Are Premium Golf Balls worth the premium price tag?

Should I pay premium for brand new 3/4 piece golf balls?

Unless you don't pay for your own golf balls or never lose them, I'm sure you have asked yourself this question.

In this blog, I put my gamer premium golf ball up against 2 cheaper alternatives and see what the Skytrak says about whether I'm getting value for money or I'm just flushing my hard earned dollars down the drain.

Being a weekend club golfer with a fairly average swing speed, I hope this will help most amateur/club golfers in making a sound golf ball purchase decision.

The Contenders

Kaizen Golf | Golf Ball Compare

For this test, I picked the 3 most popular choices golfers opt for - the brand new premium ball, the "lake ball' and the budget ball.

Premium Ball

These are typically the 3 to 4 piece golf balls with a urethane cover, e.g. Titleist Prov1, Callaway Chromesoft and Taylormade TP5. Regardless of the manufacturer, these balls are supposed to give you extra distance off the tee and spin/control around the greens. These balls tend to retail for $50+ per dozen.

The specific ball that I've used for this test is my regular gamer which is the Srixon Z-star XV which is a 4 piece ball with a urethane cover. It's on the more economical side of the premium ball bracket and retails at around $50 per dozen (~$4.20 per ball).

"Lake" Ball

We all know what they are - these are used golf balls which are usually fished out from water hazards. Depending on the type of ball and the condition they are in, prices for these balls can be varied. But they are much much cheaper than the brand new equivalents.

There's a lot of debate online about whether it performs the same as the brand new balls, but looks like the jury is still out.

For this test, I used my practice balls which are used Srixon Z-star XVs. I paid around $100 for 50 balls (~$2 per ball). To me, they look, sound and feel every bit like their brand new cousins. 

Budget Ball

These are typically 2 piece balls which retail at a much lower price point. Compared to a premium ball, If you read into the marketing etc, you are either compromising on distance off the tee or spin/control around the greens, or both. 

For this test, I used the Callaway Supersoft which is a 2 piece ball with a cheaper (surlyn) cover. These balls have had really good reviews since they were launched by Callaway. They retail for around $30 per dozen (~$2.50 per ball).

Quick disclaimer before we get to the test results - we at Kaizen Golf do not sell golf balls. I buy all my balls, the tests are conducted with balls I purchased myself and I'm not looking to persuade you into buying premium balls, lake balls or entry level balls. 

The Test

So should I be continuing to game my brand-spanker Z-Star XVs or be opting for one of the cheaper alternatives? I certainly know which option is better for my hip pocket. So lets find out if I'm paying too much for golf balls.

To try and get a complete picture of how these balls perform, I tested these balls in each of the following 4 scenarios and captured ball data using my Skytrak launch monitor

  • 50m pitch with a 60 degree wedge
  • 90-100m shot which is a full shot with a 50 degree wedge for me - my favourite 'lay up to' distance.
  • 7 iron full swings
  • Driver

Kaizen Golf ball test with skytrak

For each scenario, I hit 20 shots with each ball to get a good population of data points. I did have to discard a few shots which were just complete miss-hits. Yes I hit more than 240 shots for this test, and thankfully didn't have to hit them all in the one day :).

So let's get to the results! They were interesting!

The 50m Pitch

For this test, I set a green at 50m out and focused on 2 things

  • Consistency of distance - I'm using the standard deviation of the carry distance to determine this
  • Stopping power - I'm using the 'roll' number for this. Yes you can look at spin, height, decent angle etc but I think the result of these metrics is how far the ball will roll on the green after it pitches.

Kaizen golf ball testing - 50m pitch

Here are the numbers.

Kaizen golf ball test 50m pitch data


  • In terms of consistency of carry distance, there was nothing in it with the standard deviation number between 2.38m - 2.77m. I'm pretty sure it's more reflective of my skill level than the balls tested. 
  • There was nothing in it in terms of stopping power too with the 50m pitch, with the Callaway Supersoft rolling forward 10cm, the lake ball spinning back 35cm and the new Z-star XV stopping dead. We are talking about a total difference between the balls of just over a foot. Side note - all balls generated a healthy dose of backspin as well. 

So based on the 50m pitch shot, for me, there was no advantage gained by using the premium ball. Let's hit some full shots.

The Gap Wedge Test

Similar to the 50m pitch shot, I set the green at 100m and wanted to test out the dispersion in carry distance as well as stopping power.

Kaizen golf ball test gap wedge 

The results start to get interesting here...

Kaizen golf ball test GW


  • Although again there was very little in the standard deviation in carry distances between the 3 balls, the lake ball was noticeably shorter. My theory is that it was due to it producing the highest spin numbers. Carry numbers produced by the 2 new balls were much closer to what I'm used to on the course.
  • Again all 3 balls had plenty of stopping power with the Supersoft rolling out the longest at 70cm, I'd be happy with that. 

Based on the numbers in this test, for me, the cheaper Supersoft is just as good. I would probably not be taking the risk of having the lake ball rolling off the front of the green though.

Let's now hit some trusty 7 irons.

7 Iron Test

For the 7 iron, I set the green at 135m which is my usual 7 iron distance. The data tells a very similar story as the Gap Wedge test.

Kaizen Ball test 7i data


  • All 3 balls again produced very good distance dispersion numbers. However, the lake ball was again almost half a club shorter.
  • The Callaway Supersoft was rolling out a little bit longer than the 4 piece ball, but only by about 1m.

Again based on the numbers, I would be mad to spend the extra money on premium balls?

Finally let's do the driver test.

The Driver Test

For the driver test, I set the Skytrak to fairway mode and was only interested in carry and total distances. Yes you can look at spin etc, but to me it's the result that counts.

This is the test that made the penny drop for me, see numbers below.

Kaizen Golf ball test - driver data


  • Yes before you say anything - I need to get more yards off the Tee. I've got something planned, watch this space.
  • Now we have that covered off - WOW! The brand new Z-Star XV left it's competitors for dead! There was a considerable jump in ball speed with the premium ball which would be the reason for the ~10m extra carry distance over the other 2 balls. 

Before We Wrap Up

One thing which I didn't cover in my test was 'feel' - be it off the putter face, with short chips etc etc. I just think that 'feel' is so personal and subjective - I really enjoy the 'clickier' sound I get from the Z-Star XV where others may prefer something that sounds 'softer' like a Chromesoft. I don't get on at all with the Chromesoft as I 'feel' that I'm putting a round marsh mellow. So this aspect was not considered intentionally. 

Final Thoughts

Having to hit over 240 shots for this test, it was hard work. At the same time I'm so glad that I did this test. 

Purely based on numbers from my tests, here are my final thoughts:

  • Keep lake balls off the course, especially when you are playing competitively - they may look like the brand new balls, but you are short-changing yourself with these cheaper balls (pun intended). Having said that, I will continue to practice with these balls, I just won't be using them for things like gap testing or simulator play. 
  • For my skill level and speed, there were no discernible differences when it came to pitch shots, short irons and mid irons. So for the average player playing on a shorter track, you maybe paying too much for golf balls if you are teeing up brand new ProV1s.
  • With the driver, you can't look past the 10m+ I was able to get with the premium ball. My home club is Par 72 with a slop rating of 139, so being not a long hitter, I could use all the distance I can get. The premium balls are definitely staying in the bag for the Sunday comp.

This test has certainly helped me in making an informed decision when buying golf balls. I hope this has helped you too. 

Also please feel free to get in touch if you have any feedback on our golf ball test or if you have any questions. 

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