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 gaining whatever marginal gains they can wherever they can it makes sense for us to take a look at what golf balls the best pro golfers in the world choose to play with.
So we took the best golfers on the PGA Tour and did a detailed analysis of the golf balls they are currently using.
Titleist golf balls are the most used by the top 100 PGA Tour pros with 71% playing a Pro V1, Pro V1x or Pro V1 Left Dot. Callaway and Srixon balls are each used by 10 players with TaylorMade balls used by 7. Bridgestone balls are chosen by 2 pros. In total 11 golf ball models made by these 5 brands are used by this group.
We didn’t stop there though.
We did a bunch more work to look at which specific ball each pro in the top 100 is using, discovered who is playing soft or hard golf balls, and analyzed whether anything has changed in terms of what the pros consider to be the best golf ball since we last carried out this study a couple of years back.
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 by the big golf ball brands!
What Titleist Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
When we did this analysis two years ago Titleist was again the dominant golf ball brand with just over two-thirds using their balls and in 2023 that dominance has increased with 71% of the top 100 players on the PGA Tour now using a Titleist golf ball.
That is a whopping seven times more than the next most played balls made by Srixon and Callaway whose models are only played by 10 golfers each among the best players on the tour.
Titleist Pro V1’s are used by 38 of the top 100 PGA Tour pros with 29 choosing the firmer and slightly longer playing Pro V1x. A further 4 players, including Tony Finau and Cameron Young use Titleist’s Pro V1 left dot ball, which is designed to be a lower-flying, lower spinning version of the Pro V1 for long game shots.
A complete list of which Titleist golf balls the leading 100 PGA pros are using is listed below and includes the majority of the very best golfers on the tour such as world no.1 Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Viktor Hovkand and Kevin Kisner all of whom keep a Pro V1 in play.
Stars such as Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick, Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, and 2023 US Open champion Wyndham Clark meanwhile choose the Pro V1x as does Adam Scott who has also been known on occasion to use and win multiple tournaments with the Pro V1 Left Dot ball.
|GOLF BALL||NO. OF TOP 100 PGA TOUR PROS USING BALL||LIST OF PLAYERS|
|Titleist Pro V1||38||Scottie Scheffler, Will Zalatoris, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Viktor Hovland, Tom Hoge, Corey Conners, Kevin Kisner, Aaron Wise, Brian Harman, Talor Gooch, Davis Riley, Sahith Theegala, Seamus Power, Anirban Lahiri, Keith Mitchell, Cameron Tringale, Denny McCarthy, Mito Pereira, Luke List, Jason Kokrak, Mackenzie Hughes, Cam Davis, Lucas Glover, Chez Reavie, Troy Merritt, Taylor Moore, Paul Casey, Lanto Griffin, Hudson Swafford, Joel Dahmen, John Huh, Adam Long, Doug Ghim, Aaron Rai, Adam Schenk, Hayden Buckley, Stephen Jaegar.|
|Titleist Pro V1x||29||Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatick, Justin Thomas, Jordan Speith, Adam Scott, Wyndham Clark, Tyrrell Hatton, Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith, Joaquin Niemann, Scott Stallings, K.H. Lee, J.T. Potson, Russell Henley, Tom Kim, Chris Kirk, Harold Varner III, Trey Mullinax, Gary Woodland, Matt Jones, Abraham Ancer, Beau Hossler, Brendon Todd, Alex Smalley, Brandon Wu, Lee Hodges, Kevin Streelman, Patrick Rodgers, C.T. Pan|
|Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot||4||Cameron Young, Tony Finau, Sebastián Muñoz, Daniel Berger|
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 PGA Tour players than all the other golf ball brands combined and multiplied by 2!
And for those of you not familiar with the Titleist Pro V1 Left Dot there is good reason for that.
It has never been on retail shelves and was only being sold for a limited time until recently almost exclusively through Titleist.com.
We discuss the question of whether pros use special golf balls in more depth below but in brief the Pro V1 Left Dot is what is called a Custom Performance Option or CPO golf ball which is a ball that is only available to you if you play on one of the pro tours or if you are one of a very select few elite amateur golfers!
What TaylorMade Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Not everyone uses the same golf ball on the PGA Tour of course and a few big names opt for versions of balls produced by the other big manufacturers, including Taylor Made.
7 of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use either the TaylorMade TP5 or TP5x golf balls. Collin Morikawa plays the TP5 as does Justin Rose. Rory McIlroy chooses the higher launching and lower spinning TP5x alongside Tommy Fleetwood who uses the Pix version to help his putting alignment. Rickie Fowler is another TP5x Pix user.
Although Fowler sat outside the top 100 at the time of our analysis it has been great to see him back to his best, challenging at the top of leaderboards, and the Pix version of both the TP5 and TP5x golf balls that he co-developed with TaylorMade has actually helped Tommy Fleetwood solve a key issue with his putting.
Assuming originally that the pixelated orange and black markings were simply a funky design feature added as a nod to Fowler’s alma mater – Oklahoma State University – Fleetwood discovered after discussions with TaylorMade that the purpose of the triangle design was really there to assist with alignment of putts.
Fleetwood had been struggling on the greens with the issue of where he thought he was aiming compared to where he was in reality lined up being a fraction off, and after some testing realized that the Pix markings, designed to roll end over end and create a pathway on the ball as it rolls, helped solve his aim problem.
Comparing the TP5 and TP5x versions also 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.
2-time major champion and former world no.1 Dustin Johnson, who now plays his golf on the LIV Tour is also a long-term user of the TaylorMade TP5x golf ball, and in terms of which players are using which version of TaylorMade golf ball in the top 100 of the PGA Tour the full list is as follows:
- TaylorMade TP5 – Collin Morikawa, Lucas Herbert, Justin Rose
- TaylorMade TP5x – Rory McIlroy, Kurt Kitayama, Matthew Wolff and Tommy Fleetwood (Pix version).
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’s Chrome Soft X ball.
Although Mickelson now also plays his golf on the LIV Tour when it comes to the golf balls being used by the best players on the PGA Tour Callaway balls are the second most used brand among the top 100 alongside Srixon.
10 of the top 100 PGA Tour pros use Callaway golf balls. 9 of the 10 choose Callaway’s Chrome Soft X ball including Jon Rahm, Sam Burns, and Maverick McNealy while the 2020 Olympic Champion – Xander Schauffele – is the only one of this group to use the Chrome Soft X ‘Low Spin’ (LS) version.
These numbers make the Chrome Soft X the most played golf ball among the top 100 behind the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x but our analysis also shows one less player in the top 100 chooses to play a Callaway golf ball in 2023 compared to the last time we carried out this in-depth analysis two years ago.
The complete list of the top 100 players on the PGA Tour currently using Callaway balls is as follows:
- Xander Schauffele (Chrome Soft X LS)
- Jon Rahm (Chrome Soft X)
- Sam Burns (Chrome Soft X)
- Si Woo Kim (Chrome Soft X)
- Maverick McNealy (Chrome Soft X)
- Adam Hadwin (Chrome Soft X)
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Chrome Soft X)
- Emiliano Grillo (Chrome Soft X)
- Marc Leishman (Chrome Soft X)
- Alex Noren(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 the brands of golf balls being played and the next one of these in our study list is Srixon.
Only 10 of the top 100 PGA Tour pros play a Srixon golf ball. Six of the ten play the Z-Star XV ball including Hideki Matsuyama and Shane Lowry while the remaining 4 choose the Z-Star Diamond model which is also used by 2023 USPGA Champion Brooks Koepka. None of this group uses the Srixon Z-Star.
Srixon has added a couple of top 100 PGA golfers to its roster since Golfing Focus last looked at the golf balls being used by this elite group a couple of years back but as we can see they still have a very long way to go in terms of affecting Titleist’s dominance.
The list of pros among the top 100 using a Srixon golf ball is as follows:
- Srixon Z-Star XV – Hideki Matsuyama, Shane Lowry, Taylor Pendrith, Andrew Putnam, Russell Knox, Matthew NeSmith
- Srixon Z-Star Diamond – Sepp Straka, Keegan Bradley, J.J.Spaun, Brooks Koepka
What Bridgestone Golf Ball Do the Pros Use?
Moving finally 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 two of his colleagues among the top pros on tour.
And that very small number is half of what it was the last time we did this analysis!
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 Matt Kuchar of the top 100 PGA Tour pros we looked at uses the same Tour B X golf ball as the golfing legend although Tiger did play the Tour B XS model in all his 15 major wins and only recently made the switch to the Tour B X ball prior to the Masters.
Jason Day, who looks certain to make a welcome return to the top ranks of the PGA Tour over the course of this season also uses the Tour B X ball while Brendan Steele, the second of the Bridgestone ball players in the top 100 chooses the Tour B XS version.
What Compression Golf Balls Do the Pros Use?
No matter what standard of golfer you 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 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 and with respect to the pros we often wonder what compression of ball they typically put in play, or in simpler terms whether they use hard or soft golf balls.
60% of the top 100 pros on the PGA Tour use a hard or ‘firm’ compression golf ball including Titleist’s Pro V1, Callaway’s Chrome Soft X, and Srixon’s Z-Star Diamond. The remaining 40% opt for an ‘extra firm’ golf ball such as the Pro V1x or TaylorMade TP5x while no PGA Tour pro uses a ‘soft’ golf ball.
Other ‘firm’ compression golf balls we discovered being used by this group included the Chrome Soft LS, the Pro V1 Left Dot, Bridgestone’s Tour B XS, and the Srixon Z-Star Diamond.
In the ‘extra firm’ compression camp meanwhile was also the Bridgestone Tour B X and Srixon Z-Star XV golf balls.
We look in depth at different golf ball compressions, and specifically the impact of how hard or soft a ball is affects distance in another post here, but put simply the ‘compression’ of a golf ball happens when it gets squashed against the club face when you hit it.
How much it changes shape at the point of impact determines its’ compression rating – between 30 to 110 – and a harder golf ball will change shape less than a softer one.
The amount of compression is also affected by the speed of a golfer’s swing and golfers with higher swingspeeds towards 100mph hit the ball further with harder golf balls – closer to the 110 compression end of the scale – but lose distance with soft or supersoft balls at the lower end of the compression scale.
Given the average swingspeed on the PGA Tour is around 114mph, and how important distance is in the game, it makes sense that the pros use hard golf balls because the amount of force they hit the ball with is so great that the ball benefits from having less ‘interaction time’ with the club face.
As a general rule therefore poorer golfers with slower swingspeeds of less than 80mph will get more from softer golf balls while better players will prefer firmer golf balls.
The best way however 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.
Things are made a bit more complicated by the fact that all the golf ball manufacturers use their own compression machine which means there is no industry standard compression number you can use to help you make your choice of ball.
But if you 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, your swingspeed will undoubtedly help guide you to the correct end of the hard or soft scale.
Do the Pros Use Different or Special Golf Balls?
It is hard to watch golf on 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 the public can buy but some use versions that have minor differences and are only available to the pros. These ‘custom performance option’ (CPO) balls must still be listed on the USGA conforming ball list and carry a unique marking identifier such as a diamond, dash, or dot.
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.”
Also occasionally – as Titleist did with first the Pro V1x Left Dash and more recently with the Pro V1 Left Dot – the big brands make these previously off-menu golf balls available to the public but you are unlikely to find them on the retail shelves as they are sold almost exclusively through the manufacturers’ websites.
These CPO balls are typically developed when the main manufacturers are working with Tour pros who are looking for performance characteristics that are slightly different from the balls we can buy in the golf store.
The Pro V1 Left Dot came about for example when some pros expressed interest in keeping the flight of their golf ball down, especially in the wind.
Titleist therefore developed the Left Dot as a CPO to deliver a ball to these players that flew lower and spun less than the Pro V1 when it came to the long game but that also produced the same greenside spin and control that the ‘standard’ Pro V1 model offered.
The Left Dot has since gone on to help the pros win over $0.25 billion on the PGA Tour as well as a couple of majors but 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 (including Soft X LS)|
|Srixon Z-Star||23 (including Z-Star Diamond)|
|Srixon Z-Star XV||28|
|Titleist Pro V1||14 (including Left Dot)|
|Titleist Pro V1x||12 (including Left Dash)|
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
- CALLAWAY CHROME SOFT X LS – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- SRIXON Z-STAR – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- SRIXON Z-STAR Diamond – 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
- TAYLORMADE TP5x Pix – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- TITLEIST PRO V1 – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- TITLEIST PRO V1 Left Dot – Check the latest price at Titleist.com
- TITLEIST PRO V1x – Check the latest price on Amazon here
- TITLEIST PRO V1x Left Dash – Check the latest price on Amazon here
[Note – Just so you know, and we are upfront as an affiliate program participant, Golfing Focus earns from qualifying purchases made through links on this page.]
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