How much do you know about the golf balls in your bag or the range balls in your bucket? Golfers spend hundreds of dollars a year on golf balls, but quite often don’t understand the technology or the markings. Do you ever find a ball on the golf course and wonder if it is a good ball for you to play?
Golf balls are made in different colors, with logos, and all sorts of numbers printed on them. The numbers you see on a golf ball can tell you everything you need to know about that piece of golf equipment. For example, do you know why some Titleist golf balls have red numbers and others have black numbers?
Below we explore different types of golf balls and the different numbers that are printed on them. Golf ball trends have changed over the years, so you can tell how old a ball is based on the numbers. Keep reading and by the end of this article, you will speak fluent golf ball.
What The Numbers On A Golf Ball Mean
There are three different types of numbers on a golf ball. Single-digit numbers, double-digit numbers, and triple-digit numbers. They each serve a different purpose and tell you something different about the ball you are about to hit.
One Digit Numbers
The easiest number to understand on your golf ball is the single-digit number. They are directly below the brand of the golf ball and their primary purpose is to help you identify your golf ball. For example, everyone in your foursome can play a Callaway golf ball as long as you are playing different numbers. You can play a Callaway 2 and your buddy can play a Callaway 4. This one-digit number prevents you from playing the wrong ball.
The rules of golf also recommend that you mark your ball with something unique for identification purposes. Most professional golfers use a permanent marker to add some dots or a symbol that has personal meaning. The idea is that two players could be using a Callaway 2, but they wouldn’t have the same markings.
The majority of golf balls are numbered between 1-4, but you can find them with single-digit numbers up to 9.
In some brands, the color of the single-digit number will tell you the model you are playing. Titleist Pro V1s are considered the best golf balls you can buy and they use this concept. If the single-digit number is black you are playing a Pro V1, but if the number is red, it is a Pro V1x.
Two Digit Numbers
Depending on the brand name and age of your golf ball, you may find a couple of different two-digit numbers. A relatively new concept by golf ball manufacturers is to let golfers customize their balls when they purchase. This allows you to buy golf balls with identification numbers from 1-99. For example, you can order some TaylorMade TP5 golf balls with 79 listed under their name to remember the one time you broke 80! Or maybe you would like a dozen Callaways with your lucky number.
The other two-digit number you might find on a golf ball is the compression rating. The lower the compression, the softer the ball, and the higher the compression rating, the harder the ball. To get maximum distance, you want to compress the golf ball, so the perfect golf ball for you will depend on your swing speed. Younger/stronger golfers will want higher compression golf balls, but juniors/seniors may get more distance from a golf ball with lower compression.
The ball’s compression rating was a major marketing theme for golf ball manufacturers in the 1990s and early 2000s but is no longer highlighted as much. If you find a ball with a small 80 or 90 on the side of it, that is the compression rating and the ball is most likely a couple of decades old.
Three Digit Numbers
Even avid golfers may not have seen a golf ball with a three-digit number on it. It is somewhat rare, but some brands list the number of dimples on the golf ball.
Just a quick reminder, the dimples are the tiny cup-like indentions all over the ball. They help golf balls fly straight and stay in the air longer.
This number is typically in the 300s, but golf brands have tried to get creative with dimple design over the years. If you are looking for an example, find a Titleist Pro V1x from the mid-2000s. That golf ball was designed with 332 dimples and Titleist printed it on the side of the ball.
The majority of golf ball manufacturers have gone away from including the number of dimples on balls, so if you find one, it is probably several years old.
Numbers On A Golf Ball: Frequently Asked Questions
How can you tell how old a golf ball is?
There are several ways you can tell the age of a golf ball. Quite often the markings and/or the numbers of the golf ball will tell you the story. For example, if you find a Titleist ProV1 with a 332 on the side, it was made at least 15 years ago.
Are expensive golf balls worth it?
Quick answer, it depends. If you play on the PGA Tour then yes, expensive golf balls are worth it. You are good enough to take advantage of the technology. Beginner golfers are better off saving their money and buying cheaper golf balls. Let’s be honest, you will probably lose it fairly quickly!
Do softer golf balls go further?
The key to hitting the ball farther is to match it with your swing speed. If you swing hard, you want a harder golf ball, but if you have a slower swing speed a soft ball is better for you. Low-compression balls (softer) are great for juniors and seniors.
Are The Golf Balls In Your Bag Right For You?
What numbers are on the balls that are currently in your golf bag? Do they match your game and your swing speed? Go take a look - there is no time like the present.
The one-digit numbers are all about personal choice. Do you prefer to play a Bridgestone 3 or a Bridgestone 1? This number doesn’t alter the performance of the golf ball. On the other hand, the two-digit numbers or three-digit numbers could include important information. You want the golf ball compression to match your swing speed. If you see a three-digit number that ball is pretty old and it might be time to invest in some new ones!
Learn to understand your golf equipment and play better golf. Good luck and play well!