Soft vs Hard Golf Balls: Pros & Cons for Most Golfers

As a passionate golfer and a frequent contributor to Golfspan, I’ve often been immersed in various golf debates. One topic that seems to resurface persistently is the age-old argument of soft vs hard golf balls.

There seems to be a constant split between advocates for each, so I decided it was high time we settled the debate once and for all. In this article, I’ve compiled my findings and my top 5 recommendations for each type.

For those seeking a quick answer, soft vs hard golf balls: Soft golf balls have excellent feel and control and are the perfect choice for beginners or golfers with a lower swing speed. Hard golf balls have good distance and speed and are the perfect choice for more skilled golfers or those with higher swing speeds.

Factors Soft Golf Balls Hard Golf Balls
Ideal User Novice golfers, players with lower swing speeds Experienced golfers, players with higher swing speeds
Key Benefit Enhanced feel and control Maximum distance and speed
Compression Higher compression; compresses more efficiently with lower swings Lower compression; withstands higher swings
Distance Offers sufficient distance for lower swing speeds Provides maximum distance for faster swings
Spin Higher spin; helps nail tricky shots around the green Lower spin; to help control long shots with the driver and other long clubs
Control Improved control, suitable for strategic gameplay Control can be more challenging and requires technique and experience
Experience A sensation of controlled power when coming off the clubface Shots tend to fly farther and straighter
Suitability for Gameplay Adds a new dimension to the golf game through spin Offers impressive distance, which can benefit gameplay

Soft Golf Balls vs Hard: Understanding Basics

Srixon softfeel box golf ball

When I first got my hands on a soft golf ball, I was a novice golfer with a swing speed that wasn’t breaking any records.

I first noticed how great the soft ball felt coming off the clubface. It wasn’t harsh or abrupt; it was a sensation of controlled power. That’s one of the key reasons why beginners and low-swing speed players may favor soft golf balls – the enhanced feel.

Clint McCormick, Class A PGA-Professional and Degree in Golf Management

Before diving into the question “Are soft golf balls better?”, it’s essential to understand the history of exactly what is a soft golf ball. In the 14th century, the first golf balls were made from hardwood. By the 17th century, ‘featheries’ took the stage—leather pouches filled with goose feathers.

The 19th-century introduction of the Gutta-percha ball marked the first ‘hard’ ball in golf history, establishing a clear difference between soft and hard golf balls. This evolution continued until today, when we see a wide range of sophisticated balls on golf courses.

Whether it’s a soft or hard golf ball, each is an engineering marvel of an inner core, a mid-layer, and an outer cover. The compression rate of the core primarily determines its hardness.

Typically, soft golf balls have a lower compression rate and are softer to the touch, as the term suggests.

But what does a soft golf ball mean for the golfer and the game? The debate truly ignites when discussing how this hardness influences ball performance. Some golfers firmly believe in the enhanced control and feedback provided by soft balls, while others are unwavering on the distance offered by hard balls.

For example, during a conversation with a local golf pro, he revealed his preference for soft balls, believing they deliver better spin control, particularly around the greens. But are soft golf balls better for beginners? That depends.

Golf is a game of diversity and personal preference. What is beneficial for one player might not be for another. For instance, golfing legend Jack Nicklaus often favored harder balls, asserting they provided better distance control for his powerful drive.

Read more: The Best Golf Balls on the Market

Soft Golf Ball vs Hard: Pros and Cons

Let’s break it down and look at the pros and cons of soft and hard golf balls:

Soft Golf Balls

supersoft golf balls


  • Enhanced Feel: Soft golf balls provide a superior feel, giving me a heightened sense of control. They are, in a way, more ‘communicative,’ relaying feedback from each shot.
  • Better Spin Control: As I’ve noticed, soft balls tend to offer more spin, which can be a great advantage, especially around the greens. It allows for precision shots and the ability to shape the ball’s flight more effectively.
  • Suitable for Slow Swing Speeds: Soft balls can be a great asset for golfers like I was in my early days, who have a slower swing speed. Their low compression rate allows for effective launch even at slower speeds, optimizing the distance.


  • Limited Distance: One of the trade-offs with soft balls is that they may not travel as far as hard balls. During my tests, hard balls consistently outperformed soft ones regarding raw distance.
  • Durability: In my experience, soft balls tend to be less durable than hard balls due to their softer cover. They might not withstand aggressive hits or harsh course conditions as well.

Hard Golf Balls

e9 hard golf balls


  • Increased Distance: For golfers with faster swing speeds, hard balls can deliver impressive distance thanks to their high compression rate. They are built to absorb and transfer the power of a strong swing into maximum distance.
  • Durability: Hard balls, in my experience, tend to be more durable. They can withstand high-impact hits and harsh course conditions effectively.
  • Better for High Swing Speeds: Hard balls are suitable for golfers with fast swing speeds. They are designed to handle the power of a stronger swing and optimize it for distance.


  • Reduced Spin Control: One potential drawback of hard balls is their lower spin rate. This can affect control, particularly in your short game.
  • Limited Feel: Hard balls may not offer the same level of ‘feel’ or feedback as soft balls. At times, some golfers, including me, find them less responsive and harder to control.

Testing the Hard and Soft Golf Balls

taylormade distance plus review 4 testing pov

To keep this analysis objective and practical, I put on my testing hat and hit some soft and hard balls. I tried them with different clubs, aiming for different shots to really understand how they behave under varying conditions.

Distance Shots — Using Driver

First off, I started with distance shots using my trusted driver. With a full swing behind me, the hard golf balls rocketed off the tee with a noticeably sharp impact sound. Seeing how the higher compression translated into a longer flight was fascinating.

The balls seemed to almost cut through the wind, proving why hard golf balls are often associated with greater distance. On average, I found that the hard balls outdistanced the soft ones by around 10 yards.

When I switched to the soft balls, the story was a bit different. The feel upon impact was significantly gentler, almost like hitting through butter. Though they didn’t quite match the hard balls in distance, they offered something else – a heightened sense of control. With each swing, I connected with the ball, and it seemed easier to shape my shots, be it a draw or a fade.

Approach Shots — Using Iron

Next, I moved on to the approach shots using my irons. The lower spin rate was evident with hard balls as they tended to roll further on landing. While this could be advantageous on certain courses or for specific play styles, it didn’t afford me the precision that the soft balls did.

When using soft balls, the results were impressive. Each time I hit a soft ball with an iron, it was as if it had an inbuilt braking system. The higher spin rate meant they stopped quickly, offering me greater accuracy and control – crucial for nailing those approach shots.

Short Game — Using Wedge

The distinction between the two was even more pronounced in the short game, where I used wedges. In the realm of chipping and putting, the soft balls truly excelled.

The soft balls elevated spin and softer feel offered exceptional control around the greens. They conveyed feedback directly via the club, indicating precisely the quality of the shot.

Contrastingly, the hard balls felt slightly difficult to handle. They missed the delicate touch offered by the soft balls, often rolling farther than anticipated. While the hard balls weren’t entirely disadvantageous – they maintained their line well on extended putts – my preference was the soft balls for their finesse in short games using wedges.

Read more: The Best Cheap Golf Balls

Who Should Use Soft Golf Balls?

clint mccormick professional golfer

There’s no better way to illustrate who should use soft golf balls than to share my personal experience. When I first got my hands on a soft golf ball, I was a novice golfer with a swing speed that wasn’t breaking any records.

I first noticed how great the soft ball felt coming off the clubface. It wasn’t harsh or abrupt; it was a sensation of controlled power. That’s one of the key reasons why beginners and low-swing speed players may favor soft golf balls – the enhanced feel.

The added control and distance that soft golf balls offer to beginners and those with a lower swing speed is genuinely noticeable. These balls compress more efficiently, meaning you can squeeze every ounce of distance out of your swing, even if it isn’t the fastest. They also gave me extra spin, helping me nail those tricky shots around the green.

During my golfing journey, as I experimented with these soft balls, I realized the value they bring when it comes to strategic gameplay. The additional spin allowed me to shape my shots better, adding a new dimension to my golf game. And I’m not alone; many pros prefer soft balls for their superior control and feel.

Read more: The Best Golf Balls for High Handicappers

Who Should Use Hard Golf Balls?

man hitting golf ball

I started experimenting with hard golf balls as I grew more comfortable on the golf course and increased swing speed. I soon found that these were a whole new beast. If soft golf balls are about feel and control, hard golf balls are all about distance and speed.

So, hard golf balls are the way to go if you’re someone with a higher swing speed or an experienced golfer looking to maximize your distance. They’re built to withstand the power of a strong swing and transfer that power into maximum distance. I noticed that my shots started to fly farther and straighter with hard balls, which was a fantastic feeling. In case you are looking for the straightest flying golf balls, we also have a list for that.

There’s a trade-off, of course. The higher compression of hard golf balls means they give less backspin. So, while you’ll be booming it off the tee, you might struggle a bit more with control on your approach shots and around the greens. But with experience and technique, I learned to mitigate this.

Overall, both soft and hard golf balls have unique advantages. They cater to different types of players and different aspects of the game. Ultimately, the choice between the two boils down to your preferences, skill level, and the specific demands of your golf game.

Read more: The Best Golf Balls for Distance

Understanding Golf Ball Characteristics

bridgestone golf ball

Contrary to a common belief, softer golf balls do not universally generate better spin on the green, and harder balls are not exclusively for distance. Between a soft vs firm golf ball, both carry their respective advantage, often performing comparably for most golfers. However, firmer golf balls tend to offer greater spin rates on longer clubs and exhibit better durability.

On a side note, you might want to also check out the best golf balls for high handicappers as well.

Determining Your Needs

Choosing a golf ball isn’t merely about picking between soft or hard. Consideration of your swing speed and what you desire in terms of performance are key. For an average golfer, a softer golf ball with a lower compression rating often proves beneficial.

The lower compression means less club speed is required to compress the ball effectively, leading to straighter shots and an overall better feel.

Swing Speed and Ball Firmness

A firmer golf ball may be preferable if your swing speed exceeds 100 MPH significantly. However, for most golfers swinging around 90 MPH, an overly firm ball might feel like hitting a rock.

Notwithstanding, the overall feel of a golf ball largely boils down to personal preference.

Ultimately, the ideal golf ball depends on your unique needs and preferences. A 2 or 3-piece ball with a low to mid-compression rating typically serves well for the average golfer.

These balls offer less spin off the tee, assisting you in hitting more fairways while still possessing enough stopping power on the greens for improved short-game consistency.

Understand Your Swing Speed

To identify the best ball for your needs; it is crucial to know your swing speed. A simple relationship between your swing speed and your average driver distance can be established.

For example, if you’re hitting around 205 yards, your swing speed is likely around 80 MPH, and for a 260 yards distance, it would be around 100 MPH.

My Top 5 Soft Golf Balls of 2023

In pursuing the perfect game of golf, I’ve had the privilege of testing countless types of balls. After extensive field testing, here are my top 5 soft golf balls for 2023:

1. Callaway Supersoft Golf Ball

The Callaway Supersoft impressed me with its optimal balance of affordability, control, and distance. This ball features a novel hybrid cover with a Paraloid Impact Modifier, improving distance and durability without sacrificing the feel.

Its HEX Aerodynamics cover pattern reduced drag, boosting the lift and, ultimately, the flight distance. The soft Compression Core greatly enhanced the energy transfer, giving me more ball speed than usual. Its black background offers better visibility – a smart addition indeed.

The dimple design may be unappealing for some players at address. If you find this an issue, consider the Srixon Soft Feel as an alternative.

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2. Srixon Soft Feel Golf Ball

The Srixon Soft Feel offered a plush sensation on impact and delivered good control around the greens. The FastLayer core, soft at the center and gradually getting firmer towards the cover, worked perfectly for my mid-to-slow driver swing. I observed improved spin and distance numbers, a notable advantage over firmer balls.

However, the soft feel may not provide enough audible feedback on putts for some. If auditory feedback is crucial for your game, the Titleist Tour Soft might be a more fitting alternative.

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3. Wilson Staff Duo Soft Golf Ball

Tagged as the “world’s softest golf ball”, the Wilson Staff Duo Soft indeed lived up to its name. Its compression rating of 40 and ionomer cover design allowed for maximum energy return, delivering further flights and higher launches with less effort. It felt extremely soft yet springy on center strikes, benefiting slower-swinging players looking for more speed and distance.

The ball feels a tad springy off the face around the greens. If you prefer a less springy feel, consider switching to the TaylorMade Soft Response.

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4. TaylorMade Soft Response Golf Ball

Sporting an appealing blend of sensitivity and softness, the TaylorMade Soft Response truly shone in my test. It had an outstanding feel off the putter face and delivered excellent control over short game spins.

However, be aware that its low 50-compression might reduce the distance for those with faster swing speeds. If distance and softness are both essential for you, you might want to consider the Titleist Tour Soft, which guarantees steady ball flights and a gentle feel.

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5. Titleist Tour Soft Golf Ball

Coming up next is the Titleist Tour Soft. This marvel delivered remarkable long game distances and uniform ball flights in my tests. Now in its third iteration of Titleist’s soft compression range, this ball provides commendable responsiveness without feeling overly soft.

The T-shaped alignment tool was a boon in increasing my precision on the greens. However, its short-game spin doesn’t match up to that of the Pro V1. The TaylorMade Soft Response might be better if your gameplay leans heavily on short-game spins.

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My Top 5 Hard Golf Balls of 2023

In the quest for the perfect golf ball, one mustn’t overlook the offerings for firmer golf balls, ideal for players with faster swing speeds. These are my top 5 hard golf balls for 2023 based on my personal testing:

1. Bridgestone e9 Long Drive

Engineered in partnership with World Long Drive, the Bridgestone e9 brings unparalleled distance performance to the table. Its soft core elicited a potent and explosive sensation off the tee, and I observed exceptional carry distance and impressive ball speed. The ball also boasts extraordinary durability for prolonged use.

Nonetheless, its high energy transfer could make flight control challenging. The Bridgestone e12 Contact could be a worthy alternative if control tops your priority list.

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2. TaylorMade TP5 X Tour

After several rounds with the TaylorMade TP5x Tour, I can confidently say it’s an exceptional hard golf ball. Its five-layer construction delivers extraordinary distance, precision, and exceptional greenside control. Truly a high-performance ball that significantly elevates your game.

The feel on contact is solid, delivering a satisfying click off the clubface. If I had to find a downside, it would be the premium price, which might be a bit steep for some. An affordable alternative could be the Titleist Pro V1, which also performs commendably. Nevertheless, the TP5x is a remarkable choice worth considering for any serious golfer.

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3. Bridgestone Tour B XS

The Bridgestone Tour B XS delivered exceptional tour-level performance with its three-piece construction and urethane cover. It offered a soft feel and provided a satisfying sound upon impact. Its greenside spin was impressive, allowing for precise shot control.

Tiger even had good things to say about the ball and it’s sound.

However, I found the ball’s durability slightly lower than expected. If durability is your primary concern, consider the Callaway Chrome Soft X.

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4. Titleist Velocity Golf Ball

As someone who has tested the Titleist Velocity Golf ball, I can confidently say it lives up to its reputation as a top-tier golf ball. The 350-Octahedral Dimple Pattern, for one, impressed me by promoting a longer, higher ball flight.

Also, the LSX Core Fast technology housed within the two layers is quite exceptional, producing a low-medium compression, highly reactive core that enhances speed, a clear advantage over alternatives such as the two-piece Callaway Superhot Bold.

However, the premium technology does come with a hefty price tag – a notable drawback for budget-conscious players. Still, if you aim to elevate your distance game, I highly recommend the Velocity golf balls from Titleist.

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5. Bridgestone e12 Contact

The Bridgestone e12 Contact 23 stood out with its unique Flexativ cover, reducing spin on hard hits and increasing spin on slower swings. It offered a soft feel and improved greenside control. The ball’s distance performance and accuracy off the tee were commendable.

However, I observed a lower trajectory compared to other balls. If you prefer a higher ball flight, consider the Bridgestone Tour B XS.

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Do Soft Golf Balls Go Further?

No, not exactly. Softer balls often go further, but only for players with slow swings because they can more effectively compress the ball. However, hard golf balls can provide more distance for players with faster swing speeds, as they can withstand high-impact hits better.
So if you’re in the market for distance, hard balls are the way to go.

Do Pros Use Soft Golf Balls?

Many professional golfers do prefer soft balls for the feel and control they provide. But it's not a one-size-fits-all; the choice of ball greatly depends on an individual's playing style, the course they're playing on, and the weather conditions.
The rule of thumb is to go for softer ones if you need spin and accuracy.

Can A Golf Ball Be Both Hard And Soft?

Yes, a golf ball can be both hard and soft due to its multilayer design. The inner core might be soft for better compression, while the outer layer could be hard for durability and spin control. The choice of hard or soft refers to the feel at impact.


In the debate between soft vs hard golf balls, the basic thing to remember is that if you’re looking for accuracy, then soft golf balls are your friend. My personal favorite one was the Wilson Staff Duo Soft Golf Ball, in this case.

Similarly, hard balls are the way to go if you aim to increase distance. However, you will have to sacrifice accuracy for this. In this case, I was extremely happy with Titleist Velocity Golf Ball.

However, you should also consider other aspects, such as playing style, forgiveness, and spin, when making the final decision. A well-versed golfer would take both and uses one at the right time.

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Clint became the Head Teaching Professional at one of Toronto’s busiest golf academies and was featured on Canada’s National Golf TV program, “Score Golf Canada,” twice. He now tests and reviews golf equipment and gets to enjoy the game he loves whenever he wants while helping people lower their scores.

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