Fully Equipped mailbag: What’s the difference between white and yellow golf balls?

yellow golf ball difference

Beyond the color, is there really a performance difference between yellow and white golf balls?

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Welcome to another edition of the Fully Equipped mailbag sponsored by Cleveland/Srixon Golf, an interactive GOLF.com series in which our resident dimplehead (a.k.a., GOLF’s managing editor of equipment, Jonathan Wall) fields your hard-hitting gear questions. 

I saw your story on Tommy Fleetwood changing to a ball with a different cover design and it got me wondering if there’s a performance difference between yellow golf balls and the standard white version?

We’ve seen a color explosion in the golf ball market over the last two years. Yellow remains the most popular alternative option, but it’s now common to see golfers playing balls with alignment patterns and two-tone covers, like the one found on Srixon’s Q-Star Tour Divide.

Pros have even warmed to the idea of playing different colors and patterns as well, which is a significant shift from where we were about a decade ago. It’s safe to say the stigma that was once attached to yellow golf balls — most assumed they were designed for the range or high-handicap golfers — is no longer a thing.

Of course, it’s still natural to pick up, say, a standard Q-Star Tour and two-tone Q-Star Tour Divide and wonder if they’ll perform the same. The covers look markedly different, but I can assure you the ball performance is identical. The bright pigments you see are infused into the cover to keep things consistent across the board. Altering the ball recipe, even slightly, would be an R&D nightmare.

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Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide

The eye-catching two-tone thermoplastic urethane cover construction on the three-piece Q-Star Tour Divide golf ball is impossible to miss.
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Having conducted plenty of ball testing on Foresight’s GCQuad with the same model in different color options, I can confirm the numbers check out from tee to green. Spin, launch, ball speed — it’s all the same.

The myriad of color options in the golf ball marketplace are primarily designed to enhance visibility, but a few serve a dual purpose, improving your alignment in the process. Some even come in matte finishes designed to reduce glare, similar to the matte crown look that’s become so popular on many drivers.

So the next time you pick up a yellow golf ball, don’t question whether it’ll check up like the identical version with the white cover resting in your golf bag. It’s not about changing the performance recipe, but rather giving golfers different visual and alignment options to improve their play on the course.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2021? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf. For more on the latest gear news and information, check out our latest Fully Equipped podcast below.

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.