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Drewspin recently dug up this Andrew Rice feature in which Rice does a nice job quantifying the relationship between  driving distance and golf ball design.  Four different generations of Titleist balls were evaluated with the a modern driver.  A club pro with a tour caliber swing speed hit six drives with each ball and the results were averaged.  A Trackman system was used to collect the data.  Here are the results:

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Tour Balata 100

  • Total Distance 261.6 yds
  • Carry 224.7 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.1 mph
  • Ball Speed 160.7 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.46
  • Attack Angle -0.4 degrees
  • Spin Loft 9.0 degrees
  • Launch Angle 6.5 degrees
  • Spin 2789 rpm

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Professional 90

  • Total Distance 262.1 yds
  • Carry 251.9 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.6 mph
  • Ball Speed 161.4 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.45
  • Attack Angle -1.1 degrees
  • Spin Loft 6.9 degrees
  • Launch Angle 6.5 degrees
  • Spin 2915 rpm

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Pro V1 – 392

  • Total Distance 286.4 yds
  • Carry 251.9 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.1 mph
  • Ball Speed 164.7 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.50
  • Attack Angle -3.0 degrees
  • Spin Loft 10.8 degrees
  • Launch Angle 6.5 degrees
  • Spin 2739 rpm

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Pro V1 New

  • Total Distance 298.4 yds
  • Carry 271.1 yds
  • Clubhead Speed 110.8 mph
  • Ball Speed 167.2 mph
  • Smash Factor 1.51
  • Attack Angle -3.1 degrees
  • Spin Loft 11.7 degrees
  • Launch Angle 7. degrees
  • Spin 2850 rpm

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Here’s a summary I put together:

Really not much difference between the two wound balls.  The distance from the 1st ProV1 is up about 9% from the wound balls and there’s another 4% bump to the new ProV1 for a total increase of around 13% from the wound balls to the newest ProV1.   This is pretty much inline with estimates I’ve heard from the professionals at Advanced Ball Striking when talking about distance increases.

The takeaway here is that if ball distance is up 13% then courses should represent a 13% length increase to have pros hitting the same clubs for approaches and playing the holes as they were intended.  That means a course that was 7,000 yards would need to be played at 7,910 yards to offer the same challenges.  As long as PGA tour courses are at 7,500-7,600 yards we won’t be seeing long iron approaches or 3-shot par 5′s anytime soon.

 

One Response to “Golf Ball Distances – An Empirical Study by Andrew Rice”

  1. Avatar of Blade Junkie Blade Junkie says:

    What would be fun would be some analysis of every ball available today, but hit with a persimmon driver, to see which ball out there in the market is optimal for play with classic persimmon. Anyone own a Trackman ? I wonder if the best result for a persimmon would still be the Pro V1 or a softer, more spinny ball that mimics a balata.

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