Soft Vs Hard Golf Balls – What’s Better For You?

A golfer is holding two golf balls in his hand.

Soft and hard golf balls each have their own pros and cons that you should consider. Let us analyze soft vs hard balls to determine which type is better for you.

Soft golf balls and hard golf balls feel and behave differently, so it is important to understand how they differ. However, there is more to choosing the right golf ball than just construction. 

The difference between soft vs hard golf balls

The primary difference between hard and soft balls is the performance and feel. While hard balls tend to feel like you are hitting a rock, soft golf balls are more responsive and give a softer feeling at impact.

Most golfers prefer soft balls to hard balls as they feel more comfortable playing with them. However, hard balls are a great option for golfers with fast swing speeds. This is because hard balls will be able to transfer energy more effectively than soft balls.

Here is a quick glance at the differences between soft vs. hard golf balls: 

Factors Soft golf balls Hard golf balls 
Swing speed Suitable for golfers with slow swing speed (<90 mph) Suitable for golfers with high swing speed (>90 mph) 
Performance attributes More spin, higher launch and less durable More side spin, lower launch and durable 
Compression range35-6565-120
Weather condition Performs great in cold weather conditionsHarder to compress in cold weather conditions

Golf ball construction: soft vs. hard golf balls

The golf ball’s construction is typically categorized into the core, mantle, and cover. Here is how they differ in each area.


The core is the critical part of the golf ball that determines its performance. Soft golf balls typically have a softer core, while hard balls have a firmer core. Compression rating is a useful measurement when it comes to core performance, and it is what makes the difference between soft and hard balls.

Most golf balls typically have a compression rating between 50 to 100. The compression rating in hard vs. soft (smooth) golf balls is as follows:

  • Compression rating for soft golf balls: 30-70.
  • Compression rating for hard golf balls: 90-120.


Mantle is the portion between the core and cover in a golf ball. Although the mantle doesn’t determine the softness or firmness of the ball as much as the core does, it still has some impact. The mantle is generally associated with the characteristics of the ball, such as spin and distance. Thus, a spinner ball will have a softer mantle, and a distance ball will have a firmer mantle.


Cover is another factor that affects ball performance. The cover primarily affects the feel of the golf balls and the spin rate. Soft balls have a cover made of softer material like urethane which provides more spin. Hard balls are made with harder materials like ionomer and provide less spin.

Who should play soft and hard golf balls?

Choosing the right type of golf ball for your game is essential. However, you need to understand which one will help you get the best performance.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding between soft and hard golf balls:

1. Distance

Hard balls offer you more distance than soft balls when hit with different types of golf clubs. Thus, if you want to increase your driving distance, go for harder golf balls. Especially if you are a beginner or high handicapper, then a hard golf ball is the best option to hit the approach shot. 

Despite the extra distance, hard balls have their drawbacks when it comes to shorter shots on and around the green. The ball is less likely to stop quickly due to this.

2. Spin

When it comes to spin, soft balls offer higher spin rates. The higher the spin rate, the easier it is to control the ball. This means soft balls give you more backspin which makes it easier to hold on to the green, making them ideal for putting. 

Thus, softer balls are ideal for those who might not need added distance but more spin on the greens and improve their accuracy. Softer golf balls are ideal for mid-handicappers.

3. Shot shaping

Shot shaping is another important factor when choosing between hard and soft golf balls. 

Soft golf balls have a higher launch trajectory making them more suitable for shaping shots around the green. Thus, low handicappers who like to hit shape shots such as draws or fades can use a softer golf ball. 

On the other hand, if you are a beginner and don’t need to shape shots, then a harder golf ball can be a better option for you.

4. Swing speed

Swing speed plays a crucial role in determining which type of golf ball suits your game. A soft golf ball is best suitable for those with slower swing speeds, while hard balls are best for players with faster swing speeds.

Pros and cons of soft vs. hard golf balls

Both soft and hard golf balls offer pros and cons. Here is a quick glance for you to understand. 

Pros of soft vs. hard golf balls

Soft ballsHard balls
More spinLong distance 
Better control Straighter shots 
Suitable for shape shotsBest for golfers with faster swing speeds 
Comfortable feel Good for beginners, and high handicappers 
Easy to compress Durable 

Cons of soft vs. hard golf balls

Soft ballsHard balls
Less durable Hard to hit shape shots 
May cause hooks and slices Less control 
Not suitable for golfers with fast swing speed Less spin 


Soft balls are best for golfers who want more spin and control while hard balls are ideal for beginners who need more distance. Soft and hard golf balls have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to understand which one fits your game best.

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