Why are some golf balls so expensive?

Thomas Tanner
Apr 22, 2020
4 minutes

The idea of a golf ball is to get you from the tee peg to the bottom of the cup. But like cars, which all get you from A to B, some are more expensive than others. But why? Donal offers up a Titleist Pro V1, the #1 ball in golf, to science to explore the vast research and development which goes into your golf ball.

When you look at the inside of a golf ball for the first time, you'll immediately notice the various layers which make up the 'pieces' of a golf ball. The Titleist Pro V1 is a 3-piece golf ball, so has three layers, while the Pro V1X is a 4-piece golf ball. There are golf balls on the market from 2-piece, for example, the Srixon Distance, to the 5-piece TaylorMade TP5. The economics is simple, more layers mean more research, which means more money, and therefore a higher retail price.

All golf balls start life as a core, made from a synthetic compound, and as a minimum also feature a cover. It's the materials used in these which play some part in the price.

Looking at the Pro V1X specifically there are two cores which are the engines of the golf balls and deliver the distance. They're accessed when the high clubhead speeds from a driver compress the ball. Titleist uses a combination of the most advanced formulation and processing capabilities to deliver high speed, low spin cores to Pro V1 and Pro V1x.

Beyond this is the first cover, where spin is optimised and being closer to the surface, this layer is activated at the slower clubhead speeds used for approach shots.

The final layer is the cover and one that people pay the most attention. The proprietary cast thermoset urethane elastomer cover on the Titleist Pro V1 balls provides the scoring control. While great for generating high spin on approach shots and short game shots, the cover itself does not contribute speed and distance. By reducing the cover thickness without sacrificing control (by 17% for the 2019 Pro V1), Titleist can make the inner layers larger and add more yards to your game.

However, by doing this brings around questions on durability. All golfers, especially amateurs, will not want to have to change their ball every few holes - another trade-off which takes hours and hours of research and testing to optimise.

Along the way, each Pro V1 is subject to over 90 quality control check to make sure each ball is perfect and warrants being stamped with the Titleist logo. These checks increase to over 120 for the Titleist Pro V1X. Away from Titleist, every Callaway Chrome Soft ball passes through an X-Ray machine to ensure cores are perfectly central as part of the quality control process.

For more information watch the video by Titleist below or visit their website.

Hopefully, this has explained why the price for a dozen golf balls differs so much, and more importantly explained the tremendous amount of science, research, and manufacturing that goes into developing the best golf balls on the market.

Further reading

If you are spending your hard-earned cash on a dozen premium golf balls, you want some assurances that you are getting your monies worth - as you'd get a lot more balls if you went down the budget option.

Along with your clubs and a bag to carry them in, golf balls are fundamental to being able to play golf - after all, the only objective is to get the ball into the hole.