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The ability to compress a golf ball is key to hitting crisp, penetrating shots. If you have ever seen a slow-motion close up of a pro hitting a ball, you will notice the ball flattens out upon impact. How much the ball does so is its compression rate.
To figure the compression rate, researchers measure how much the ball deforms under a certain weight. You may be wondering why all this matters to you. It may seem overly esoteric. However, it is important for any golfer to match the golf ball’s compression rate with your swing speed.
Many balls have a compression rate of 70 to 110, although some fall far outside that range. For example, the Titleist Pro V1 is among the most popular balls ever made and has a compression rate of 90.
Slower swing speeds do best with a low compression, or softer, golf ball. Here’s why.
Why Compression Matters
When a ball is compressed upon impact, it is storing energy. That energy is then released, sending the ball on its way. Simply put, the compression of a golf ball transfers the energy of your swing to the ball.
The average player on the PGA Tour has a swing speed in excess of 110 miles per hour with a driver. There are other factors involved to determine what kind of distance that equates to, but generally it means a carry of 275 yards or so. The average golfer’s swing speeds will be about 20 miles per hour slower than a tour pro’s.
As you age, your swing speed declines. What does all that mean? If you are a senior golfer playing the same balls as younger players, you are costing yourself distance and adding strokes.
Ball manufacturers historically did not list the compression rate. That has begun to change in recent years as low-compression balls have become more popular.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of options for you to choose from. Here are some of the best choices, beginning with a ball that is the second-best seller on Amazon.
This ball lives up to its name with a compression rate of just 38. That low compression rate is paired nicely with a soft cover for greater feel around the greens. For golfers with swing speeds below 95 miles per hour, the Calloway Supersoft is an extremely popular ball.
Calloway has only been making these since 2014, but it has quickly come to be its top seller. Its low spin rate means greater distance and less wayward shots.
And the price is right at less than half of Titleist Pro V1. Amazon shoppers love this ball with an average review of 4.5 stars.
Titleist DT TruSoft
Titleist’s Pro V1 might be the best ball ever made. But that ball is not made for players with low swing speeds. To rectify this, Titleist entered the low-compression market with the DT TruSoft. Titleist spent two years developing this ball, not willing to sacrifice too much in overall performance that it is known for.
Mostly they succeeded, as this ball gets high reviews on Amazon.
Srixon Soft Feel
Srixon recently refined its low-compression entry, and it is definitely an improvement. This ball has a new core it calls the Energetic Gradient Growth Core. This is designed to give the best combination of control and distance with a low spin rate and high trajectory.
Another new feature is a 338-dimple pattern designed for reduced drag.
Srixon has mostly hits the mark as Amazon reviewers give it high scores.
Wilson Staff 50 Elite
With its low price, the Wilson Staff 50 Elite might be the best place to start for those experimenting with low-compression balls. At around $15 per dozen, it is difficult to beat the price. The performance does not suffer too badly, as the 50 Elite gives you a compression rate of 50 (as the name suggests) with a low-spin rate.
This ball will seem familiar for those golfers who once played the balata balls of old. Amazon reviewers are big fans of this ball.
Wilson Staff Duo Soft Optix
This is a better quality ball than its cousin, the 50 Elite. It also has a ridiculously low compression rate of 29, which might be the lowest on the market. Its spin rate is also extremely low. That also may be the lowest of any golf ball.
You may sacrifice a bit on and around the green, but this is a great choice for those looking to maximize distance. These get generally good reviews on Amazon.
Pinnacle has long been known for its rock-hard balls that appealed to high handicappers. But Pinnacle has seen the development of the market for softer balls and enters the field with this ball. It definitely fits the bill, with a low compression rate and with only 332 dimples. That dimple design means a straighter flight, reducing slices and hooks.
It may not have the cachet of some of its competitors, but Amazon reviewers seem to like it just fine.
Maxfli has long been an established name for recreational golfers. This entry into the low-compression market fits right in. It has an extremely low compression rate of 35. A low spin rate means your drives will fly straighter. Has a low 332-dimple design to further lower the spin rate.
It is not a big seller on Amazon but the folks who have reviewed it all seem to like it. Comes with a matte finish that is unusual for golf balls.
TaylorMade Noodle Long and Soft
TaylorMade’s Noodle line of golf balls are designed for the recreational and high-handicapper golfer with its whimsical name. As for performance, the Long and Soft has a low compression rate of 34 and a 342-dimple design.
That means longer distance and straighter flight off the tee. Amazon reviews are quite good.
Volvik Golf DS 55
As the name suggests, these ball have a compression rate of 55. That is low but not quite as low as some of the others on this list. These balls come in a range of colors. The Volvik name may not be as familiar to some, but these balls share some qualities of others in this category. They fly straighter and longer than higher compression counterparts, at least for those with a slow swing speed.
Amazon reviewers generally like this ball.
Putting it All Together
Knowing the compression rate is important to your choice of ball. But that is not the only factor.
You need to know your swing rate to know what ball is the right match for you. That may be impractical for many golfers. You could go to a golf training facility and have your speed measured electronically. You could also invest in a swing analyzer that tracks swing speed and many other aspects of your golf shots.
These will be steps too far for recreational golfers. It will be less precise, but there is a simple method for estimating your swing speed. For this, you need to know how far you hit your drives. A visit or two to a golf range should help you narrow that down if you don’t already know.
Take the average length of your drive and reduce it by five percent to get the carry distance. Multiply that by 0.38 to get a good estimate of your swing speed. Here is an example:
Average drive distance: 220 yards
Carry distance: 220 * 0.95 = 209
Swing speed: 209 * 0.38 = 79.42
What does all this mean? If you (like many senior golfers) carry the ball with your driver less than 175 yards, you will likely benefit from a low-compression ball.
Calloway Supersoft has made its name in this category and is a great choice for most seniors. Also, Titleist is not the industry leader for no reason. Its DT TruSoft is a great ball.