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The Best Golf Ball

Well, maybe not the best for everybody and maybe it doesn't really make any difference for a mid-handicapper like me but for some reason I got the idea that the ball I use might make a stroke or two difference in my game. Let me back up; my swing is so inconsistent from shot to shot it probably doesn't make much difference what ball I use. Plus I don't "shape" my shots, I try and hit it straight and when my swing of the day is veering left or right I'll try to adjust for it and wham, I get the dreaded straight ball.

But what if a ball existed that was more forgiving? True I should probably fix my swing but at my age that's probably not going to happen and frankly I prefer playing to banging balls on the range day in and day out.

So I searched the web looking for prior research and there was a ton of it. Sadly it was all over the place; one study gave ball X high marks and another put it on the bottom. Some used mechanical equipment, some used human testing and some used a bit of both.

Well, I don't have an "Iron Mike" ball hitting device and my human testing is comprised of a single person (me) but I found three balls that fell within my two criteria:

1) Soft feel. I can't stand to hit a hard ball that's like hitting a rock. I don't like the club feedback with a hard ball and generally I get too much release and run on approach shots (I cannot put enough backspin on a ball to "back it up").

2) Less than $20 a dozen. One I don't like the way expensive balls feel and two I cringe when it comes to a water hazard and  I'm looking down at a $3 ball.

The three likely suspects:

1) Nike Power Distance Soft
2) Precept Laddie Extreme
3) MaxFli RedMax

I picked up a dozen of each at my local sporting goods store for $15.99, $18.83 and $19.37 respectively.

How I tested. I hit one ball exclusively for 9 holes over three rounds of golf. Everything is purely subjective.

Driver: I didn't noticed any one of the balls being consistently longer than any of the others. Oh, on some drives one might be longer than another but then on another hole it would be shorter. Again my inconsistent swing came into play more than the ball. All of the balls were fairly straight unlike some high spin balls that tend to fade for me. By far the Nike felt the best coming off the driver with a pleasing thunk and the feel of hitting a chunk of soft butter.

Irons: By far the MaxFli was the straightest ball almost to the point of being scary straight. I consistently put anything from a nine iron to a wedge within 6 feet of the hole. Oh, there were a few misses, but most were well inside the 6 foot circle. No question it was not my swing but the forgiving nature of the MaxFli. All three balls gave me the same distance.

Putting: I couldn't detect any difference in the feel of any of the balls. They all seemed to putt about the same both in results as well as feel.

So based on the results of my iron play I'm going with the RedMax. I wish it had been the Nike since it's a bit cheaper but it's just not as forgiving as the MaxFli.

Is the MaxFli RedMax the ball for you? Maybe, maybe not, but if you're a mid-handicapper I think any of these three would be worth checking out. If you can't find them locally Golfsmith carries all three on their web site. Prices are a bit different than what I paid but in the ballpark. If you have a regular group you may want to buy a box of each between you and test that way but even if you don't you'll won't be paying much more for all three dozen than you would for a box of super premium balls.

I'm sure there's some other ball I could have included, if you're a mid-handicapper like me and prefer a softer ball and want to suggest it drop me a line here; I'm always willing to try something else.

Hit 'em long but hit 'em straight! -- Don Watkins privacy policy    Copyright, 2006 by Don Watkins