What is a soft golf ball, you ask?
A soft golf ball, sometimes referred to as a low compression golf ball, is a golf ball that deforms easier under pressure. Hard golf balls deform less than soft golf balls when they’re hit.
Why would someone want a soft golf ball?
If you have a slower swing speed, it can be difficult to fully activate the core of your golf ball. That means you leave distance on the table almost every time you play with a ball that has a higher compression.
A firm or high compression golf ball is best utilized by golfers with medium to high swing speeds. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, you should be looking for a low compression (bka “soft”) ball if you want to get more distance on the golf course.
What qualifies as a soft golf ball?
There is some debate on this, but generally speaking, a soft golf ball has a compression rating of 40-95. Anything above a 95 is considered to be firm.
There are plenty of disclaimers that I can add to this standard. Here are a few:
- A ball with a 95 compression rating would be considered soft to a PGA Tour player.
- There is a big difference between a ball with a compression of 40 and a ball with a compression of 95.
- Just because a ball has soft in the name, it doesn’t mean it’s actually soft.
The standard that golf ball manufacturers like to use puts soft golf balls in the 40-95 compression range. For the purposes of this write-up, I’ll stay within their boundaries.
What is the Softest Golf Ball on the Market?
The Wilson DUO Soft+ is the softest golf ball on the market with a compression rating of just 35. This is a distance ball designed to maximize the power in one’s swing.
Key features include:
- Surlyn cover
- 302 dimple pattern
- Low spin
- Two piece construction
If you’re looking to experiment with a soft golf ball, the Wilson DUO Soft+ is a logical place to start.
A second option would be one of the popular offerings from Callaway Golf, many of which have soft in the name (Chrome Soft X, etc.). Start with the Callaway Supersoft (instead of the Chrome Soft golf ball which is more expensive and for more advanced players).
Key features of the Supersoft include:
- 38 compression
- Hybrid cover
- Maximum ball speed
- High launch
- Low spin
- Two piece construction
Although soft golf balls have grown more popular in recent years, this does not mean that purchasing a dozen is as straightforward as it should be.
Certain manufacturers may label a ball soft when it is not a truly soft ball. When a marketing term is hot, companies will ride that horse as long as they can. Yee-haw!
The two golf balls that I highlighted above are among the softest, but if you want some other options, check out the list below. These balls also deliver a low compression and solid performance.
- Pinnacle Soft golf ball
- Srixon Soft Feel
- Titleist Tour Soft
- Vice Pro Soft
Do Soft Golf Balls Go Further? The Case for Playing a Softer Ball
If you are a high handicapper with a slower swing speed, a softer golf ball will go further for you than a harder golf ball. When the softer ball hits the face of your club, it will compress easier and activate the energy potential of the core. With a higher compression golf ball, it is tougher to activate that core unless you have a fast swing speed.
But softer golf balls aren’t just for high handicappers. If you’re an experienced player with a slower swing speed, you will also gain extra distance from a soft ball.
These golf balls will feel better off the golf club, fly straighter with a decent hit and maximize ball flight / distance.
There are different levels of soft golf balls. A beginner should look for a simple, two piece surlyn cover ball. These balls are affordable and hit all the marks for a budget-friendly soft golf ball.
More experienced players can pursue some of the fancier, multi-layer urethane balls, like the Chrome Soft. These balls are still soft, but they may offer better short game control or a slightly higher compression rating.
There is a common misconception that a Titleist Pro V1 is the best golf ball one can buy. There’s no doubt that the Pro V1 golf ball is a great feat of manufacturing, but it isn’t designed for every golfer. The Pro V1 is best used by skilled golfers with faster swing speeds…that’s why you see it on the Tour.
Another example: Tiger Woods plays with the Bridgestone Tour B X ball, but that doesn’t mean you should. Bridgestone Golf tailored that ball specifically to his game.
Why Soft Golf Balls Came to Be
Golf can be a wonderful and rewarding sport if you have the patience to develop your game. That’s why golf companies try to equip you with the right tools for the job.
In the grand history of golf, the golf ball is probably the piece of equipment that has changed and evolved the most over the years.
Original golf balls were made from balls of stitched leather, which had been stuffed with feathers – earning them the nickname “featheries”.
Since then we have also seen the rise and fall of many different golf ball types – from the gutta percha to the rubber Haskell. And although the shape of the ball hasn’t changed much, there is one thing that has been constantly evolving – and that is the softness of the ball itself.
These days, the soft golf ball is growing in popularity. Nearly every major brand offers a category of soft golf balls.
Thanks to new technology and capabilities, these balls continue defy past constraints and companies continue to experiment with their potential.
What is Golf Ball Compression?
In the world of golf, golf balls are categorized by their compression – which means how quickly they disfigure (or compress) when placed under a large amount of pressure.
If your golf ball comes with a low compression number, then this means that it is soft – although there is no universal method for measuring golf ball compression.
Different golf ball manufacturers use different methods to determine the compression of their products.
What are the Characteristics of a Soft Ball?
Although we can determine the softness of a golf ball by using compression, this does not mean that the definition of the word “soft” is universal among all golf players and manufacturers.
As we have previously mentioned, golf ball companies use different means to determine the softness of their balls, which means one manufacturer’s idea of softness could be a bit different from another’s.
However, there are certain characteristics that softer golf balls all share, and these elements are what makes soft golf balls a popular choice among dedicated players.
It is agreed among most golfers that soft balls spin less than harder golf balls, so they often travel further than golf balls with a higher compression.
This isn’t a universal truth, however. LPGA and PGA Tour players hit the ball hard enough and fast enough to activate the core of their hard golf balls. But for the average player, a soft ball will have better carry distance.
Because soft golf balls are known to spin less when they are hit, this makes it harder to shape shots and control the ball around the green.
Another characteristic of a soft ball that everyone can agree upon is that the ball actually has a soft feel upon impact. A golfer won’t feel like they’re hitting a rock when they tee off.
What Else Can I Say?
I think I’ve addressed the “What is a Soft Golf Ball” question in plenty of detail. Now its time for you to hit the links!