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Golf Ball Compression


The interaction between the golf club head and golf ball determines how far a golf ball will travel as well as its direction of travel. You need to have the right kind of combination of initial velocity, initial angle of flight, and golf ball spin to ensure maximum golf ball distance.


Golf Club and Ball Interaction


What happens when the golf club strikes the ball? A look at the physics of golf reveals some clues as to improving your game. A golfer's swing is an example of torque, using force to create rotation. The golfer twists their hips and their shoulders to swing the club. The energy they exert transfers to the clubhead, which propels the golf ball when the two make contact.

The relationship between speed of the clubhead and initial velocity of the ball is dependant upon the coefficient of restitution of the golf ball, which in itself is dependant upon the type of ball being played. 

Golf Ball Compression


When a golf ball is struck by a golf club, it is compressed, deformed and flattened by the force of impact (golf ball compression rating is less with harder core golf balls than softer cored balls). Generally speaking, a harder (low compression golf ball) travels further than a softer or high compression golf ball. This is due to less compression at the point of impact, resulting in more energy transfer from golf club to ball.


Golf Ball Compression Rating


A few years ago, a number might appear on a ball indicating the golf ball's compression rating. A golf balls compression rating is a term that applies to how dense the ball is. A golf ball's compression rating -- is a rating of the softness or hardness of the ball. Generally speaking, the lower the compression rating the easier the ball compresses.

Until solid core balls drove the wound golf ball into virtual extinction in the late 90s, compression rating was a big deal to golfers. A low compression golf ball (compression rating of 70 or 80 for a wound ball) was regarded as an indicator that ball was a "ladies ball." A high compression rating of 110 meant you had to swing very hard to make that particular golf ball compress appropriately in order to respond properly upon impact.


Low Compression Golf Balls


Today, we know that compression relates much more to feel than it does to golf ball distance. Solid, soft-core low compression golf balls are a huge segment of the golf ball market in todays market. , Today compressions can be in the low 30s or 40s ranging upward to 100 or so.

When these low-compression golf balls first appeared on the market, manufacturers felt there was still a stigma attached to low compression balls. They felt a low-compression golf ball would be viewed as a "ladies ball," and so numbers representing compression were dropped from most golf balls.

You'll still find them on some brands and they are almost certain to be -- two digits.


Coefficient of Restitution


Coefficient of Restitution is a measurement of the clubface's ability to rebound the ball. It is expressed as a percentage that is determined by a ball's speed off the clubhead divided by the speed at which it struck by the clubhead. The term came into the popular lexicon as ultra-thin-faced drivers began to proliferate. An effect of the thin faces is known as the "spring-like effect" or "trampoline effect": The face of the driver depresses as the ball is struck, then rebounds - providing a little extra oomph to the shot. A driver that exhibits this property will have a very high COR.

The maximum COR allowed under USGA rules is .830.

Note: Not interchangeable with "spring-like effect." COR is a measurement; spring-like effect is what's being measured.


Maximizing Golf Ball to Club Speed


At the point of impact between the golf club head and ball, kinetic energy is transferred and stored as the golf ball tries to regain its original shape. To obtain maximum distance in the drive, a ball must be selected that maximizes golf ball restitution for the chosen club speed. If the chosen ball is too soft for the club speed, too much energy will be spent deforming the ball and not enough energy will be stored in the ball. Similarly, if the ball is too hard for the club speed, then the ball will not deform enough, and again, will not transfer adequate energy. This is why it is important to choose a golf ball that matches the golf club speed.