The Library

What Ball Compression Should I Use?
By Pat Dolan

This question was never asked of me "as often" as I thought it should've been. Sadly over the years I saw a ton of golfers playing golf with balls of the wrong compression. It's a shame because on a number of occasions I witnessed golfers having bad rounds because of a single under powered shot. Like a ball finishing in the water because I knew it hadn't been fully compressed. Yet my mentors taught me to "never offer advice" and especially never do it on the golf course. They allowed us to answer questions but made us promise, never to volunteer information on the course except during playing lessons.

It is a question that "when asked" caused me a great deal of anxiety. You see, it was very difficult to explain. At one time all accepted explanations of creating ball compression's were as confusing to me, as they were for the students. I spent many hours thinking of an easier way to explain it.

Then one morning by accident, I was reading the morning paper which arrived with a rubber band around it. I was playing with the rubber band while reading the paper when it suddenly dawned on me, I finally had a way to easily explain ball compression.

The hardest part of explaining ball compression had "always been" how any manufacturer could make a golf ball and do it by complying with the rules of golf, which read.

(Please note: Both The Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association rules on a golf balls specifications regarding it's size and weight are exactly the same.)

  • a. Weight - The weight of the ball shall not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois (45.93 gm).

  • b. Size - The diameter of the ball shall be not less than 1.680 inches (42.67mm).

    So not only does a ball manufacturer make golf balls of different compression's they must also be the same size and weight.

    Given the above facts, no wonder so many students were confused. When explaining compression the concept of the balls size remaining the same sounded impossible. Their typical question was, "When I compress something it becomes smaller, so how does the ball remain the same size ?"

    This was just one question which needed to be explained in a simple manner. With the old method it was almost impossible to do. Then I accidentally found the way to do it. I think anyone reading the following example will agree.

    Take a rubber band and wrap it around 3 of your fingers. Next wrap it around the same 3 fingers, only this time as you wrap it stretch it so you can wrap it around them at least 3 times. You will definitely feel a tremendous amount of difference in the pressure on your fingers.

    What you are feeling is compression. You are using the same amount of material and it is occupying the same amount of space, yet it is producing different pressures on your fingers. That pressure is the result of compression and that's exactly how it happens inside a golf ball.

    The more you stretch the rubber the more your compression rises. Stretch it 8 times it's natural length and you have created an 80 compression ball, stretch it 9 times and create a 90 compression and 10 times a 100. Yet no matter how many times you stretch it around your fingers when you remove it, it returns to it's original size and weight. Therefore when wrapped around your fingers it only changes in it's appearence/shape.

    In order to get maximum distance from a golf ball, you must compress it fully. It is generally accepted, a fully compressed golf ball is one that is half flattened at impact. To get full distance with any golf ball the golfer must supply enough force to half flatten the ball they are using.

    In the old days, the only way to find out which compression was right for you was by trial and error. Thankfully modern technology has now given us a simple formula which works great.

    A 70 compression ball should be used by a golfer who's clubhead speed with their driver is 70 mph, an 80 compression ball should be used by a golfer with an 80 mph clubhead speed, 90 with 90 and 100 with 100.

    While this may not be scientific, it is logical and it works.

    WARNING: Always remember on a hot day rubber expands and ball compression lowers. For example a 90 compression ball will react more like an 80 in 100 degree temperature and a 100 compression like a 90.

    In cold weather the reverse is true. For example in 50 degree temperature an 80 compression ball will react more like a 90 compression and a 100 compression ball will react more like a rock.

    More information on how to improve your game is available at

    (c)2000 by Pat Dolan Golf Pro

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