There is a bewildering choice of golf balls in the marketplace today.
Golf ball brands suck golfers in by the promise of:
- Increased distance
- More spin
- Exceptional feel
Do we fall for the hype?
Of course, we do.
That’s the reason why the golf ball market is valued at $1,046.2 million.
So, if we know the size of the golf ball brand market, are there any companies that dominate?
What benchmark could you use to rank the major golf ball manufacturers?
For the purposes of this article, we will use the top 100 ranked players on the PGA Tour for season 2022/23 as our benchmark.
In this article we’ll cover the following golf ball brands:
- Other notable brands
The 4 Best Golf Ball Brands
Using the top 100 PGA Tour golfers, our golf ball brands ranked list would look something like this:
Titleist is by far the most established golf ball brand on the list and their reputation for producing some of the best-performing golf balls is without question.
Titleist set the benchmark for the quality of the balls they produced right at the outset when it launched its first ball into the market in 1935.
Clever marketing of their new ball backed up the claim that they had produced the best ball in golf – even though it was their first entry as a golf ball brand.
Titleist’s claim that they had made the best golf ball lay in the fact that every ball they made was x-rayed at completion.
Why did Titleist do this?
To ensure that the core they had created for the ball was perfectly in the center and was the same dimensions from ball to ball.
To our modern way of thinking this might not seem groundbreaking but back in 1935 Titleist had stolen a serious march on its competition by guaranteeing the build process of each of its golf balls leading to consistent performance.
The designers of the early golf balls saw that the best way to get their product validated was by putting it in the hands of professional golfers and distributing it through club professional shops.
This link to the professional game lasts to this day as Titleist is recognized as the brand favored by touring professionals and elite amateurs.
Titleist consistently held the title of the “most played ball in professional golf” up until 2000 when it launched a golf ball that formed a new revolution in golf – the Pro V1.
This new ball quickly found favor on the professional tours, with players finding more distance off the tee but maintaining the spin characteristics they needed on approach shots and around the greens.
The Pro V1 was joined by the Pro V1X, which was a harder, higher-spinning alternative to the Pro V1, adding further to Titleist’s dominance at the highest levels of the game.
Whilst the Pro V1 and Pro V1X still spearhead the Titleist range there are plenty of other options for every type of golfer and every type of budget.
Budget is important for golfers, especially when a dozen Pro V balls retail around $60 (£50) in most outlets.
For those golfers who are new to the sport wanting a no-frills golf ball that will give them distance and durability Titleist has a range of balls that not only suit that requirement but come in at a much cheaper price point.
Callaway is a relative newcomer as a golf ball brand.
Callaway launched its first golf ball to the market in 2000 and kept the releases coming regularly mixing higher performance, better player balls with distance golf balls aimed at the beginner and higher-handicap golfer.
The high-end ball is the Chrome family which features the following models in the range:
- Chrome Soft
- Chrome Soft LS
- Chrome Soft X
Each ball offers something slightly different in terms of performance.
The Chrome Soft has the softest feeling of the trio at one end and the Chrome Soft LS offers the lowest spinning profile out of the three but still retains a level of softness.
A variation of the Callaway Chrome Soft rates as the second most played ball on the PGA Tour sneaking past TaylorMade’s TP5 offering.
With players such as current 2023 Masters champion Jon Rahm spearheading the playing staff and with regular stars such as Xander Schauffele, Sam Burns, and Si Woo Kim the development of the Chrome Soft ball is in good hands.
Callaway’s challenge to Titleist’s dominance is serious with a reported investment of $50 million into research and development leading up to the launch of the Chrome Soft range.
Callaway hasn’t lost its focus at the grassroots level of the game as it too competes against the other golf ball manufacturers in the affordable, durable golf ball range.
Callaway has also invested in different forms of innovation on visual aids on their golf ball range.
Their distinctive “Triple Track” and “Truvis” designs help golfers of all abilities line up putts and tee shots with more accuracy.
TaylorMade was an established equipment manufacturer with the distinction of launching the first metal wood in the late 70s.
Building on that reputation, TaylorMade entered the golf ball brand market in 1999 without much success.
Things changed however with the acquisition of the Maxfli brand in 2002 giving TaylorMade the opportunity to use a well-established name in the golf ball market.
In 2006 TaylorMade launched the Tour Preferred black and red lines which was their initial stab at making a dent in the dominance of the Titleist Pro V range.
That line matured into the TP5 range which was launched in 2017.
The “5” refers to the fact that the ball is constructed of 5 layers compared to the Pro V1 which is only 2 layers – core and cover.
The basic principle for creating a ball with 5 layers is that each layer is designed to perform a certain function that helps provide the ball’s overall performance.
The inner 3 layers help optimize carry whilst the 4th layer is a harder layer that improves distance and the 5th layer – the cover helps maximize the spin characteristics and feel of the ball.
Since their launch, the TP5 and TP5X have certainly made some inroads into Titleist’s dominance.
TaylorMade also matches the other golf ball manufacturers in offering cheaper balls that provide more distance and durability for newer or higher handicap golfers to get high levels of performance from the golf ball.
Srixon bucked the trend of the other manufacturers to a degree in the respect that they were known as a golf ball brand before players got familiar with their irons and woods.
And whilst Srixon has now built up a strong reputation for their irons and woods their golf balls continue to offer something for every level of player.
Srixon’s big success comes from the AD333 line which is one of the longest-standing models in the range.
The AD333 is a model that works best for a wide variety of players who are looking for good performance off the tee but with feel and control around the greens.
One major plus point of the entire Srixon range is their price point.
Srixon models generally come in at a cheaper price point compared to some of the other golf ball manufacturers.
If price is the key driver in your decision-making then Srixon is definitely worth a look.
Srixon also offers a premium range that is used by players such as Brooks Koepka, Keegan Bradley, Shane Lowry, and Hideki Matsuyama
The Z-Star has three different models which are tailored toward better players’ requirements.
Most notable is the Z-Star XV model which is best suited to players with higher swing speeds and has a marginally harder feel compared to the Z-Star and Z-Star Diamond models.
Other Notable golf ball Brands
The golf ball brands we have concentrated on are the brands that are most used by the current top 100 of the PGA Tour.
We should, however, also mention Bridgestone who has two players within the top 100 – Jason Day and Matt Kuchar.
Tiger Woods also plays a Bridgestone ball but it is currently unclear when we’ll see him back out on the course.
Maxfli used to be the main contender to Titleist back in the balata days with players such as Jack Nicklaus, Fred Couples, and John Daly playing Maxfli balls.
The Maxfli golf ball brand was bought by TaylorMade in 2002 which helped launch TM’s assault on the premium ball market.
The relationship only lasted 4 years and Maxfli was acquired by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Maxfli launched its updated its Tour range at the start of 2023 but with the competition so strong making headway is difficult regardless of the brand’s historic qualities.
Nike made a major splash on the golf ball scene when Tiger Woods switched to a Nike ball in 2000.
Tiger was at arguably his greatest in 2000 and won the U.S. Open by a record-breaking 15 shots with the new Nike golf ball.
The Tour Accuracy that Nike created was potentially as groundbreaking a development in golf ball technology as the Titleist Pro V1 and with the game’s greatest player spearheading the ball things looked good for Nike.
Although Nike did have many other tour players on their books it was always felt that the premium ball was designed to meet Woods’ particular requirements.
Signing Rory McIlroy at the end of 2012, Nike now had arguably the biggest up-and-coming star in world golf but McIlroy initially struggled not only with the clubs but with the ball as well.
Sadly, we don’t know if Nike could have become serious competition to Titleist, TaylorMade, Callaway, and Srixon as they pulled out of the equipment market in 2016.
The best golf ball brand can be defined in different ways.
Titleist has been producing golf balls for the longest period of time and their innovation can be traced from their first golf balls in the 30s through to the Pro V series.
But there is strong competition for Titleist with TaylorMade, Callaway, and Srixon all vying for position and each having a share of golf’ superstars using their product.
All these golf ball brands not only cater for the tour professional but they have a great range of golf balls available for every type of golfer out there.