Golf boomed in 2020. Amidst a pandemic in which we were warned not to congregate or recreate indoors amidst other people, golf’s fresh air, wide-open spaces and small groups offered perfect counter-programming. As 2021 rolls into spring, golf ball manufacturers are ready with new designs and ample stocks of 2020’s most popular offerings to keep all players stocked on busier courses.
In its essence, golf is a very simple game. The point is to propel a little white sphere across an expanse of grass until that pellet sits at the bottom of a cup 4.25 inches wide and 4 inches deep. Then again, the ball a player chooses to smack around all of that turf can make a significant difference in how successful and enjoyable a round of golf proves. As experienced players know, the best golf balls are essential to play at your best.
A well-made golf ball is expected to travel long distances in a straight line, to land soft and roll smoothly on the greens. It usually comes together in layers, starting with a soft rubber core and finishing with a tacky, dimpled coating. Still, that’s where the similarities end, as we’ll see in this list of our favorite options.
Depending on the expert you ask, the best golf balls can cut any number of strokes off a golf score. To that end, some balls are designed to travel farther. Others are built to spin more or stop more accurately on a green. Taking all of that into consideration, we put together a collection of the best golf ball options aimed at multiple categories of players.
While there are many similarities between brands of golf balls, manufacturers still try to target their products to specific types of players. We tried to do the same, matching our recommendations to the types of players we think will benefit most from each particular option. Find yourself in the mix and get it in the bottom of that cup with the best golf balls for sale in 2021.
1. Mizuno RB 566V
Best Overall / Best for Hooking & Slicing
Not every player can lay a drive out 300 yards or more; however, those folks can get some legal distance help if they pick the right golf ball. Released for 2020, the Mizuno RB 566V stays on top for 2021, employing its titular 566 micro-dimples arranged all around its surface to reduce aerodynamic drag and optimize spin rate. That means this low-compression ball is designed to travel farther with better accuracy thanks to less atmospheric interference.
We tested and reviewed the Mizuno RB 566V ball last year in more detail. Still, here’s the bottom line: Thanks to its unique design and immediate impact on your play, it’s our top pick and remains among the best golf balls of 2021.
2. Callaway Chrome Soft X
Best for the High Handicapper / Best for Extra Distance
When reviewing the best golf balls of 2021, there were a lot of high-quality Callaway balls to consider. We ultimately selected the new Callaway Chrome Soft for the incredible distance it provides. All good golf balls work due to compression. Put simply, the golf club strikes the ball for about 1/300th of a second. For that briefest of moments, the ball compresses on impact and then expands as it begins its flight. If a ball is constructed with a soft core, it aids the compression and expansion — enabling the ball to travel higher and faster. Updated for 2021 with a larger graphene-infused Dual SoftFast Core, the latest Callaway Chrome Soft gives the high handicapper an excellent, all-purpose pellet. On top of that, with minimal drag, you’ll be amazed at how far this ball flies off the tee.
3. Vice Pro Soft Golf Balls
Best for the Distance Challenged
Vice Golf doesn’t have the longstanding reputation of Callaway or the high-tech reputation of Mizuno, but this newcomer to the golf scene is already making some of our favorite balls. Available with varying core designs and coverings, Vice Golf wants to appeal to every player, from high to low handicappers, whether he or she is looking for distance, spin or soft landings. The Pro Soft compress more on impact and offer more length off the tee. Like most soft golf balls, they can be more difficult to control around the greens. So, high handicap players get more distance, but low handicap players might have more trouble with shot-making.
4. Taylormade TP5
Best for All-Purpose Game Improvement
Hyped up by Taylormade for its “complete performance,” the 2021 TP5 uses a new dimple pattern to improve ball flight and five-layer construction to provide a soft feel. When you see a golf ball described as “soft,” that doesn’t mean it’s a stress toy or something a dog chews on when it’s bored. It means the ball is designed to land and grab. The physics of a ball designed to be “soft” means it’ll still take flight with good compression, but it’s not looking to bounce firmly skyward when that flight terminates.
5. 2021 Titleist Pro V1
Best for the Pro Wannabe
It’s a hard reality that professional players on the PGA Tour play golf balls that the average recreational enthusiast cannot acquire. The top combatants on the tournament circuit receive bespoke balls made to their specifications delivered to them by their sponsors. To give the rest of us a taste of such rarified golf air, Titleist gives us the 2021 Pro V1s. Completely redesigned for this year, the newest and the best offer longer distance, very low long game spin and Titleist signature “Drop-and-Stop” technology.
6. Srixon Q-Star Tour 3
Best for the Golfer Looking for Bite
If a hacker isn’t the best with the blade out on the greens, it’s best to stop the ball closer to the hole. It’s easier to avoid three-putts if the ball lands nearer to the cup or rotates back toward the pin. The Srixon Q-Star Tour 3 wraps itself in a “Spin Skin” with SeRM (Srixon’s urethane coating with flexible molecular bonds). That wrap allows the grooves on the face of short clubs to dig deep into the ball for maximum spin in the air and greater stopping power on the green.
7. TaylorMade Tour Response
Best for the Touch Play Guru
Amongst amateurs, there are power players, and there are touch players. The power types are of the “drive for show” club who bang the golf ball like a gorilla but add strokes with ham-fisted shots from 100 yards or closer. The touch player can shape shots and deftly judge both distance and terrain. This ball also features improved elasticity. The best golf balls complement your particular style of play, which makes the TaylorMade Tour Response the perfect surgical tool for those touch play gurus.
8. Bridgestone Tour B X
Best for the Aspiring Low Handicapper
Even veteran golfers always have an element of the game that needs work. You’ll find courses and driving ranges across the country full of players working on everything from driving to chipping to putting, chasing the dragon and looking to perfect whatever element is out of whack. The rookie golfer faces the different problem of needing to work on all aspects of the game. The Bridgestone Tour B X offers a Reactiv Urethane cover allowing the ball to react to the face of each club and shot — offering the best overall performance and flexibility to the player learning the game.
9. Volvik S4 Golf Balls
Best Golf Balls for a Faster Swing Speed
Yes, Volvik makes white balls, too. While the company gets a lot of attention for its bright, fluorescent offerings that you more or less have to put in a water hazard to lose, the S4 appeals on quality alone. The S4 is designed for players armed with a faster swing speed — 105 mph and above. The ball will feel heavier and more solid for the average player, but that mass helps the stronger golfer utilize strength and swing speed more accurately.
10. Titleist AVX
Best for the Pop-Up Artist
While the Pro V1s get all the hype when golfers talk Titleist (and understandably so), the AVX offering is no slouch, either. The designers made the core larger and the coating thinner. That creates a ball that should generate more distance and maintain a lower ball flight. A player with an accurate game looking to pick up more yards would be well served with the AVX.
11. Vice Drive
Best Golf Balls for New Players
Vice bases their entire image on being young and hip — inviting the millennial and post-millennial generations into the game. We should applaud them for that effort. Sure, they chose the tactic to draw what you could consider an underserved golf market, but anything that draws the technology-centric generations outside and onto the fairways is to be applauded. The Vice Drive balls are the basic, entry-level Vice options for the young player on a budget. He or she can play a well-made ball for about $20 per dozen, or well less than a buck a ball.
12. Volvik Vivid
Best for the Deep Grass Lover
If a player can’t control his or her shots, it means plenty of golf balls in the woods, the long grass, the mud, the bunker, etc. If such miss-hit balls can’t be located, it’s not only a stroke and distance penalty — it’s expensive. Buying the best golf balls can get expensive if you keep losing them. Aggressive optics go a long way toward avoiding lost balls, and Volvik’s products are synonymous with the sort of bright, neon colorations that are impossible to miss (unless you shank one into the water).
13. Slazenger V100 Distance
Best for the Budget Challenged
Also well known for making tennis balls, Slazenger remains one of the classic legacy brands. Their golf balls are still made in the United Kingdom, where this game evolved. Made with similar build quality to any number of American golf ball brands, a Slazenger balls comes with all of the history you’d expect from a company founded in 1881. It was the transformation of a Slazenger 1 into a Slazenger 7 that allowed James Bond to beat Goldfinger, and there’s a touch of class about playing these balls on any course.
14. Callaway 2021 ERC Triple Track
Best for Reduced Spin
While many golf balls are two-piece units, including a soft core covered by a stickier coating, the Callaway ERC Tour line opts for three layers. This multi-layer, multi-material construction allows for fast ball speed from high launch and low spin. The advantage of low spin is increased control as a high spin rate on longer shots increases the chances of hooks and slices. In addition to that cut down spin, the ERCs bring soft feel for useful green-side control.
15. Mizuno MP-X
Best for the Fair Weather Golfer
Covered in a special, thinner urethane cover, the Mizuno MP-Xs are high compression golf balls that work especially well in warm weather conditions. While most balls work well in the heat (since the 21st-century version of the game is played mostly in fair conditions), the MP-X’s four-piece construction allows for higher compression at impact. That’ll get it flying especially well when it’s warm, though the ball might be a little more reluctant if conditions cool.
16. Top Flite Bomb
Best for the Tee Box Show-Off
The World Long Drive Tour isn’t golf exactly. It’s more of a strength competition. It lacks the variety, subtly and variation of skills needed to get a golf ball from tee to cup. It’s more grip it and rip it. In fact, if you’re winding up to strike your tee shot and you look the guy on the box below, good luck on your form. Still, that competition series at least has the trappings of golf. They use golf clubs. They use golf balls — Top Flite Bombs, to be exact. Designed to produce maximum distance, they can prove just the right prescription for length-challenged players.
17. 2021 TaylorMade TP5x
Best for the Complex Player
We’ve seen two-layer golf balls and three-layer entries as designers look to create spheres that do everything from flying low and fast off the tee to landing soft and slow on the green. The TaylorMade TP5x up the ante with five-layer construction, unique even among the best golf balls in the world. Looking to provide maximum ball speed for the biggest possible carry, these pellets are wound tighter than a juiced baseball. Before you get to the urethane cover, the TP5x packs four, increasingly stiff layers to produce more aggressive ball flight.
18. Wilson Staff Model R Golf Balls
Best for the Naked Player
While Wilson is always beginner or average player-friendly, the new Model R Golf Balls are significantly more ambitious. The company defines the Model R as “tour-caliber” with a four-piece urethane construction shooting for increased precision, speed and consistent spin. In an unusual step, the Model R is the first golf ball to feature an unpainted urethane cover. The idea is the naked cover delivers a lower flight trajectory that digs into a club face for more spin.
19. Wilson Staff 50 Elite
Best Golf Ball for Beginners
Let’s stay with Wilson for a minute. For decades, Wilson served as a popular player in the golf equipment game while dominating other sports such as tennis. When it comes to golf balls, Wilson Staff stands ready to assist the young player looking to ease into the game without spending $40 a dozen. The Wilson Staff 50 Elite offers a simple, two-layer design with a rubber core to invite more compression and a bit more distance — for well less than $20 a dozen.
20. 2020 Titleist Pro V1
Best Golf Ball for Sneaky Shoppers
It’s not the same ball as the 2021 Pro V1, but it still sets the standard for professional quality pellets. In terms of design, build quality and materials, the closest an amateur can get to playing a pro’s golf ball is the Titleist Pro V1. It’s the best choice for the low handicapper looking to shoot in the 70s. The 2020 versions are still on the market, often a tick below the cost of their younger siblings.
How To Choose the Right Golf Ball for Your Game
It largely depends on the quality and needs of an individual player’s game. One golfer might need more distance and higher ball flight. Another might want a softer feel around the green. Modern golf balls have clear specifications to match those needs. In general terms, the most celebrated, professional-quality golf ball for amateurs is the Titleist Pro V1.
The Mizuno RB 566V employs 566 micro-dimples around its surface to reduce aerodynamic drag and optimize spin rate. That means this low-compression ball is designed to travel farther with better accuracy and less atmospheric interference. Its increased distance, reduced drag and three-layer construction make it a strong, all-purpose golf ball.
The Callaway Supersoft offers good distance because of its “soft” construction. A golf club strikes the ball for only 1/300th of a second. The ball compresses on impact and then expands as it begins its flight. If a ball is constructed with a soft core, it aids the compression and expansion — enabling the ball to travel higher and faster. The Callaway Supersoft golf balls give the high handicapper more distance and a softer landing.
Which golf balls go the farthest? While there’s constant competition between golf ball manufacturers to claim the longest golf balls, the serious contenders are the Titleist Pro V1, 2021 TaylorMade TP5x, the Top Elite Bomb, the Vice Pro Plus and the Mizuno RB 566V.
Overall construction and materials vary from ball to ball in golf. Simpler balls use a two-layer construction, while more expensive offerings go as high as five layers of various materials. In general terms, a golf ball has a rubber or plastic core wrapped in urethane.
It’s all about aerodynamics. Regardless of size or amount, the dimples on any golf ball stir a swirling pocket of air that stays close to the urethane cover. That controlled turbulence clings to the ball's surface and allows the onrushing airflow to pass around the sphere more smoothly.
It all depends on a player’s ability. If you’re a weekend hack and slash, just something round and white with dimples will get you there. There’s no shame in that. If you can get air under the ball with some touch into your shots, more investment is in order. A dozen golf balls can cost anywhere from around $10 up to $50, so a player should choose wisely.