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Do different balls affect putting?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

 I've read comments saying a certain balls  are "hot off the putter". I know the ball can affect drives and backspin, but putting?

post #2 of 12

Some of the balls designed for distance can seem to "hot" off the putter. I've found that these balls tend to jump and skid before starting to roll.

post #3 of 12

Hearsay evidence.  To really answer this q. we need objective research by someone at MIT or CalTech.  Any takers?  Impossible to trust Titleist or Bridgestone Universities.


Given the slooooow speed of the clubhead and the nearly vertical face of the putter it seems to me that we would find no significant difference between types of golf balls on the putting green. Don't forget, all balls weigh the same and have the same dimensions.  All have dimples and most are white.  I agree that composition of outermost layer of ball, whether softer or harder, and composition of putter face, some soft plastic but some very hard titanium, all may make some difference. But in total, insignificant. "Hot" off the face is merely 'TV talk'.

post #4 of 12

i went from mojos to e6s to penta tp/b330-rx and there's a whole lot of difference in feel off the putter to me. i think the sound and feel affect how you hit them more than the construction of the ball affects it.


ymmv of course, but that's my experience.

post #5 of 12
Originally Posted by joekelly View Post

Hearsay evidence.  To really answer this q. we need objective research by someone at MIT or CalTech.  Any takers?  Impossible to trust Titleist or Bridgestone Universities.


Well, I've gone to both, can I just spout my opinion, or do I have to actually do the research?


Different balls certainly *feel* different off the putter, but I completely agree with your skepticism. My suspicion is that there may be a real effect, but it's probably because after a few putts, you anticipate the feel and hit the ball harder or softer. You're not going to compress a golf ball any appreciable amount with your putter, so it shouldn't matter much what it's made of.


Though, just thinking to myself, if it feels different, then something is happening to affect that. Maybe some objective testing is in order.

post #6 of 12
I have noted that different balls sound different and feel different.
  • Sound tends to range from soft "thuds" in more expensive short-game oriented balls, to sharp "tings" in cheaper/harder distance-oriented balls.
  • Feel tends to range from softer more seemless impact in the more expensive short-game oriented balls to harder more punched impact in the distance-oriented balls.

But I have not noticed any actual difference in performance. I have taken several balls of various types out with me onto putting greens and practiced putting, and I have yet to be able to determine a difference in actual performance. If there is one, I'm not good enough to, side-by-side, tell a difference. If someone were a terrific putter and could control their putts down to the inch consistently, I wouldn't be surprised if one ball traveled an inch farther than another or had 5% less skidding, but I would expect that to only be a very minor deviation in performance, only relevant for a really good player, and probably only noticeable between the extremes of ball types.

Part of the problem is that, psychologically, we get primed by our senses to expect some things. When we see and feel a certain kind of impact, we're mentally prepared and probably biased toward observing it. I've heard people say that certain balls seem to go farther/shorter, or roll differently. But people also mess up their assessment of every other type of shot in golf, so I consider such hearsay untrustworthy. a1_smile.gif

I would be open to hearing from a good putter who has conducted extensive side-by-side tests between several ball types and performed some sort of measurements (even if they're just relative to each other). It may not be perfect, but it'd be interesting to hear, and certainly worth more than people comparing balls across different rounds on different days.
post #7 of 12

A "Rock" Flite feels like a BB compared to a ProV1. 

post #8 of 12

Depends on your putter face.. and ball cover, but yes, of course different balls react differently.


I've been changing putters and balls lately. It's really messing up my green game.. just stay consistent with your tools and ball, and it'll be good.

post #9 of 12

Different balls can make a huge difference.  I find that I can hit a putt much softer with a cheaper distance ball and still get the distance that I need than I can with a tour ball or a ball with a softer cover.

Keep in mind too that much of what our perception of feel is comes from sound, so feel can be very different depending upon whether the ball makes a click or a thud sound at impact.

post #10 of 12

I am convinced that some balls putt better than others. No doubt they feel different and sound different, but I'd like real data to tell me whether or not they putt straighter or longer due to hardness, cover material or anything else that affects sound or feel.


I found what I thought was a super deal on balls at the golf store.  At the time, I didn't mind playing cheap balls in casual rounds, or in competitive rounds that I'd messed up so bad that I switched from premium balls to cheap just to get through the remaining holes. In fact I still by Noodles at WalMart just to knock around when I'm not really worrying about score. These house brand balls werre selling 15 balls for $10.99 and then at the register I was told "buy one, get one free" so I picked up another 15 ball pack. Out the door with 30 new balls at just over 10 bucks.


The first few times I played these balls, I putted poorly and couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.  I hit the putting green to work on my stroke and when I pulled the balls I had in the pocket of my golf bag to putt, I had to decide which will I practice with and I decided to use both brands.  I soon noticed that I was making more putts with the premium balls. 


In the back of my closet where I store golf stuff, mostly gifts from the wife and kids that I never use, I had one of those little machines that spins up a ball so that you can mark the point on the ball that is perpendicular to the axis around which the heaviest part of the ball rolls.  I never gave this machine must credit for doing anything other than separatiing golfers from the dollars in their golf budget.


I took the remaining new balls of both types and I spun them up one by one. What I noticed was that the cheap balls took longer to settle down in the machine and spin up than the premium balls which told me that the cheaper balls were farther from being perfectly balanced. After marking the balls so that I knew their rolling axis,, I took three of each to the practice green. I lined up each of the balls and intentionally set them up to roll perpendicular to their preferred axis. I found that the premium balls putted much better than the cheap balls and the out of balance condition on the cheap balls pulled them off line.


Now what I know about MIT and CalTech is basically limited to what states they are in, so take my experiment results for what they are worth and what I charge for them.


CONCLUSION:  Golf balls are not perfectly balanced. Some golf balls are better balanced than others. The golf balls that I tested showed significant difference between the two brands, especially when subjected to worst case testing conditions.

post #11 of 12

Well, BigWave, i would agree that out-of-balance balls would surely roll more poorly than those not.  And if higher priced balls are consistently better balanced, then we could generalize to say that the more we pay for a ball the more likely that ball more balanced.  When i was a boy i heard from my uncle that all gasoline came from the same factory but some went into Shell trucks and some into Texaco trucks, etc. How many golf ball factories can we find in the world? Premium balls have more guts, internal layers, and maybe more room for error. The 'rocks' have a solid core and one piece cover. What could be simpler? Sure, if  solid core not totally uniform it will not roll perfectly.  Big questions. For me, my skill and confidence account for 99% of my putts. Green fees and practice fees increasing in my neighborhood, so will stay with trusted ball brand; '50 clean 2nd handers $13'.  Have read that Hogan tested new balls, like you did, and chose only the best for tourny play. I'm a simple hacker.

post #12 of 12

Well, joekelly, whether balls come from a single factory or gasoline comes from the same refinery is irrelevant. Factories and refineries produce a variety of products and often the quality variance and specifications of any product coming from them is quite significant.


I don't believe that balls of different feel, configuration, or material putt any better or worse than another ball unless they are out of round or out of balance. Feel and sound are a matter of preference and may give a player more confidence, but may not be any physical advantage whatsoever.


In Hogan's day, balls were rubber cores wound with elastic (rubber bands) then covered with natural balata. Constency from ball to ball in many characteristics was an isssue. Balls were more likely to be out of round, out of balance, and the quality control on cover thickness was not as close. Todays ball's are much more consistent, but I still believe a good deal of the cost in making a premuim golf ball is in the engineering and quality control that goes into them to achieve best performance.


I can't generalize since my experiment didn't prove that pricier balls are necessarily better, just that my pricier ball is better than the bargain basement model that made me think I was either misreading putts or I was somehow mis-hitting them. My experiment was only with ProV1 and Snake Eyes (I forget which version) I've also spun up a few Noodles and they seem to be a little more out of balance than the ProV1s so I mark them. That way I can line them up for putting to minimize the effect of the imbalance.


Like I said, when my round doesn't really count for anything but enjoyment of the game I'm as likely to be playing a Noodle from WalMart, that I can get for about $14 a dozen, as I am a ProV1. Basically, I choose the best only for tourney play (or when I've got a $5 Nassau goin')

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