The golf ball is the only piece of equipment that all golfers, pros and amateurs, men and women, high handicap and low handicap all use for every shot without fail.
Making sure you choose the right one for your game is therefore clearly important and given their focus on achieving whatever marginal gains they can wherever they can it makes sense for us to take a detailed look at what golf balls the best professional golfers in the world go with.
So we took the best players on the PGA Tour and did a detailed analysis of the golf balls the pros are currently using.
The top 100 PGA Tour players use 9 different golf balls produced by 5 manufacturers. 69% play a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x with Callaway’s Chrome Soft X the next most popular. 7% play Srixon’s Z-Star XV, 6% use TaylorMade’s TP5x with only 2% each using the TP5 & Bridgestone’s Tour B X and XS balls.
We didn’t stop there though and so we went further and looked at which players were using which specific ball and just to be complete we also took a look at the question of whether the pros are using the same golf balls as us lowly amateurs or whether they get ‘special’ versions made just for them!
What Titleist Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Starting with the clear majority winner a Titleist golf ball is used by 69% of the top 100 players on the PGA Tour – by far the most of all the major brands.
What’s interesting also is how many pros use the Pro V1 or Pro V1x and of that group the split between which version they play is close to straight down the middle with 36 of the top 100 players choosing the softer and spinnier Pro V1 and 33 opting for the firmer and slightly longer playing Pro V1x.
|Titleist Pro V1||Titleist Pro V1x|
|Viktor Hovland, Harris English, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Daniel Berger||Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Joaquin Niemann, Carlos Ortiz, Stewart Cink|
|Patrick Reed, Cameron Smith, Jason Kokrak, Robert Streb, Hudson Swafford||Brooks Koepka, Sungjae Im, Kevin Na, Peter Malnati, Wyndham Clark|
|Brian Gay, Abraham Ancer, Webb Simpson, Adam Long, Corey Conners||Ryan Palmer, Cameron Tringale, Russell Henley, James Hahn, Cameron Davis|
|Kevin Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen, Talor Gooch, Mackenzie Hughes, Lanto Griffin||Chris Kirk, Matt Jones, J.T. Poston, Jordan Spieth, Nate Lashley|
|Charley Hoffman, Doug Ghim, Tom Hoge, Brian Harman, Scottie Scheffler||Kevin Streelman, Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Patton Kizzire, Tyrrell Hatton, Zach Johnson|
|Austin Cook, Sebastián Muñoz, Billy Horschel, Paul Casey, Michael Thompson||Bubba Watson, Brendon Todd, C.T. Pan, Lucas Glover, Matthew Fitzpatrick|
|Denny McCarthy, Brandon Hagy, Charles Howell III, Joel Dahmen, Branden Grace, Matt Wallace||Lee Westwood, Richy Werenski, Rory Sabbatini|
Titleist has claimed the title of the #1 ball in golf since the 1949 US Open at Medinah Country Club and it seems based on these numbers they have good reason to keep on making such a claim as it continues to be played by more players on the PGA Tour than all the other golf ball brands combined.
What TaylorMade Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Not everyone uses the same ball on the PGA Tour of course and some big names opt for versions of balls produced by the other big manufacturers, including Taylor Made.
While only 8 of the Top 100 PGA Tour players use Taylor Made golf balls currently there have been an equal amount of majors – eight – won between them. The two versions played with by these golfers are the TaylorMade TP5 and the TP5x which launches higher and with less spin than its compatriot.
Of the two golf balls the TP5 should launch lower but with more spin and with its compression being almost identical it is the most similar TaylorMade ball to the Titleist Pro V1.
In terms of which players are using which version of the TaylorMade TP5 golf ball in the top 100 of the PGA Tour the list is as follows:
- TaylorMade TP5 – Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa
- TaylorMade TP5x – Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Norlander, Rory McIlroy, Harry Higgs and Tommy Fleetwood.
What Bridgestone Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Moving onto the use of Bridgestone golf balls amongst the best 100 players on the PGA Tour it is perhaps surprising that the ball favoured by arguably the greatest golfer of all time – Tiger Woods – is only used by four of his colleagues.
Adam Rehberg, Bridgestone’s golf ball fitting manager remarked in 2020 that the sound of the golf ball was so important to Tiger that he would “turn a ball away just for the fact that it didn’t sound like he wanted it to.”
Given such exacting standards it is interesting to note that only Jason Day and Brendan Steele of the current top 100 PGA Tour players use the same TOUR B XS golf ball as the golfing legend.
Perhaps not so surprising however is the inclusion of another golfer – Bryson DeChambeau – on the Bridgestone golf ball playing roster as he continues to aim to re-invent the game of golf in other ways with his novel approaches to fitness and the golf swing.
The big man is currently sending the TOUR B X version soaring previously unheard of distances down the fairway.
Matt Kuchar is the final name on the Bridgestone golf ball list in the top 100 also playing the TOUR B X.
What Callaway Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Another great of the game, Phil Mickelson has been a loyal Callaway stable member for a long time now and continues to use Callaway Chrome Soft X ball.
Although Mickelson currently sits well outside the top 100 on the PGA list unfortunately the Callaway Chrome Soft X ball is still the second most played golf ball behind the Titleist Pro V1’s with 11% of the leading PGA players currently using it including the current number 3 and number 5 player in the world rankings – Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele.
The full list of top 100 PGA pros currently using Callaway golf balls is as follows:
- Xander Schauffele (Chrome Soft X)
- Jon Rahm (Chrome Soft X)
- Si Woo Kim (Chrome Soft X)
- Sam Burns (Chrome Soft X)
- Maverick McNealy (Chrome Soft X)
- Aaron Wise (Chrome Soft X)
- Tyler McCumber (Chrome Soft X)
- Emiliano Grillo (Chrome Soft X)
- Marc Leishman (Chrome Soft X)
- Francesco Molinari (Chrome Soft X)
- Dylan Frittelli (Chrome Soft X).
What Srixon Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Of the best hundred golfers on the PGA Tour only five manufacturers are represented when it comes to brands of golf ball being played and the last one of these on our detailed analysis list is Srixon.
Only 8 of the top 100 PGA pros play a Srixon golf ball placing them third on the manufacturer’s list within that group. In terms of which Srixon golf ball these players use all of them choose the Srixon Z-Star XV ball with the sole exception of Keegan Bradley who prefers the Srixon Z-Star.
The complete list of pros using a Srixon golf ball is as follows:
- Martin Laird
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Matthew NeSmith
- Russell Knox
- Sepp Straka
- Keegan Bradley
- Andrew Putnam
- Shane Lowry.
What Compression Golf Balls Do the Pros Use?
No matter what standard of golfer we are we all have a tendency to focus a lot on the stats of the game.
And that focus is not just confined to the numbers on our scorecard and how they came about but also often come to the fore with respect to the equipment we use as well.
And when it comes to golf balls one of the numbers many players can obsess over is compression.
Put simply the ‘compression’ of a golf ball happens when it gets squashed against the club face when you hit it. And the amount of compression is affected both by the ‘firmness’ of the golf ball’s core and also the speed of your swing.
When I was playing the most back in the day the key question was whether you used a Titleist 90 compression balata ball or the 100 compression version.
But what’s happening today when it comes to which compression of golf balls the pros are using?
Analysis of the golf balls played by the top 100 golfers on the PGA Tour shows 53% choose a ‘firm’ compression ball with the remaining 47% opting for ‘extra firm’. There is however no universal test for golf ball compression with every manufacturer using different methods and standards of testing.
‘Firm’ compression golf balls include the Titleist Pro V1, Callaway Chrome Soft X, TaylorMade TP5, Bridgestone Tour B XS and Srixon Z-Star. In the ‘extra firm’ compression camp meanwhile is the Bridgestone Tour B X , Srixon Z-Star XV, TaylorMade TP5x and of course the Titleist Pro V1x.
As there is no industry standard for compression rates though, and indeed the main manufacturers don’t even bother to advertise them any more, it would seem to make the job of amateurs choosing the right ball even more difficult.
However given the huge advances that have been made in golf ball technology over the last couple of decades, especially in the development of the synthetic materials used, the quality of the options available to mainstream golfers when it comes to golf balls has increased massively.
It’s better therefore to think of compression in terms of categories – extra soft, soft, medium, firm and extra firm – and choose one made by your preferred manufacturer that’s appropriate to your playing ability and budget.
In general poorer golfers with slower swing speeds will get more from softer compression versions while better players will prefer firmer golf balls but the best way to find out which compression of ball works best for you is to try a few out and not worry a lot about what the pros are using.
Do the Pros Use Special Golf Balls?
It’s hard not to watch golf on the TV these days and not wonder whether the pros are actually using the same equipment as we can buy ourselves.
But what is the reality and specifically when it comes to the golf balls they use?
Many pro golfers use the same golf balls that the public can buy but some use versions of the same ball that have minor differences and are only available to the pros. These ‘special’ balls must still be listed on the USGA conforming golf ball list & carry a unique marking identifier such as a star.
According to veteran club builder Jeff Markgraf however these ‘Tour only’ versions of golf balls “.. are not better than what is sold to consumers, [but just have] a little different performance that certain players are looking for.”
2018 British Open Champion, Francesco Molinari for example uses a ‘diamond’ prototype version of the Callaway Chrome Soft X golf ball because he feels it delivers more of the performance characteristics he is looking for compared to the ones we buy in the golf store.
I think it’s safe to say however that whatever the differences are in these unique golf balls the pros use they wouldn’t make any difference to, or be noticed by, 99.9% of mainstream golfers!
|Golf Ball||Number of ‘versions’ on USGA / R&A Conforming Balls List|
|Bridgestone TOUR B X||16|
|Bridgestone TOUR B XS||10|
|Callaway Chrome Soft X||19|
|Srixon Z-Star XV||28|
|Titleist Pro V1||14|
|Titleist Pro V1x||12|
Products mentioned in this article:
- Bridgestone TOUR B X – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- Bridgestone TOUR B XS – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- Callaway Chrome Soft X – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- Srixon Z-Star – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- Srixon Z-Star XV – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- TaylorMade TP5 – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- TaylorMade TP5x – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- Titleist Pro V1 – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- Titleist Pro V1x – Check the latest price on Amazon here
[Editor’s note – We’ve also taken a detailed look at why don’t pros use coloured golf balls in another article which you can check out here.]