reason women’s balls exist is to cater for a very general cross-spectrum. The average woman golfer swings slower than the average man (by about 20 percent according to Titleist TrackMan estimates). But all equipment purchases should start with the individual, and all women are definitely not alike.

Typically, the balls labelled women’s are lower-compression, softer feeling two-piece (core and cover) balls that launch higher and have less overall spin, so will fly straighter. But there is absolutely no reason why these golf balls are only suited to women, in fact I think that most women’s balls are a brilliant choice for seniors and juniors.

What Golf Ball To Play

(Image credit: Carly Frost)

Equally women’s balls sold on their soft feel alone are technically doing you no real favours. In reality, although softer may feel better, unless it is combined with a sophisticated multilayer construction (including a urethane cover), it’s unlikely to help you around the greens with better spin.

Titleist is a brand that is definitely keen to push this message. There’s no such thing as a women’s Titleist ball. Just many models to suit lots of different player types, male and female, old and young, with different budgets and different preferences. I myself have been a long-time Titleist Pro VIx player, yet many women I play with don’t think they are good enough to use the much coveted Pro VI, which is not the case. It delivers brilliant tee-to-green performance for a wide spectrum of players.

As a rough guide, I’ve put together a check-list of things you should consider when choosing a golf ball below.

Do You Know Your Swing Speed?

This is a critical factor. The slower you swing the more spin you need. A higher compression golf ball that leaves the face faster will give you more distance.

Looks

Plain or patterned? Coloured or white? Visibility preference is important. I am a traditionalist who doesn’t like to look at clutter when I’m putting. A simple white golf ball with an aim line is all I want to use. But from time-to-time I do find a coloured golf ball (like a high-vis yellow ball) easier to spot. I can also see the benefit of fancier balls with more complex alignment markings, or patterns that make them easier to identify in the rough or fairway alongside those of your playing partners.

What Golf Ball To Play

(Image credit: Carly Frost)

Ball Flight Height

For simplicity focus on the height of your iron shots. If your 7-iron shots don’t fly higher than a roof on a two-story house, find a ball that helps increase that height. A multilayer urethane cover ball will spin more, creating more lift and more height.

Compression

This is how effectively the ball compresses off the club face when struck. It determines how fast it leaves the face, how high, how it feels. Typically, women’s golf balls tend to have low compression ratings so that slower swinging players can achieve sufficient compression for optimal distance and launch.

Your Strength

How strong are you? If we took a cross section of women golfers most would have less upper body strength than men. As a result, you are not able to generate as much clubhead speed. In fact, the average swing speed of a woman is about 20 mph lower than the average man.

What Golf Ball To Play

(Image credit: Carly Frost)

Your Handicap/Ability
A beginner that isn’t skilful enough yet to execute an array of shots around the green will get all she needs from a lower cost low-compression, two-piece ball. Don’t graduate to a more sophisticated design based on your swing speed, but rather your technique and ability.

Due to the sheer number of golf balls on the market, choosing the right ball can be an overwhelmingly experience. Yet aside from the packaging and marketing (especially the name) in my opinion the golf ball should be the least gender-specific piece of golf equipment we use. The right ball for you could easily be the same for your husband. And vice versa.

Remember, the golf ball is the only piece of equipment you use on every single shot, so pick it wisely - it is crucial to your success!

 

Carly Frost
Golf Monthly Contributor

Carly Frost is one of the golf industry’s best-known female writers, having worked for golf magazines for over 20 years. As a consistent three-handicapper who plays competitive club golf at Parkstone and the Isle of Purbeck courses in Dorset every week, Carly is well-versed in what lady golfers love. Her passion for golf and skill at writing combine to give her an unbeatable insight into the ladies game.  

Carly’s role at Golf Monthly is to help deliver thorough and accurate ladies equipment reviews, buying advice and comparisons to help you find exactly what you are looking for. So whether it’s the latest driver, set of irons, golf ball, pair of shoes or even an outfit, Carly will help you decide what to buy.
Over the years Carly has been fortunate to play some of the greatest courses in the world. Her view ‘from the ladies tee’ is invaluable. She ranks Sea Island, Georgia, USA, where she met her husband, world-renowned golf coach Dan Frost, among her favourite golf resorts. Their aptly-named eight-year-old son Hogan is already hitting the ball as far as Mum and will undoubtedly be a name to watch out for in the future.
Carly is a keen competitor and her list of golfing achievements are vast. She is a former winner of the South West of England Ladies Intermediate Championship, a three-time winner of the European Media Masters and she once beat an entire start-sheet of men to the title of Times Corporate World Golf Champion. She has played for both the Dorset and Surrey County Ladies first teams and is known for her excellent track record at matchplay.

Carly holds the ladies course record (68) at her home club Parkstone and her lowest competition round (seven-under-par 65) was carded in the pro-am of the Irish Ladies Open at Killeen Castle, playing alongside Solheim Cup superstar Anna Nordqvist. Although her current handicap index has crept up to 3.7 since Covid she has her sights firmly set on achieving that elusive scratch handicap and hopefully playing for her country when she’s 50.


Carly’s current What's In The Bag? 

Driver: Callaway Epic Max, 10.5° 

Fairway wood: TaylorMade SIM2, 15° 

Hybrids: Titleist TS2, 19°, 21°, 24° 

Irons: Mizuno JPX900, 5-PW 

Wedges: Cleveland RTX, 52°, 56° and 58° 

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5

Ball: 2021 Callaway Ladies SuperSoft