Have you ever opened up a box of golf balls and wondered why each one has a different number printed on it?
Every golf ball manufacturer will print one or more numbers onto their balls, and these numbers can mean different things depending on where they are on the ball, and who manufactured it.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers and why they are there and what the numbers on golf balls actually mean.
The single-digit number that you find below the brand name smack in the middle of the golf ball is usually only there for identification purposes. This number will range from 0-9, but the most common numbers printed are 1-4.
The only real purpose of the number is to make it easier to differentiate your ball from your playing partners. This helps to ensure you each play the correct ball and avoid any penalties.
You may find that you are playing in a four-ball and you and two of your playing partners are playing with the same brand of golf ball. The printed numbers will help tell them apart throughout the round.
If you only have the same number balls, there is always the option of adding your initials or some other individually identifying mark with a permanent marker pen. Most golfers will do this anyway.
In a box of 12 golf balls, they will usually be divided into four sleeves, each sleeve containing three balls. Those three balls will then all have the same number printed on them. So, one sleeve will have three balls with the number ‘1’ on them, another sleeve of three balls with the number ‘2’ and so on.
There are a few reasons why a golf ball may have a two-digit number printed on it.
Firstly, it may be for the same reason as mentioned above regarding the single-digit numbers. I know Taylormade and Titleist use double-digit numbers for identification purposes on some models of their balls. They use the numbers 00 right through too 99. It’s something a little different.
Secondly, a double-digit number may be used to indicate the compression rate of the golf ball. This is something that very few manufacturers do today but it was popular in the 1990s.
Compression ratings back in the 90s ranged from 70-80 for a ball that was suited to a female golfer, right up to 100+ for a ball more suited to a male golfer. Today, the compression rating is linked more to your swing speed so a lower compression number would be suited to someone with a slower swing speed for example.
Very few golf balls today have these numbers printed on them, but if you are playing an older refurbished ball you may still see the compression rating on it.
You may notice a triple-digit number printed on your ball and that number can range anywhere from 300-500. This number will usually represent how many dimples are on the golf ball.
Manufacturers used to print these numbers on the balls a lot more than they do now, so again, it is a number that you might not find on the modern golf ball.
The dimple count is by no means a representation of the quality or performance of your golf ball, however, the dimple count will still be mentioned on the box somewhere if it is not printed on the ball.
If you want to know how and why dimples affect a golf ball, check this video out from Titleist.
Other Numbers On a Golf Ball
Many professional golfers choose to have numbers printed on their golf balls that have a personal meaning to them. Sergio Garcia for example used to play with a number “10” printed on his ball as a tribute to his favorite football team (Real Madrid), who had won the Champions League for the 10th time.
Justin Rose has also played with the number “99” on his golf ball. While shooting a promotional video for Taylormade he explained that his wife Kate’s lucky number was 9 and so he chose “99” to hopefully double the luck. The number was also printed in gold to represent his gold medal win during the 2016 Olympics.
Rory Mcilroy has had the number “22” printed on his golf ball which was to help remind him of his wedding anniversary, as he married his wife on April 22nd.
If you fancy a number that means something more personal to you, Titleist do offer their top of the range balls with an option called “Special Play Numbers” which enables you to customize the number printed on the golf ball. You can choose any double-digit number from “00” all the way up to “99”.
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.