Golf Ball Compression – What It All Means and How Does It Affect Your Game?

Let me explain this with an example – when you’re playing a round of golf, it’s not just any one club or element that matters. All forces, though not on equal terms, come together for delivering the power your game demands, so you can complete the round successfully. Likewise, in a golf ball, many factors combine for the ball to travel the desired distance.

It’s indisputable that your swing speed plays a massive role when it comes to boosting distance. But then, as I said earlier, there are plenty of other determinants too. For instance, distance may not be as much of a priority as accuracy, control, or spin for more advanced golfers. In that case, golf ball compression slides into the picture.

Now it’s only common among both lesser skilled and more experienced golfers to not factor in the compression rating of the ball. And that explains why some of them end up hitting triple-number digits at the finish of an 18-hole round of golf when they can just as easily save some of those strokes simply by choosing the right compression.

So it’s time to evaluate what it all means…

What Does Golf Ball Compression Mean?

What Does Golf Ball Compression Mean?

When your golf ball compresses against the face of the club at the time of contact during your swing, it is propelled forward. And the level of compression at impact is the compression rating of the golf ball i.e. the interaction of the clubface with the ball’s core.

Now let me tell you what matters with regards to this compressing rating. Obviously, the first thing is the core or engine of the golf ball. After all, it’s the core that compels the ball to travel long distances at impact. So when people say it’s a softer or firmer golf ball, it’s actually the core they’re talking about.

And the second factor that comes into play is your swing speed. Those who swing faster hit the ball harder at impact, which means the ball compresses more.

What Really Happens At the Moment of Impact – When Does Golf Ball Compress?

You can’t squeeze a golf ball even if you wanted to. And if you think stepping on it would do the trick, go ahead and try it and you won’t take too long to realize that it’s just not possible.

In that case, when does the golf ball really compress then? That happens precisely when the face of your golf club and the ball come into contact with each other at impact.

Titleist here explains very well the science of the whole Moment of Impact…

Why Is the Compression of Golf Ball So Important?

Not all golf balls have the same compression rating, right? And that number on the ball, which usually is somewhere between 30 and 100, indicates if it’s low compression or not. Because lower compression golf balls go the farthest, which is just what golfers with a slower swing speed need.

So if anyone tells you that compression ratings don’t matter, distance for them is not such a worry as it is for beginner, high handicap, senior, or most women golfers.

The sole function of lower compression is to make the golf ball go much farther once the energy through the clubface is transferred to the ball. The compression of a golf ball handles the heavy, solid impact and high speed of your club to pave the way for flexibility, so the ball is allowed to recoil properly without breaking apart.

What Factors Are Responsible for Compression In A Golf Ball?

Golf Ball Compression

How does the ball compress more or less? That depends on the core of the golf ball and your swing speed. In terms of the latter, a faster swing speed means more compression because of the presence of greater force i.e. energy transfer during impact.

As for the core of the golf ball, a harder core compresses less in comparison to a softer core. With more compression, the level of energy transfer through the ball is greater. And that, in turn, makes the ball ‘spring’ off that clubface, thus boosting distance. On the other hand, less compression on contact transfers less energy.

But, mind you, the hardness or softness of the golf ball cover has nothing to do with its compression. It’s the core of the ball that does, not the cover. And you can’t and shouldn’t use or even refer to both interchangeably.

With a hard COVER, you get less stopping power around the green, less feel, and less spin.

With a soft COVER, you get more stopping power around the green, more feel, and more spin.

Meaning of Low Compression

Firstly, a low compression rating is 80 or below. Secondly, low-compression golf balls travel farther simply because they’re easier to compress, thus also soft. So they rebound or spring off the clubface. Thus, golfers struggling with distance choose low compression, such as these longest golf balls.

But more advanced players stay away because of the lack of control.

Pros

  • Low-compression golf balls have a softer core
  • Easier to compress, thus they maximize distance
  • Preserves loss of ball speed on mis-hits
  • The most suitable for slower swing speeds

Cons

  • Too much spin with a too soft, squishy feel
  • Not for faster swing speeds

Meaning of Medium Compression

Medium compression, often around 90, gives you both control as well as distance. They seem to be working out the best for a mix of both amateur and professional golfers.

Pros

  • Standard, in-between core suitable for all skills
  • Maximum distance in the case of average swing speeds

Cons

  • Obviously, not for extremely slow or fast swing speeds

Meaning of High Compression

The compression rating here is 100 or higher. No doubt, these golf balls are the most difficult to hit, but controlling them is the easiest thing. Therefore, golfers with a faster swing speed can use them to gain the most amount of control off that tee.

If the distance is not a concern for you at all, rather you care more about control, then high compression is the way to go with your faster swing speed. But if control and distance both are on equal ground, choose medium compression. As for distance and distance alone, low compression works best.

Pros

  • High-compression golf balls have a harder core
  • Slower to compress, thus they maximize control
  • Boost distance potential with a higher swing speed

Cons

  • Not for slower swing speeds and beginners

Golf Ball Compression Chart

Time to find out what the compression rating is of the most commonly used golf balls and how it fits with your swing speed…

Golf Ball Compression Rating Swing Speed
Bridgestone Tour B X Mid <105 mph
Bridgestone Tour B XS Mid <105 mph
Bridgestone Tour B RX Low 85 – 104 mph
Bridgestone Tour B RXS Low 85 – 104 mph
Bridgestone e12 Soft Low 85 – 104 mph
Bridgestone e12 Speed Mid <105 mph
Bridgestone e6 Low 85 – 104 mph
Bridgestone e6 Lady Low 85 – 104 mph
Bridgestone Laddie Extreme Low 85> mph
Callaway Chrome Soft Mid 85 – 104 mph
Callaway Chrome Soft X High <105 mph
Callaway ERC Soft Low 85 – 104 mph
Callaway Supersoft Low 85> mph
Callaway Supersoft Magna Low 85> mph
Callaway Superhot Low 85 – 104 mph
Callaway Warbird High 85 – 104 mph
Callaway Strata Eagle Mid 85 – 104 mph
Cut DC High <105 mph
Cut Blue High <105 mph
Cut Grey Mid 85 – 104 mph
Cut Red Low 85> mph
Cut Matte Low 85 – 104 mph
Mizuno RB Tour High <105 mph
Mizuno RB Tour X High <105 mph
Mizuno RB 566 Low 85 – 104 mph
Mizuno RB 566 V Low 85 – 104 mph
Snell MTB-X High 85 – 104 mph
Snell MTB-Black Mid 85 – 104 mph
Snell Get Sum Low 85> mph
Srixon Z-Star High 85 – 104 mph
Srixon Z-Star XV High <105 mph
Srixon Q-Star Mid 85 – 104 mph
Srixon Q-Star Tour Mid 85 – 104 mph
Srixon Soft Feel Low 85> mph
Srixon Soft Feel Lady Low 85 – 104 mph
Taylormade TP5 Mid 85 – 104 mph
Taylormade TP5X High <105 mph
Taylormade TP5 Pix Mid 85 – 104 mph
Taylormade TP5X Pix High <105 mph
Taylormade Tour Response Mid 85 – 104 mph
Taylormade Project (a) Mid 85 – 104 mph
Taylormade Soft Response Low 85 – 104 mph
Taylormade Noodle Long And Soft Low 85> mph
Titleist ProV1 High 85 – 104 mph
Titleist ProV1X High <105 mph
Titleist AVX Mid 85 – 104 mph
Titleist Tour Speed Mid 85 – 104 mph
Titleist Tour Soft Mid 85 – 104 mph
Titleist Velocity Mid 85 – 104 mph
Titleist TruFeel Low 85> mph
Vice Pro Low 85 – 104 mph
Vice Pro Soft Low 85> mph
Vice Pro Plus High <105 mph
Vice Tour Low 85 – 104 mph
Vice Drive Low 85> mph
Volvik Vivid Mid 85> mph
Volvik Vivid Lite Mid 85> mph
Volvik S3 Mid 85 – 104 mph
Volvik S4 High <105 mph
Volvik Crystal High 85> mph
Volvik Solice Mid 85 – 104 mph
Volvik Power Soft Mid 85 – 104 mph
Volvik ViMax Soft Mid 85> mph
Volvik XT Soft Mid 85> mph
Volvik XT AMT High 85 – 104 mph
Wilson Staff Model High <105 mph
Wilson Duo Professional Low 85 – 104 mph
Wilson Duo Soft+ Low 85> mph
Wilson Duo Optix Low 85> mph
Wilson Fifty Elite Low 85> mph
Wilson Zip Low 85 – 104 mph
Wilson Tour Velocity Distance Mid 85 – 104 mph
Wilson Tour Velocity Feel Mid 85 – 104 mph

What Compression Rating Works for You?

The chart above should help you find YOUR compression rating. But to explain that point of view more generally, let me say that a slower swing speed almost always benefits the most from low compression while high compression is the most suitable for high-speed players.

The faster your swing speed, the more advantage you can take of a higher compression rating, right?

But then that doesn’t mean, not always at least, that golfers with a faster swing speed MUST choose high-compression golf balls. However, a faster speed is surely a good indicator of what compression rating works for you.

What Impact Does Compression Have On Your Game?

Compressing the golf ball more means increasing your distance potential because then the ball ‘jumps’ or ‘springs’ off the clubface. Fast-speed golfers can do this very effortlessly of course but golfers with a slower swing speed cannot. The latter, more often than not, struggles with generating a higher swing speed to create more compression i.e. greater distance.

So when the compression rating is lower on its own, a slower swing speed still gets the wonderful opportunity to maximize distance.

Does that mean players with a faster swing speed don’t use low-compression golf balls? Well, it certainly doesn’t ruin the game BUT you do indeed miss out on the opportunity of making the most of a golf ball specifically engineered for your benefit. The extra energy then just goes to waste.

Does Weather Have An Impact On Golf Ball Compression?

When the temperature is extremely cold (below 50 degrees), high-compression golf balls have lower compression and low-compression golf balls have higher compression. That’s simply because cold weather affects the density of the ball. Thus, giving it a feel as hard as a rock.

So it’s best to go for a lower compression rating when the weather is chilly, so there’s more room for added flexibility emanating off the club.

How Should You Choose the Right Golf Ball Based On All This?

It’s as simple as picking the right compression rating based on your swing speed…

  • Low-compression golf balls are for golfers with a slow swing speed, that is below 85 mph.
  • Medium-compression golf balls are the most fitting for the majority of golfers, who have a swing speed between 85 mph and 104 mph.
  • High-compression golf balls, needless to say, are for those who swing faster than 105 mph.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Compression (FAQs)

Do Lower Compression Golf Balls Travel More Distance?

It’s a very simple explanation – low compression means easier for your driver to compress on impact, which means greater energy transfer through the ball. And the inevitable outcome of this is the golf ball traveling farther in comparison to high compression.

What Compression Golf Ball Should Seniors Use?

To be honest, it all depends on your swing speed, and not necessarily your age. As a senior golfer, it’s most likely that your swing speed has declined. In that case, a lower compression rating works the best in your favor.

For instance, if your swing speed is 70 mph, then a 70 compression is the most suitable. With an 80 mph swing speed, the compression should be 80. With 100 mph, 100 compression rating. And so on and so forth.

What Compression Rating Works Best for Slow Swing Speeds?

As for golfers with a slower swing speed (this includes beginners, seniors, high handicappers, and women golfers), nothing is more fitting than a low-compression golf ball. As it offers the highest ‘spring’ effect to maximize distance, despite the slower speed.

Anything else you choose is only just going to cost you precious distance and also some greenside feel.

Why Do Some People Say That Compression of Golf Ball Doesn’t Matter?

Not all golf ball brands these days mention compression rating anymore. Because now, because of the invention and use of modern, advanced materials and technologies, there are other ways to make golf balls perform and feel better.

For instance, a modern-day golf ball with a compression rating of 70, based on the compression test, can feel like a 60 or 55.

Another reason is that golf ball manufacturers don’t use the same compression testing standards. Not every maker uses a similar static load that causes the ball to deform due to that particular load.

In simpler words, a 60 compression rating on a Callaway golf ball may just as well be a 55 with another brand.

How to Achieve Maximum Distance From A Golf Ball?

Due to the maximum force applied, almost everything can crumble, break, or explode, right? But then right before that destruction point, there’s maximum energy production. And this max. energy generation is what hugely contributes to boosting distance.

So if you choose golf balls that match perfectly with your swing speed, you can indeed gain an advantage over distance. Once more, slower swing speeds gain the upper hand in terms of maximizing distance with the help of only low-compression golf balls

Compressed Conclusion

So to sum it up, what compression rating works the best for you entirely depends on your swing speed. Also, the compression of a golf ball has nothing to do with its cover material. Rather it’s the core of the ball that determines compression.

Compression is the force required for squeezing or compressing the golf ball. And this force is applied when the clubface comes in contact with the ball i.e. at impact. When you match up your swing speed to this, you can actually increase your yardages without having to do much.

And let’s not also forget that weather affects the golf ball’s compression rating.

I have explained ALL OF THIS in detail throughout the article. So please read again in case you happened to miss out on anything.

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Carolyn Heller’s highly resourceful blog, Golf Depends, could easily become your go-to platform for the most authentic, practical golf-related content. It’s where you begin to appreciate the sport and learn how to improve your game with more positive results and less frustration. [View all posts by Carolyn Heller.]

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