Are Mail-Order Golf Balls Any Good?

It was not that long ago that the idea of a direct to consumer mail-order golf ball was not even a thing. Today, companies like Vice, Snell, MG and OnCore are shaking up the industry appealing to the value savvy golfer looking for Tour level performance at a much lower price - or at least that is what these brands are touting. Some of them have made the annual Golf Digest's golf ball Hot List. So clearly they should not be ignored. 

Today's Golfer Article demonstrated that the Vice equivalents to Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x were virtually indistinguishable in terms of real-world testing by a golf pro. Another test that we found interesting was this one from YouTuber AskGolfNut.

So the evidence does suggest that most mail-order balls offer comparable performance to their big brand opponents. The question remains, how do you go about picking a ball for your game?

It's Not All About Distance

A rather myopic view adopted by some is that distance is all that matters. But one should be looking at all-round performance of the golf ball. Yes, distance is important but if the cover of your golf ball is rock hard and does not produce enough spin around the greens you will find your scores will be higher.

While most balls look pretty much the same from the outside (dimple pattern  aside) there are a lots of differences in materials. Lets start with the cover. The more expensive and or highest performance balls generally have a urethane cover. Urethane is softer and provides more feedback off the face, and more spin around the greens. A common alternative to urethane is DuPont™ Surlyn© which is found in less expensive balls. Surlyn is harder and used on balls that promote distance. Since the cover does not grip the irons as well, you may lose some distance control and spin around the greens. However, the average high-handicap golfer may not be able to perceive the difference. A mail-order ball to consider in this category is the Vice Tour.

Hard or Soft?

Some premium balls, like the Titleist Pro V1 and Srixon Z-Star, come in alternative versions (Pro V1x and Srixon Z-Star XV), which spin a bit less for players who prefer a firmer feel and less spin off the tee. A great mail-order equivalent to try in this category is the Vice Pro Plus ball. Try both types from tee-to-green to find your preference. But remember, balls that are marketed as "soft" will no go as far as harder cover balls. That may be ok if you are really wanting greenside control. But just understand what you may be giving up when you make your choice.

As you can see, it is very difficult to say one ball is the "best." With so many variables in ball composition combined with player ability the choice can become a bit foggy. But it looks like mail-order balls are here to stay and they offer a great choice for the budget-minded golfer looking for tour-level performance.

Bottom Line 

 As the folks at MyGolfSpy suggest, golf ball fitting is the way of the future. So soon we will see fitters not only helping you identify the right set of clubs for your game, but ball recommendation is likely to follow. In the meantime, our suggestion is to think about your game in terms of weaknesses and strengths and avoid obsessing over distance as the only consideration. If you are budget conscious, there are some great mail-in options out there that will likely suit your game. In fact, Vice have a convenient golf ball recommender you can use that will help you dial-in the right ball for your game.

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