Consumer Reports Rates Golf Balls

I haven’t read the issue because I don’t subscribe, but Consumer Reports has apparently rated golf balls in their April 11 issue. According to their press release, they tested 25 balls for distance, spin and feel.

Some of their results:

  • When struck by an Iron Byron, every ball went pretty much the same distance. Three of the under $15 a dozen balls went farther than 7 higher priced balls.
  • In some cases, the less expensive balls had a softer feel
  • All of the balls had a low spin rate off the driver
  • The more expensive balls were more accurate, but they discounted that, saying that most players aren’t good enough to take advantage of that.

The best expensive balls were: Nike One Black, Callaway HX Tour, Titleist Pro V1, the Ben Hogan Tour deep and the Top Flite Strata TL-Tour. For most golfers, they recommended the Nike Power Distance Super Soft, the Callaway HX Hot, the Pinnacle Gold Distance and the Pinnacle Exception. For those with slower swings, they recommended the Titleist DT So-Lo, the Precept Lady and the Pinnacle Exception.

All that said, I think that you have to be a bit skeptical of Consumer Reports. These are, after all, the same people that failed to list a single American car in their last auto report.

And before you start making cracks about American cars, consider the flawed Consumer Reports methodology: their system was weighted toward the cars chosen by their subscribers. Then consider who actually subscribes to the magazine rather than going to the library to look at it: upper income, liberal, college educated types—people who would look down their noses at a Chevrolet even if it were proven beyond a doubt to be the best car in the world. That’s the same sort of flawed methodology that sunk the 1936 Literary Digest presidential poll.

So before you can take anything Consumer Reports says seriously, you have to look at their methodology. And there just isn’t enough in the press release to do an analysis. I will say, however, that there is a lot more to rating a ball than individually considering distance, spin and feel. You have to consider thiese things in combination with each other, with sacrificing a little of one for a little of another. And there’s also the ability to shape a shot, launch angle, how long it hangs in the air, etc.

Take the distance rating for example. I would not only like to know how far it went, but how far it carried, and how long it rolled.

Guess I’m going to have to got to the library with all of the other Chevy drivers and take a look at the issue.

6 thoughts on “Consumer Reports Rates Golf Balls”

  1. Ok Blogger- don’t know if I start with the cars or the balls.
    Lets go cars-  I surely cannot defend Consumer Reports on whatever they are doing to rate cars.  In 1992, I had an 84 Toyota, and my dad had a 78 Olds wagon.  Both had about 180k miles, and I would defy any consumer reports hack to tell us the Toyota was any better than the GM—in fact, I would be willing to bet the lifetime repairs were higher on the Toyota than the GM.  Right now I am driving a 96 ‘Stang Convertible with 90k miles, which drives as good as new—solid build—but I do admittedly need a new roof.  My mother’s 04 Envoy and my wife’s 05 Grand Cherokee I defy anyone to find a Japanese SUV better built than either.

    Ok, but not other than cars- Consumer Reports has never steered me wrong on a vacuum, which is about the only thing I look at their reviews for.  But I am intrigued by the golfball test.  I don’t think anything that one of the Golf Magazines can be taken for a grain of salt, just like the Computer magazines, I think they are just paid advertisements instead of reviews.

    How much could these balls really be different?  I think they are different, but is that because I am paying $3.50 for one ball over a $2 ball or $1 ball?  Just like my Callaway clubs, I feel better about playing with a Pro V1 than I do a Top Flight XL.  Definately I spend a little more time looking for it in the rough, or trying to get it out of the lake!  I have put it on here before—I am trying to find the right $2 or less ball.  I really like the Bridgestone e5, and will be switching between that and the Callaway HX Hot this year, depending on how I feel and what I want to play with—The e5 does get the ball up higher, which I need.  I like the DT SoLo too.

  2. Golfblogger – first off, great site!  I love the concept.  I’ll be cruising by often to check things out.  I hung out here tonight and read several posts.  Keep up the good work.

    Now for the comments about Consumer Reports.  Ever own an American car?  If so, you;ll know why they don’t mak ethe list.  After about 15 years of Toyotas, I decided to try a GMC Sierra when they offered their 0% financing after 911.  I tolerated that truck for about 18 months, then had to go back to Toyota.  Nuff said there.

    On the balls, I just have one question for Consumer Reports:  How do you rate “feel”?  Seems like this is completely subjective and and impossible to quantify.  That being said, an one definitely **can** objectively measure distance with an iron byron.  Its nice to know that all the balls have the same distance.  At least I can take that facor completely out of my selection criteria (it was almost out already).

    I may try to get a copy of that CR because I’d like to see spin rates on these balls.  So many manufacturers claim low spin-rates off the driver, but high spin-rates with irons.  How does the ball know what club is hitting it?

  3. Hi Blogger,

    I see the humor in your post. Some people take opinions way too seriously.

    About cars, I am in San Antonio, TX, it gets hot here. I was test driving some used cars the other day (MPG hunting). The ‘02 VW Beetle’s interior build was falling apart from yearly heat damage. The ‘01 Honda Civic held up better. I own a 99 Chevy Prism, it is not doing very well on the interior build category. All vehicles are running fine. That’s my two cents.

    About golf balls, I find a lot of golf balls. I have a bulging 33 gallon trash can full of them. I like to try different balls if I find enough of one brand and “model”. I played Titleist NXT Tours this weekend. They held the greens on approach shots. Good distance off of the tee. You have to have at least six of them because the grooves of your irons/wedges will put a serious beating on the cover and the shavings stay inside your grooves. Use them for tournament play, not recreational golf. Best ball in this $25 price range is Callaway HX Hot. Doesn’t hold the green as good as NXT but your much closer to the green off the tee, so you play a different shot anyway. Best cheap balls under $20, Topflite XL-3000 series (they roll for days), discontinued Stratas (play like HX Hot), Nike Power Series (Play like NXT), and Pinnacle balls (like XL-3000). That’s what actually playing these balls has shown me. I wonder if anyone has had simular experience with the balls I meantioned.

  4. I have yet to see any golf ball test that gives a good accounting of a ball. Let’s take a look at the Pro V1. How much less spin do I get from the compresion factor on a drive with a 100 mph swing and how much less draw or fade does that produce?
    How many more feet do I get from a 100 mph drive?
    What happens if I can swing a 7 iron like JB Holmes? DOes that cause it to compress and eliminate the backspin?

    My problem is if the ball isn’t reducing the spin enough on the drive to keep me in the fairway, who cares? And why do I need a ball with all that backspin if it rolls back so hard I’m off the green or can’t use it for a back pin position? I bet most guys will find no difference in using a pro v to a cheap ladies ball in distance or spin.

  5. I just got the update on this five year old post!  Interesting reading that. 

    Now with 5 years of playing, I definately see a difference in golfballs – written on here about it before – and it depends on what the season and purpose of a ball is what I am going to play. 

    For tournaments on faster greens, I am going to play a ProV1.  Of the balls I play, it is going to hold the green the best.  When I want more distance, I am going to play a Callaway HX Hot Plus (from the logo bin at Golfsmith).  Both of these balls also hold up INCREDIBLY well.  A ProV1 is much more durable than most any other ball IMO, the Hot Plus is a close second of the balls I play.  Right now I am playing the Bridgestone E6 most of the time.  It is a good, durable ball, seems to go straighter than the other two – not as long as the Callaway.  But the reason I am playing it is that it is Yellow, and I can see it during flight much better.  The 4th ball in the rotation is the Snake Eyes Performance Tour 2, which was a good buy found by GolfBlogger – seems to be close to the Callaway, but not quite as long.  Great ball for the $10 a dozen I bought them for. 

    I don’t think you will really see a full review of golfballs because it DOES depend on how you are hitting the ball.  Most amateurs don’t really know their swing speed reliably but even if they do, there are a bunch of other factors that make one ball better than another for each player. 

    Secondly, you won’t see a real review by any golf magazine because they have to sell advertising to every manufacterer.  They are not going to come out difinitively for one brand over another – so everything is a little soft.  Look at the Golf Digest Hot List – everyone gets some gold, everyone gets some silver. But then look at the actual editors choice.  For 2011, it is four product categories, and four different brands.  Huh, Callaway gets one, Taylormade gets one, Adams gets one, and Titleist gets one.  Last year it was Ping, Cleveland, Mizuno, and Odyssey.  So over two years, they have 6 different product categories for Editors choice (Driver and Irons were done both times) – and 8 manufactuerers (Ok, 7 since Callaway and Odyssey are the same)

    So you won’t see a full review by any experts in golf because those would be in the magazines which can’t make a comparison because of business conflicts, and they can’t make a comparison because it does depend on the individual players too.


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