I doubt there’s a golfer alive who gave any thought to what ball they would be using when they started playing golf. In a beginner, this is understandable – even acceptable – but once a high handicap golfer starts the process of lowering their handicap, ball choice is vital. So which are the best golf balls for a high handicap golfer?
These are my top eight best golf balls for a high-handicap golfer looking to lower their handicap:
- Callaway Supersoft
- Bridgestone e12
- Bridgestone e6
- TaylorMade Noodle: Long & Soft
- Callaway Supersoft MAX
- Vice Pro Soft
- Wilson Duo Soft +
- Titleist TruFeel
For an alarming number of golfers of both genders, ball choice is the last thing to be considered, while the golfer occupies the higher echelons of handicap.
Once the bug bites (and it bites hard!), golfers tend to buy the best of everything they can afford, starting with clubs, a bag, shoes, towels, caps, and even tees.
Sadly, buying golf balls is most often an afterthought. And a box is often chosen purely on price and added to the cart, yet they are integral to any golf game. This is especially true for seniors, who may benefit from choosing the best golf balls for seniors to optimize their game.
Characteristics Of Beginners And High Handicappers
A beginner is generally considered a golfer who consistently plays a round of 18 holes with no great shots. (However, no matter how bad you are, you will improve to a certain point after several months of regular play.)
A high-handicap golfer will regularly play 18 holes on an average 72-par course in 96 to 110 shots but can hit amazing shots once or twice a round, often unexpectedly.
A beginner is always a high handicapper, but the latter is not always a beginner, though they can stay a high handicap golfer for many months, years, or even decades. Some never leave this level.
How Do You Advance from High Handicapper?
You may be someone who put in the hours at a driving range, only to find that the course is far crueler than the range. Sure, the trees, bunkers, and water hazards do play a part, but the chief variable is one you may not have considered – the ball.
You might hit hundreds of balls at the range over several visits, and for the most part, they go pretty much where you’re aiming, but the balls you hit on the course tend to disappear into the rough far too often. Chances are excellent that you are not playing with one of the best golf balls for a high handicapper.
Most driving range balls have a 2-piece construction with a solid core and extremely hard outer layer, as they need to take a pounding daily.
They must resist cutting from wild swings and scuffing from mis-hit shots and offer minimal spin as a result. This gives them longevity and gives you a ball that will go pretty straight.
Give yourself the best chance of shooting a decent score and lowering your handicap by playing with the best ball for your game. It’s a no-brainer.
Attributes Of The Best Golf Balls For A High Handicap Golfer
The ball should fly in a straight line. This doesn’t mean you can whack it all over the place and expect a good score. Your poor shots will still be punished, but a high handicapper’s ball is manufactured to fly as straight as possible, and damage from slices and hooks will be limited.
For this to occur, you want to limit the phenomenon of driver spin, which also applies to long irons. If hit correctly, a ball should fly off the clubface and travel far, finishing with a gentle draw or fade pattern.
The core in tour-level balls is usually hard, with three, four, or even five layers employed by the manufacturers, and these balls require a breakneck swing speed (105 mph plus) to compress the core and achieve the desired result. A slower swing speed will not generate enough speed for the ball to explode off the club.
In addition, these multi-layered balls offer too much spin for a high handicapper, particularly off the tee, and tend to be hooked and sliced with regularity.
A golf ball with a soft core is easier to compress and thus requires less force, which for most of us, myself included, allows us to swing in a controlled manner. We’ve all seen senior golfers hit effortless shots, usually up the middle (regardless of distance), followed by a shot to the green that may be short but avoids all hazards.
Durability And Budget
A durable ball will last for many rounds and gives you the peace of mind of knowing you aren’t going to be damaging the ball each time you strike it correctly, particularly with your shorter irons.
Fortunately, a two-piece ball is durable and affordable, as no one likes to lose balls, but if you are playing with expensive 3, 4, or 5-piece balls, you are less likely to swing smoothly over water hazards, etc.
Without some measure of greenside spin, a golf ball launched at the green may drop and then run through the green instead of spinning backward slightly and coming to a stop.
A low-spinning ball with be straighter off the tee box and, instead of checking up on landing, will roll on more than a high-spinning ball, so it is ideal for a high-handicap golfer. It is possible to get ball spin rates in RPM (revolutions per minute) from most manufacturers’ websites.
The Best Golf Balls for a High Handicap Golfer Are…
Not all golf balls are created equal, and what I have tried to avoid here are balls that will provide instant gratification but disappoint you closer to the pin. There is no point in choosing a ball that explodes off the tee but lets you down where it counts – around the green.
Drive for show but putt for dough, as the adage goes.
As a high handicap golfer, regardless of gender, I suggest you primarily consider spin and compression when buying a golf ball because a good decision in this department will get you off the tee correctly and keep you on the fairway before delivering your ball to the hole. The other ball attributes are important but secondary.
- The Callaway Superset is a long, straight distance ball that’s incredibly soft
- An ultra low compression core promotes fast ball speed and increased accuracy
- New Low Drag HEX Aerodynamics are optimized to reduce drag and enhance lift for longer carry and longer distance
These balls are long and fly straight with an incredibly soft feel and a very low-compression core. This core provides low spin, resulting in long, straight flights. The dimples are hexagonal, providing increased lift while reducing drag, and as your game improves, it will allow better shot-shaping.
The Callaway Supersoft is a well-known golf ball among golfers from mid to high handicappers and is highly respected. The low compression rating of 38 assists a high handicapper in compressing the ball sufficiently on impact to drive the ball long and accurately. The softness allows tight control around the green.
The Paraloid Impact Modifier in Callaway’s cover generates high launch and low spin, maintaining excellent spin control of the shorter irons, and is surprisingly durable. Developed by Dow Chemical Co. in Michigan, the proprietary cover is aimed at high handicappers who usually struggle with a slice or hook, exacerbated by a high-spinning ball.
The ball is very responsive off the shorter clubs and, despite being a two-piece ball, is very soft in the hands, particularly off gap- and lob wedges.
This would suit all high handicappers, assisting with the posting of better scores as their game improves and providing a ball that makes playing – and improving – fun.
Pros of the Callaway Supersoft Golf Ball
- Aerodynamic dimples limit drag through the air
- Launch is high
- Flies straight and accurately off the clubface
Cons of the Callaway Supersoft Golf Ball
- None I could find
- CONTACT FORCE DIMPLE creates 38% more surface contact between the golf ball and the club for more efficient energy transfer
- STRAIGHT DISTANCE – Longer and straighter flight with driver and every other club in your bag
- IMPROVED FEEL – Softer core contributes to significantly enhanced feel on all shots
The Bridgestone e12 is a three-piece ball offering straight trajectory and flight, consistent distance, and improved greenside control. As a three-piece, it will provide more spin than a two-piece, so high handicappers who find themselves in the lower reaches of this category (say 18-22) will love this ball.
It does provide a rapid launch but requires a bit more clubhead speed and accuracy than most higher handicappers can offer, so for handicaps above 22, I’d try the Bridgestone e6 instead and give this ball a miss for the moment.
The ionomer cover is not as durable as a premium urethane ball, but the Contact Force Dimples increase friction on low-impact shots (your short irons), keeping the ball on the clubface as much as 30% longer.
This extra contact allows the grooves to gain the maximum revolutions per minute (rpm), which is vital for touch and control around the green. (An excellent time to remind high handicappers of the importance of clean grooves!)
The sidespin-reducing mantle inserted between the core and ionomer skin restricts the sidespin at impact. High handicappers can best test this because a low handicapper will have no issue striking most balls, so I cornered two friends: The result was very pleasing, with a noticeable improvement off the tee and both players hitting the fairway continually.
With a compression rating of 60, it’s ideal for slower swing speeds, giving high handicappers more control. It makes perfect sense that the less wildly you feel you must swing, the more control and shape in your game.
Pros of the Bridgestone e12 Golf Ball
- High launch
- Limited driver spin
Cons of the Bridgestone e12 Golf Ball
- Higher-priced than some other distance golf balls
- Not suitable for highest handicappers
- NEW! e6 is the SOFT FEEL, LONG DISTANCE golf ball
- REENGINEERED for MORE POWER and FEEL
- MORE POWER – softer and larger core for faster compression and LONGER DISTANCE
Unlike Bridgestone’s e12, the Bridgestone e6 utilizes a two-piece construction and meets our requirements for an excellent ball to improve your handicap. This improvement could be as much as 12 shots per round – realistically! – so, never underestimate a ball’s effect. After all, it’s the only piece of equipment you play on every shot.
Hitting your second shot from the rough means you will need an incredible strike to reach the green (par 40), and while you will get the odd, impressive strike, it is far easier to approach the green after a good straight drive leaves your ball on the fairway.
Less friction, less hazard = more sense, more success.
With a softer core and less spin, the e6 still provides reasonable spin around the green and is an ideal choice for a high handicapper. The even better news is the low price, and if you lose as many balls as I did as a high handicapper, budget is crucial.
That said, these balls will fly straighter, and your losses will shrink; keep a record – you’ll be amazed at the change.
You may have to change your stance if you’ve been aiming across the fairway to allow for a slice or hook.
Pros of the Bridgestone e6 Golf Ball
- Significantly reduces slices and hooks
- The ball flies straight off the tee box
- Reasonable spin around the greens
- Very well-priced
Cons of the Bridgestone e6 Golf Ball
- May limit high handicappers in the lower echelons (18-22)
TaylorMade Noodle: Long & Soft
- Durable and soft IOTHANE cover
- Impact propulsion core for longer carry
- Great feel and increased spin around the greens
The Long and Soft is a 2-piece-constructed ball using an ionomer cover and an impact propulsion core. The surface restricts long-iron spin while increasing distance and gives a confidence-boosting feel around the green.
Caveat: Distance from the tee box is generally increased when the ball is a two-piece construction, as discussed, but for me, added distance is not overly critical. Drives that find the fairway will almost always be closer to the pin than wayward shots into the rough, anyway.
Given a low compression rating of 34, the TaylorMade Noodle Long & Soft golf ball gives plenty of spring off the clubface to the slower-swinging golfers among us. The 342 dimples are engineered for premium lift and cause the ball to fly incredibly straight, so those 6-irons into the green can be hit with confidence.
Pros of the TaylorMade Noodle: Long & Soft Golf Ball
- The soft core’s compression provides ultimate spring from the clubface
- Very affordable golf balls
- Provides consistent length
- Feels great on strike
Cons of the TaylorMade Noodle: Long & Soft Golf Ball
- Marginal spin around the green (no issue for 23-and higher handicappers)
Callaway Supersoft MAX
- Item Package Dimension: 7.7165354252L x 5.6299212541W x 2.0078740137H inches
- Item Package Weight - 1.43520932562 Pounds
- Item Package Quantity - 1
This golf ball will seem a little weird when you first look at it, as it seems bigger than usual, and that’s because it is bigger than expected. The balls you and I generally play with are 1.680” (42.7mm) in diameter, and no golf ball may legally be smaller than this.
Larger is fine, however, provided the ball weighs no more than 1.620 oz (45.9g), and this is what Callaway has achieved with the supersoft MAX.
It’s ideal for most high handicappers because it is larger than a standard golf ball, making it easier to see and hit. This should help senior golfers also, with eyesight waning with the passing of years.
The Callaway Supersoft MAX is 3% larger, with a diameter of 1.73 inches, which is perfectly legal for all tournaments worldwide. The increase in size is intended to encourage better contact and provide increased run-on once the ball descends.
Unlike the Callaway Supersoft, this golf ball features a tri-blend ionomer cover rather than one of Paraloid, which produces a similar result of reduced spin from a durable ball. Like the non-MAX version, it reduces drag and increases lift via the HEX Aerodynamic Dimples.
At the time of writing this article, I have not yet had the pleasure of hitting these balls, but I am keen to do so.
Pros of the Callaway Supersoft MAX Golf Ball
- Larger ball, so easier to focus on where to strike
- It flies straight and far by all accounts.
Cons of the Callaway Supersoft MAX Golf Ball
- Not as durable as some other balls. (However, you will lose fewer golf balls and spend less time hunting your ball)
Vice Pro Soft
- 3 piece cast urethane cover
- Low compression for extra-soft and responsive feel
- Extremely durable 336 dimple design
The Vice Pro Soft is a three-piece ball that has got to be included in this list. Unlike most other balls, the Pro Soft contains both Surlyn and Urethane. The former is in a mantle between the core and cover to reduce driver and long-iron spin, and the latter (the cover) to increase greenside spin and provide an improved feel.
Vice came to the US from Germany in 2015 and won a gold medal from Golf Digest in the early years despite being a relatively new company. Sure, high handicappers have all heard of Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, and Wilson, but some of the newer companies offer fantastic options, often at a way better price.
Vice has produced a core with a 35 compression rating which is an outstanding choice for high handicappers with slow to medium swing speeds (below 100mph.)
With fewer dimples (318) than many other golf balls, the Vice Pro Soft provides a reliable and stable flight pattern with good length. It also carries an alignment aid which seems to be what golfers need for putting these days and boasts stick-to-the-green technology, which keeps the ball on the clubface marginally longer.
Pros of the Vice Pro Soft Golf Ball
- This is a straight shooter and ideal for the high handicapper seeking control over long distances
- Very affordable
- Good feel through the hands
Cons of the Vice Pro Soft Golf Ball
- None for me
Wilson Duo Soft +
Strangely, Wilson seems less popular these days, and it has been years since I have played with anyone using one. Indeed, I had never played with a Wilson Duo Soft+, but I wish I had when playing off those lofty handicaps – perhaps my journey to mid handicapper would have been shorter!
All golfers desire distance, spin consistency, and accuracy, but very few balls offer this to high handicappers, which is nuts if you consider that there are far more handicappers than single-digit players buying balls out there.
This is a two-piece ball with a surlyn cover to add spin and a compression rating of 35, which, as we have seen, means slower swing speeds can be employed, increasing accuracy and distance over the longer clubs. Lift and control are aided by a 302 dimple pattern on this cover.
I once read a review calling this ball ‘buttery soft,’ and it honestly is, giving a good response and reasonable spin when the ball descends to the green.
Pros of the Wilson Duo Soft + Golf Ball
- Ideal for high handicappers’ slower swing-speeds
- Flies straight
- Great feel
Cons of the Wilson Duo Soft + Golf Ball
- Not the most durable golf ball
Titleist is the most recognized name in golf and golfing equipment, so you may be surprised to see the name included in this list of Best Golf Balls for High Handicap golfers, but it meets the criteria and deserves its place.
How does the Titleist TruFeel suit a high-handicap golfer? Using the newly developed larger TruTouch core and their TruFlex cover, Titleist has produced a ball that offers impressive distance and a soft feel, exactly what you need to start dropping that handicap.
If you’re finding your ball off the tee tends to slide off into the rough too often, the lack of driver spin on the TruFeel may help, but that’s presuming you are presently playing off a premium ball which provides too much spin off the tee for your present level of play. The change from a three-piece to this two-piece ball is noticeable immediately.
Pros of the Titleist TruFeel Golf Ball
- Flight is accurate
- Limited Driver spin
- It feels soft off the club
Cons of the Titleist TruFeel Golf Ball
- Not ideal for higher swing-speeds
Not all high handicappers have a low swing speed, so you might want to get yours measured at a facility in your area.
I HIGHLY recommend this step!
Also, if you are swinging wildly to reach this faster speed – I was guilty of this – you are harming your golf. Find your actual swing speed with the help of available technology and adjust your game accordingly.
Conclusion: Best Golf Balls for High Handicappers
Playing with used balls that you buy from the caddies is the norm for most high handicappers, though some do progress to purchasing new balls, often from a chain store and usually in the budget bracket. This is fine if you are happy to retain your present handicap, but if you want to improve, use the correct ball for your game.
This does not mean the most expensive ball, but rather one that helps your game.
Once you can hit straight consistently, consider moving to a three-piece ball for more control and feel around the greens. Until then, stick to a two-piece ball or one of the three-piece golf balls mentioned in my list. Never settle for mediocre.