How I found the perfect golf ball for my game
The March issue of Golf Magazine contains a very informative article about new golf balls and fitting systems that you really should see. (You can read it online here)
Losing a golf ball is a scorecard killer, but it really hurts me because I'm cheap. The thought of a bad shot actually costing me money turns my stomach.
While I may be thrifty, don't assume I play with balls sold at the sporting goods store in mesh bags. Just the opposite—I play a premium, multi-layer ball that costs more than $40 per dozen.
If all you can afford are golf balls that cost $10-$15 per dozen, consider yourself off the hook and stop reading here.
Everyone else owes it to himself to make a $40-$50 investment. In addition to the high-tech fitting systems out there, here's a way to do a little low-tech research. But fear not: This isn't ninth grade science class, and you're not going be dissecting a frog. You're going to hit golf balls for about 30 minutes.
Drive to the least-played golf course you know early in the morning, or if you have access to a private club, go at sunrise. Warm up, and then head to a hole where you can hit balls from a fairway and around a green for about 30 minutes.
Once you're there, drop five different three-packs of golf balls next to the 100-yard marker, or wherever you'd make a full-swing approach shot using your pitching wedge. One of the sleeves should be the balls you normally use. The others should balls you're considering.
After you hit all 15, walk to the green and see where each ball went. (Don't forget to fix those ball marks!) Make notes about spin, trajectory, distance from the pin, etc.
Then walk to the next hole and repeat the exercise from about 50 yards out using your sand wedge or a lob wedge. Then hit some chip shots and putts and see how each ball reacts and sounds.
Finish the exercise by walking to the next hole and hitting your driver. Take note of your distance and accuracy with each ball.
When you're done, you should have a good idea which balls played best for you on approach shots, around the green and off the tee. Yes, you'll mis-hit some shots during this exercise, and you shouldn't take those into account. But armed with this new information, you can now make an informed decision about which ball you should use.
With a little help from Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Mike Malaska, I quietly performed this test myself one evening on Superstition Mountain's Prospector Course in Apache Junction, Ariz. Based on what I saw and felt, I switched to a different ball that night.
For the happiness I get on the golf course, it's been worth every penny.