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Ball Buyer's Guide

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Ball Model Years

Below are a set of frequently asked questions for serious golfers. For additional FAQs, please visit our general FAQ section or our blog golfballtest.org.

Why are there "older" balls in the database that have since been replaced in 2008?

Our goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive analysis of golf balls currently available in the marketplace.

The GolfBallSelector.com database currently includes 60 actively marketed golf balls, sold primarily in the United States; and all of the balls listed in the GolfBallSelector.com system including those of 2007 (and even some 2006) model years are available for purchase new and as recycled golf balls - at retail stores and online.

The GolfBallSelector.com system does not differentiate performance based on model year. The facts are that certain golfers may do better (or no worse) with an older version of a certain ball type. Perhaps they enjoy the way the older ball version feels - or perhaps they are seeking "value for money" and are just fine selecting last years model if they can save a few dollars. For example, in some cases, we have found 2007 "Tour Balls" offered brand new in specialty golf retailers (at a substantial discount) even though they have since been replaced by a 2008 version.

Please Note that in many cases, that there are no (08) models yet produced and (07) is the newest vintage.

How do I distinguish between model years?

The model year (vintage) of a golf ball can be determined by its "seam markings" which are displayed in our Digital Ball Catalog. In the output of the fitting system, the model year is identified in parentheses, such as Nike ONE Black (07).

Understanding the differences in these seam markings can help you when purchasing balls at a discount and especially when a retailer may not be disclosing the model year; or if the balls are being selected out of bulk barrel or bin.

Is the current model year ball always the better ball to chose?

No, not necessarily. Although manufacturers may continually update and "enhance" a certain model type and then make claims about new and improved these may not be material changes that will affect the performance of every golfer. Our testing and selector processing is agnostic to performance claims and just reflects what is in the data. Given differences in performance across golfer profile types; and differences in how a golfer places weight on different factors (distance, control and feel), it is quite possible then to have an (07) model rank more favorably than its (08) counterpart.

Why is the (07) version NOT right next to the (08) version in the display rankings?

Manufacturers continually pattern performance after each other and may gain substantive improvements within their family of products over time or may just get closer to mimicking their competition. This will drive separation of a certain model type - even where construction attributes are largely unchanged; but manufactured in different years.

Further, as new balls are continually entered into our database system, the number of individual ball comparisons multiples by the number of balls in the system on multiple dimensions across distance, control and spin. The combination of individual golfer performance objectives; along with updates in ball construction, materials and manufacturing process make it much more likely that balls will be separated by more than a few other competing balls when the rankings are displayed.

Does the age of a golf ball affect its relative performance?

Properly stored, most new golf balls will not exhibit decay in performance noticeable to the average golfer. For recycled golf balls, it is largely an unknown where that ball came from and how long it might have been submerged in a pond or lake. One older study we came across suggests that over time there is a discernable decay in performance (among Surlyn and Balata covered balls) due to water logging; however, those cover technologies have been eclipsed by newer polymers; and in our testing of compression and cover hardness (and some ballistics testing), we saw no notable performance decay in what are known as near-new Grade 1 / AAAAA recycled golf balls. Even a "lower grade" recycled ball may have little noticeable difference in performance except for its lower grading due to observable cover damage or blemishes. Discoloration of a ball would indicate it was most likely submerged for some time and would not be a top choice if high performance is a leading requirement for that day's play.

View our Digital Ball
Catalog
to research
and purchase new
and recycled golf
balls.

Our scientific ratings
incorporate compression and
cover hardness data.
Click here to view the data.