Take it from someone who has watched some of the best golfers in the world conduct ball testing: they don’t go about the process the same way as most recreational golfers. That probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but it’s worth taking a closer look at what makes their club-ball pairing process so successful.
If the average golfer is considering a ball change, he’s most likely taking it on the course — or maybe even the range — to get a good feel for how the ball performs. Professional golfers go about testing the same way, except they usually start the process around the green.
Let’s use Tiger Woods as an example.
Instead of heading straight for the driving range to see how it performs, Woods spends an inordinate amount of time working his way around the putting green, getting a sense of how the ball sounds and feels coming off the putter face. From there, he’ll work his way back to see how it reacts around the green before finally making his way to the range.
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During a recent interview on GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, Ping Tour rep Kenton Oates reiterated the importance of seeing how your prospective ball stacks up with your putter and wedges.
“I think pros do a really good job of making sure their ball matches their putter and wedges, and they kind work backwards from there,” Oates said. “That’s my number one thing.”
“If you’re going to look into changing balls or playing a certain ball, make sure your wedges and putter work around that. You’ll figure it out with your driver. If it’s 2 or 3 yards difference [with the driver], it really doesn’t matter. You hit your wedges and putters to make the Tour. I think the pros do a really good job of really understanding what changes they make and how they’re going to affect their score. They may lose a little bit here but know they’re going to gain a lot in more important areas.”
The ball may be a home-run with the driver, but if it doesn’t perform with the wedges or have a pleasing feel coming off the putter face, it’s likely not the right ball for you. Just think about all the shots you hit with a scoring club and putter during the course of a round.
So the next time you pick up a new ball and consider the idea of conducting your own ball testing, take an hour to roll some putts and work your way through different pitch and chip shots around the green. If the ball passes the short game test, it’s definitely worth pursuing.
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