Welcome to Fit Factor, a new GOLF.com series in which we’re shining a light on the importance of club (and ball) fitting, powered by insights, data and other learnings from the experts at our 8AM Golf sister company, True Spec Golf.
In a recent episode of GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, we grilled True Spec’s VP of Tour and Education, Kris McCormack, on some common club-fitting questions. We continue the conversation with a rarely-discussed topic: What’s the best way to test golf balls?
We constantly harp on the importance of getting fit in this space, but it’s usually tied to the clubs in your bag — not the golf ball. The clubs are important, don’t get us wrong. But if you want to optimize your entire gear setup, the golf ball needs to be included.
Better yet, spend some time focusing solely on your ball and how it fits with your game.
There’s no right or wrong way to test golf balls, but we’d suggest conducting head-to-head testing the same way as Tiger Woods and countless other elite golfers: Start around the green and work your way back from there. That means zeroing in on how the ball reacts with the putter and scoring clubs.
“Every good quality, tour-caliber ball is going to respond off the tee and on that full swing,” said McCormack. “The launch window might be a little different, but where they really start to separate themselves is when a player has confidence, feel and control around the greens — even with the putter. What can you hit and have it stop when you need it to? Control with a golf ball around the green is huge.”
McCormack suggested rolling putts to see how the ball reacts coming off the face. Does it feel too firm and lack the distance control you need from 25 or 30 feet? How’s the ball rolling?
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Once you’ve found a few worthy options, start working on pitches and chips before descending on the bunker and working your way back to approach shots from 60 or 90-plus yards into the green. Focus on how the ball is reacting when it makes contact with the green. If there are certain shots where it feels unresponsive, it might not be worth pursuing.
Unless you’re an exceptional ball-striker, there are going to be rounds where your putter and short game determine whether you’re breaking 80 or posting a big number.
“You’d be surprised how few golfers start testing around the green,” McCormack said. “It’s not as sexy as a long drive, but it really needs to take priority.”
So focus on finding the best ball for your short game. The additional work will no doubt save you shots along the way.
Want to overhaul your own bag for 2021? Visit the expert fitters at our sister company, True Spec Golf. And for more on the latest gear news, check out the latest Fully Equipped podcast below.