If you have ever watched golf on television you will have undoubtedly noticed that every pro uses a white golf ball.
Coloured golf balls are used by many regular golfers throughout the world and clearly do exist but I guarantee you can probably count on one hand the number of times you have seen a pro using them no matter how long you have been playing or watching golf.
But if many amateurs use coloured golf balls why don’t the pros?
As a whole pros don’t use coloured golf balls because white balls are easier to see. Since pros depend on the game for their living it’s vital they maximise their ability to see the flight and where their ball goes. Bubba Watson and Hale Irwin are examples of major champions who have used coloured golf balls at times.
White golf balls are undoubtedly the golf ball of choice for the traditionalists and every iconic golfing moment has involved the pros using them in preference to a coloured one.
It is interesting to note though that there is a very large number of coloured golf balls pros are allowed to use and although visibility is the main reason they overwhelmingly choose white balls there have been a few occasions when some of the pros have broken with that tradition including even at Augusta!
[Editor’s note – this article was written in the UK so apologies to all our US readers who may think we have consistently spelt it wrong throughout this post. We know you spell it a different way – ‘color’ – and hope this doesn’t affect your enjoyment of the article]
Do Any Pro Golfers Use Yellow or Different Coloured Balls?
2-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is the highest-profile current pro to use coloured golf balls. He has regularly played PGA events, including the Masters, with a pink golf ball to match his pink driver. KJ Choi has also played a yellow ball on occasions as did 3-time US Open Champion Hale Irwin in the 1970s and 1980s.
When Bubba Watson started to use a pink golf ball in recent times it was immediately noticeable for the very reason that it seemed so out of place. Everyone else on the pro circuit had been using a white golf ball for so long that it seemed so unusual when he started doing it.
And not only was he using a pink golf ball but he also decided to do it during the Masters at Augusta which is certainly a place that is in the running for one of the most traditional golf clubs in the world.
In truth pink has been Bubba’s colour for a number of years now and started with his using of a pink driver which is part of a campaign alongside his sponsor’s PING. Every time Bubba drives the ball over 300 yards PING donates $300 dollars to his charity.
So in the 2017 Masters no less Bubba decided to use pink golf balls as an extension of his pink driver and continue the theme.
So much so that Watson signed a sponsorship deal at the time with Volvik a South Korean brand known for its coloured golf balls and who also supplies Bubba with the green golf balls he’s also be known to use now and again.
8-time PGA Tour winner KJ Choi is another one of the very few professionals to use a yellow golf ball in recent but there do not appear to be any other pros currently however who are following their lead when it comes to using coloured golf balls.
Wayne Levi was the first PGA pro to win a tournament using a coloured (orange) golf ball and US Open champions Hale Irwin and Jerry Pate occasionally favoured a yellow and orange ball respectively but you have to go back to the late 1970s and 1980s to remember that!
Can Professional Golfers Use Coloured Golf Balls?
One of the reasons you may think you almost never see professional golfers using coloured golf balls is that they are simply not allowed to do so because of rules on the PGA Tour or other major tours throughout the world.
The PGA Tour has no rule preventing pro golfers from using a coloured golf ball. Pros are allowed to use any golf ball in any of the major professional golf tours provided it is on the ‘List of Conforming Golf Balls’ issued by golf’s governing bodies, the USGA and R&A. Over 750 of the balls on the list are coloured.
The ‘List of Conforming Golf Balls’ is updated on a monthly basis and different golf balls are being consistently added to and removed from it however in general it is a relatively static list.
The table below highlights some of the coloured golf balls which are able to be used by any pro or amateur in any tournament at any time throughout the world.
|GOLF BALL COLOUR||NO. OF CONFORMING OPTIONS||EXAMPLES|
Volvik Power Soft
|Orange||83||Srixon Soft Feel|
Volvik Vimax Soft
Srixon Ladies Soft Feel
Bridgestone Lady Precept
Vice Pro Plus
Volvik Power Soft
|Silver||2||Chromax Metallic M5|
|Yellow||180||Callaway Chrome Soft X|
Bridgestone Tour B X / Tour B XS
Titleist Pro V1
TaylorMade TP5 / TP5x
As we can see from the above list yellow golf balls have the most options and this is reflected in it being the most common coloured golf ball used amongst all golfers by sheer volume of sales.
Orange and pink golf balls are the next most popular amongst golfers today because they are often easier to find in the rough, particularly in the Autumn due to the number of leaves that typically fall on golf courses.
Pink is also of course the colour of many charities and many golfers, professional and amateur, use them in certain tournaments in order to draw attention to their particular cause.
Why Do Most Golfers Prefer White Golf Balls?
As a general rule golfers use white golf balls because that is what they are familiar with. Consistency is key in golf whether that be a swing or putting stroke and the colour of the golf ball they choose is no different. Striking and watching the same coloured golf ball becomes second nature and to change alters the familiar.
Going back in time the first golf balls were actually coloured because of the material that they were made from. Golfers quickly expressed displeasure in this though due to the fact that the balls were more difficult to see.
As a result golfers as far back as the 17th century would often paint their golf balls white in order to make them easier to follow in flight and this has remained a consistent practice to this day.
Coloured golf balls are also more expensive due to the dyes that must be added during the manufacturing process.
Because of this, many of the top golf ball manufacturers, do not even have a coloured version in many of their product lines. And since the top brands sponsor most of the pro golfers they are also expected to use white golf balls when they play.
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