Buy Better: The best ball inside 125 yards

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Want to find out which ball performs best inside 125 yards? We asked three of the world’s top ball experts to explain how you can select one that will help you get up and down more often.

Longer, faster, higher launching, more spin, less spin, softer feel, whiter, rounder... we’ve heard all the claims imaginable when it comes to golf balls.

But we wanted to know if there’s a best ball for inside 125 yards and, if there is, how you can find your perfect scoring ball. We asked the game’s leading ball designers to help us out.

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Best ball inside 125 yards: Asking the experts

Dave Bartells 
Senior Director of Golf Ball Research at Callaway Golf

Jeff Brunski 
Director of Research & Development at Srixon/Cleveland Golf

Eric Loper 
Director of Golf Ball Research & Development at TaylorMade

The Golf Ball experts


When it comes to finding your perfect ball from 125 yards in, should we start testing on the green or a full wedge shot away?

DB: Start with your wedges and hit a variety of shots from 125 yards and work your way to the green. Better players hit different shots that require more spin to check shots up; if your game doesn’t demand that you may not need a higher-price ball.

JB: There’s not a one-size- fits-all approach, but you need to assess how you value spin
on approach shots and around the green. Urethane covers (on premium balls) maximise greenside control. If spin is not a high priority, consider the AD333 or Soft Feel (which have ionomer covers) based on feel.

EL: Work your way towards the green. Hit full and half-shots and note how each feels and reacts on landing. Once you have a preference, use that ball for the rest of the round. If you question a shot’s performance, hit a second ball with one of the other options and continue to re-evaluate.

How much difference is there in golf ball covers when hit with a full wedge?

DB: The single biggest difference between golf balls and their price points is the cover material. Urethane spins more than ionomer (surlyn). That’s why players needing maximum spin gravitate towards urethane.
All tour balls have some version of urethane covers.

JB: The difference between covers is most noticeable on short game shots. Our AD333 Tour urethane cover is twice as soft as an ionomer cover, and we’ve seen 1000rpm difference between it and an ionomer equivalent.

EL: Generally there’s two cover materials, urethane and ionomer (surlyn). Urethane covers dominate on Tour as they’re softer and generate more control around the green. Ionomer covers are less expensive, but strike a decent balance between speed and feel.

Is any ball in your range more accurate inside 125 yards?

DB: Our Chrome Soft spins a little less than the Chrome Soft X, which aids accuracy. The softer compression means mishits still fully compress the ball which produces more consistent results than a firmer ball.

JB: If you equate accuracy with having maximum control the highest-spinning balls (Z-Star Series and AD333 Tour) will be best. If you equate accuracy with less hook or slice spin the AD333 thanks to its lower spin will produce straighter shots.

EL: It’s player-dependent. But for anything less than a full wedge shot the average player can expect similar performance from each of the TP5 / TP5x and Project (a). As the compressions are different, though, feel will change from ball to ball.

Should golfers really be looking for maximum spin with the wedge?

DB: It depends on the player. Most average golfers don’t have the ability to take spin off shots, so we normally say 9000rpm is a good target. A non-tour ball (ionomer cover) though could only deliver 6000rpm from a clean lie, but even less from a bad lie.

JB: Golfers should always look for equipment that maximises spin on full wedge shots. Having the ability to maximise spin when needed and control spin when they want to is key to short-game performance.

EL: Golfers should look for a ball that allows them to target the pin. The goal should be to have the ball hit the green and stop as quickly as possible, minimising roll out or pull back.

How much can using the wrong ball affect spin inside 125 yards?

DB: We design balls to have maximum spin from 40 yards and not necessarily maximum spin for a full wedge shot. You could expect to see a few thousand rpm difference between a low-compression ionomer-covered ball and higher-compression urethane-covered ball when hit with a wedge.

JB: It depends on shot type and player, but a poorly fitted ball can cost a player 2000rpm. 2000 fewer rpm on shots inside 125 yards makes it difficult to control around the green.

EL: We like to see 9000rpm of spin on full wedge shots for stopping the ball on a green. I’ve seen players hit our Project (a) versus a two-piece ionomer ball and gain more than 2000rpm of spin.

What’s the best bit of advice you can give a golfer looking for their perfect ball from 125?

DB: Hit a variety of shots and play the ball that gives you the most confidence. Sometimes it’s not the ball with the best launch monitor numbers – it’s the ball that helps you score!

JB: The biggest difference in performance is spin. Decide if playing a tour-level ball with a urethane cover is worth it for your game. Once you’ve decided, it’s a narrower choice. You can fit yourself on feel and how the ball performs for the rest of your game. 

EL: The goal is to find the ball that maximises iron performance, heightens control around the green and provides the right level of feel based on each individual’s preference.

Want to read more? Why not check out our 2017 Golf Ball Test