Buying golf balls? Make sure to understand golf-ball construction

the inside of golf balls

The more you know about golf-ball construction, the easier it’ll be to buy the right model for you. Here's a quick primer to help.

Photo: Jeffrey Westbrook/Stylist: Miako Katoh

We recently published our ultimate 2024 Golf Ball Guide, in which we reviewed and recommended 48 golf balls for your game. Scroll below for more from our 2024 Golf Ball Guide package.

ICYMI: 2024 Golf Ball Guide: 48 golf balls reviewed
ICYMI: 3-step primer for picking the right golf ball for you
ICYMI: 4 golf-ball buying questions and answers from experts


Buying golf balls? Make sure to understand golf-ball construction

Other than their color, most golf balls look the same. A peek inside, however, shows that they’re highly engineered pieces of gear aimed at delivering a certain set of performance characteristics. The more you know about their construction, the easier it’ll be to buy the right model for you.

Although golf balls appear to be fairly simple pieces of sports equipment from the outside, they are, in fact, hyper-engineered, aerodynamically tuned orbs of synthetic rubbers and polymers designed to fly at ballistic speeds while maintaining a controlled trajectory. Yes, that sounds like a mouthful, but, if you’ve ever had the chance to see how the layers of a golf ball are molded and assembled, it’s a sight to behold. And it will make you think twice before you abandon the search for the next golf ball you hit into the long grass.

Photo: Jeffrey Westbrook/Stylist: Miako Katoh

Speaking of layers, think of them as the engine, transmission and tires that allow the golf ball to possess their performance properties. But everything still starts with the core. For most two-piece or value-based golf balls, the core is larger and softer to help reduce spin, increase distance and maintain a softer feel. They can also be designed to have a variable hardness from the center out to the perimeter — known as progressive firmness — to create more speed while still maintaining a softer feel. This construction technology is used in all categories.

Next up is the mantle, a layer found in multilayer models. It aids the core in transferring energy for ball speed and distance and helps engineers fine-tune iron spin and feel. The mantle also creates a firm layer for the cover to compress against to create short-game spin on shots hit with a more glancing blow.

And finally, the cover. This layer is made from either Surlyn or ionomer for most value golf balls, or a softer urethane for premium golf balls, to allow for exacting short-game control and stopping power.

So … never assume all balls are built the same. The right combo can take your game to new heights.

Callaway 2024 Chrome Tour X Triple Track Golf Balls

Chrome Tour X is the new gold standard in Tour Balls. From core to cover, every detail in the new Chrome Tour X has been optimized for the best players seeking speed and the ultimate in control. HYPER FAST SOFT CORE New Hyper Fast Soft Core is designed to produce maximum ball speed for long distance. SEAMLESS TOUR AERO New Seamless Tour Aero delivers a consistent penetrating ball flight on every shot. HIGH-PERFORMANCE TOUR URETHANE SOFT COVER New High-Performance Tour Urethane Soft Cover consistently delivers maximum greenside control.
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