Generally kids and younger juniors have slower swing speeds than adults and as a result they do not get all the benefits from a high compression "Tour" ball as does a low handicapper / high swing speed player. A less expensive low compression golf ball with a softer feel and lower spin may well be a good option for younger kids.
Golf balls are a very individual thing and while there are some technicalities in choosing the best golf balls for kids, it will often come down to look and feel. If your junior's favorite player uses Titleist Pro VI's then he/she may want to also. If the like a brightly colored soccer design ball, that might be the best for them. Similarly, adult recreational players with slower swing speeds do not always need or should use an expensive "Tour" ball.
This article provides general information to help you make an educated choice of golf balls for your junior golfer. We highly recommend golf ball fitting, although we understand that this is not possible for everyone, so we have also included some additional thoughts on this topic and how you can do some "ball fitting" on your local course, range and (most importantly) short game practice area. The best way to fit a ball for your junior is start with putting, chips and pitches. If you identify the best ball for these shots, chances are it will work for the driver and longer irons also.
Junior Golf Ball Fitting Quiz
This article provides detailed information on the technical considerations in choosing the right golf ball and also a list of recommended golf balls for juniors including the compression rating, construction and price point for each.
If, however, you are in a rush and want to see some balls that are recommended specifically for your junior, below is a quick 4 question quiz that will provide you with a list of suitable golf balls. This quiz is also suitable for any recreational player.
Junior Golf Ball Technical Considerations
The technical factors below are key considerations in choosing a golf golf.
Compression means that the golf ball momentarily changes from a sphere shape to an elongated oval (and back) at the moment of club impact, thus transferring energy from the club face to the ball as it momentarily flattens and then rebounds.
Compression ratings range from approx. 40 to 110. Golf balls (or their packaging) are often marked with the compression of the ball. Golf balls with compression ratings of more than 90 are generally used by advanced players with higher swing speeds.
If your junior has a swing speed less than 85 mph and are just looking for a little more distance and softer feel, they should consider a low compression / low spin golf ball. The guys at MyGolfSpy did an excellent article titled "Most wanted golf ball" and concluded that "A soft ball is a slow ball; it’s that simple. If you are playing a “soft” golf ball, it’s probably costing you distance off the tee (unless you swing under 85 MPH)...". Overall a great article to read but do note that many of the balls tested were subsequently replaced by more recent models that perform differently - in some cases the balls are significantly improved - e.g. Chrome Soft.
Note that compression ratings are more of a guideline than something to be relied solely on. Golf ball compression is not measured consistently across all manufacturers and even the same make and model golf balls will have varying compression ratings due to manufacturing and material differences.
The compression rating of a golf ball is largely driven by its construction. Balls are either 2-piece construction or multi-layer construction.
A 2-piece ball has a one large solid core surrounded by an outer layer. 2-piece balls are suitable for slower swing speeds but less suitable for higher swing speeds. 2-piece balls have less spin than multi-layered balls and therefore some performance (e.g. stopping on the green) is sacrificed. Although low spin golf balls do not check up as quickly as higher spin golf balls, they also do not have as much side spin and as a result longer shots (e.g. drives) may be more accurate.
Popular 2-piece balls include the Titleist AVX (a premium, soft, low spin golf ball), Titleist Tour Soft, Titleist Velocity, Titleist True Feel, Top Flite Bomb, Top Flite XL, Bridgestone e6, Callaway Supersoft, Srixon Soft Feel, Wilson Staff Duo Soft, Taylormade Project (a) and (s), and Taylormade Noodle.
A multi-layered ball construction will generally be a little shorter off the tee for most juniors (e.g. juniors with driver swings speeds less than 85 mph) but may provide better feel and control into and around greens. If juniors are regularly playing courses where stopping the ball quickly (e.g. for short irons and wedges) is critical then you may want to consider a multi-layered ball that provides more spin.
Most tour performance balls are multi-layered - e.g. the Titleist Pro VI and Bridgestone Tour B's are 3-piece balls. The Titleist Pro VIx, Callaway 2018 Chrome Soft, Srixon Z-Star Tour, Volvik S4 are all 4-piece balls. Taylormade TP5's are 5-piece balls.
A newer ball to the market that some juniors are enjoying is the Wilson Staff Duo Urethane. It is a 3-piece, very low compression golf ball (55 rating), that still provides plenty of spin and is very suitable for juniors. The Volvik Vivid is another low compression, Urethane cover ball and kids will like the colors.
The two most common types of golf ball covers are Urethane and Non-Urethance (Ionomer, Surlyn etc.) is the most common Ionomer material). Urethane provides better feel and control but is not a durable as Surlyn. Surlyn usually has lower spin off the tee and into greens.
Since Urethane provides higher spin on irons and wedge shots, it is generally preferred by advanced players. The downside is that Urethane is more expensive, although in recent years many of the major ball manufacturers have come out with Urethane cover balls that are reasonably priced. Balls that provide both good distance and performance on/around the green usually have a Urethane or similar type cover. Advanced juniors playing tournament golf will benefit from Urethane cover balls, especially on scoring shots from 150 yards and closer.
Many manufacturers will provide good detail on their line of golf balls on their website and most also have some sort of interactive fitting guide or even a video enabled fitting guide, such as the Bridgestone one below.
Look and Feel
Although this is not a technical consideration, it is just as important. Does your junior like the look of their golf ball (cool golf balls will make the game more enjoyable for younger kids), and does it feel good to them with their driver, irons, wedges and putter?
The look of a golf ball can also impact performance. For example the Callaway Truvis technology (actually just a design like a soccer ball) apparently can actually help with focus and visibility. Truvis stands for True Visibility and there might be something to it - take a look at the balls pictured below (click to see full size image), the balls are the same size but the Truvis design does seem larger and inspires a little more comfort at address!
As far as "feel" goes, some high compression golf balls can feel like hitting a rock, especially on cold days when the compression of the ball is even higher. In general we find that many younger kids prefer the feel of a soft compression ball and/or a Urethane cover.
Junior Golf Ball Fitting
The key to identifying the best ball for your junior is to start on the short game practice area, with putting, chips and pitches. These shots comprise the majority of the shots during a round and are commonly regarded as critical "scoring shots". Next, move to irons from 150 yards and in which also rely on getting optimal spin for the junior. Once you have narrowed it down you can then test the ball(s) with longer irons, fairways woods and driver.
To narrow down ball selection for your junior you can do some basic ball fitting yourself, or with the assistance of a professional fitter or your child's golf coach. A professional fitter or a coach with a trackman or other launch monitor can provide the best feedback on ball speed, spin, carry and total distance.
Many retail golf shops will also provide the opportunity to hit various balls in their hitting bays, although you may need to buy or bring your own balls to some. Most of the major ball manufacturers have a ball fitting questionnaire on their sites which can be helpful also. Many also have golf ball "fitting days" at your local range which are a great opportunity to take advantage of their knowledge and technology.
If you want to do your own basic fitting, buy a sleeve of the various makes and model golf balls that you want to try and hit them on an outdoor launch monitor. There are a number of good personal and portable launch monitors ranging in price from around $200 to $500. For example the FlightScope Mevo can be used indoors or outdoors and provides readings including carry distance, club head speed, ball speed, smash factor, vertical launch angle, spin, apex height and flight time. We like the FlightScope Mevo for ball fitting as it includes ball spin that some of the other cheaper launch monitors do not.
A launch monitor help determine which balls perform the best on full shots (distance, spin and direction) - disregard mishits and compare the average of well struck shots. If you take the launch monitor onto the course when it is not busy then you can then also retrieve your balls (you don't want to lose them on the range!). Also use all the balls for pitches, chips and putts to see which you like the feel of most. Ultimately the feel of the ball on short game shots is most important.
If you do not have access to an outdoor launch monitor you can take your sample of golf balls to your local course at the end of the day when it is quiet and try them out on a nice wide fairway. Record the feel and distance of well hit shots until you have a large enough sample to determine which ball actually goes further. By doing this you can narrow down the selection and repeat the process until you determine which is the longest off the tee and which you like the feel of the most.
Golf Balls for Younger Juniors
The golf balls listed below are good choices for kids with slower swing speeds (e.g. less than 80-85 mph) and driver carry distance of less than 200 yards.
Given the huge amount of options available and personal preferences, this is not intended to be an all-inclusive list but a good place to start with softer feel golf balls.
Click on the column headers to sort the table data.
Ball Make and Model
Wilson Duo Soft+
2 Piece, Non-Urethane
Vice Pro and Pro+
4 Piece, Urethane
Titleist Tour Speed
3 Piece, Urethane
3 Piece, Urethane
TaylorMade Tour Response
3 Piece, Urethane
TaylorMade Soft Response
2 Piece, Non-Urethane
Srixon Q Star Tour
3 Piece, Urethane
3 Piece, Urethane
Callaway Chrome Soft
4 Piece, Urethane
Bridgestone Tour BX and BXS
3 Piece, Urethane
Titleist Pro V1 X
4 Piece, Urethane
Top Rated Golf Balls for Older Juniors
Although many of the lower compression golf balls in the above table can also be used by golfers with driver swing speeds above 85 and who carry a driver 200+ yards, these juniors may benefit from multi-piece golf balls with medium compression ratings and Urethane covers.
Some good examples of quality, medium to high compression golf balls include:
- Titleist Pro VI (~90 compression rating)
- Taylormade TP5 (~85 compression rating)
- Bridgestone Tour B X or XS (~85/75 compression rating).
The Pro VIx, TP5x and Tour BX are all a slightly higher compression rating than the Pro VI, TP5, and Tour B RXS respectively.
Fun Golf Balls for Kids
Volvik Vivid Marvel Golf Balls
Does your junior golfer like Captain America, Iron Man or Spider Man? If so, these Volvik Vivid Marvel edition golf balls are for them!
Not only do they look great and appeal to kids, these are high quality matte-finish, three-piece golf balls that have Volvik’s new oversized energy core. They come in pack of four and include a cool magnetic hat-clip super hero ball marker.
These are ideal for juniors with club head speeds of 70-90 mph. They are designed to produce lower driver spin & higher wedge spin with a mid-to-high ball flight and have a Volvik compression rating of 75.
Glow in the Dark Golf Balls
Kids love anything that is glow in the dark and glow in the dark golf balls are no exception. Using a pack of glow sticks you can make a glow in the dark course and have some fun with the kids. Pictured above, the PGA National Resort & Spa in West Palm Beach, sets up a great night-putting course at many of its junior golf tournaments. We recommend using 22 inch and 8 inch glow sticks for setting up your course.
With good quality luminous golf balls (i.e. as opposed to LED light up balls that are used for putting), you can even play a few shorts holes (e.g. as par 3's) in the dark with your kids (take a flashlight or headlamp). Some golf clubs even have occasional evening or night golf outings for members.
Decorated Golf Balls
Lots of kids love DIY decorated golf balls. Some colored sharpies will do the trick - let them draw their favorite pet, super-hero or scary face. We recommend using a lower cost ball for them to decorate! Note that heavily decorated golf balls, like the cool golf balls below, can leave colored marks on the face of golf clubs but wont significantly affect performance.
We also like the various Tin Cup Ball Marker designs and kids often have more than one of these in their bags at any one time. Get a pack of different colored sharpies with it and kids will enjoy the creative process of marking up their golf balls.
Golf ball stickers are also a nice idea for kids and there are various different designs available. Golfdotz are good quality, highly rated and sold online and in various large golf shops. This is an easy way to turn otherwise boring golf balls into cool golf balls for both kids and adults.
Note that some "decorated" golf balls are not meant for regular play, will likely not perform very well, and may even not be legal to use in tournaments. An example of these would be balls found in baseball parks (e.g. with team logos), amusement centers, tourist attractions etc.
Novelty Golf Balls
Kids love novelty golf balls such as the floating ball, the unputtable ball (off-balance), the unwinding ball and the favorite for kids, the exploding ball. Make golf fun and grab a couple of exploding balls for the next outing with your kids!
Lower compression golf balls can be a great option for kids - or anyone with a slower swing speed. An additional upside of a low spin golf ball is that that it also does not spin sideways as much and may reduce the impact of slices and hooks. Ideally you want a ball that will fly and stop about the same distance.
The amount of back-spin varies based on location and green type so where you play the majority of your rounds might be a consideration. For example, if you are playing mostly on fast, hard, bermuda greens then a higher spin ball may be desirable, whereas if you are playing mostly on soft bent grass greens then it may not be quite as important.
We highly recommend that your junior tries out a variety of golf balls, including some of the lower compression golf balls listed above, either in a golf ball fitting session or on the course.
Most important is to pick one golf ball that they like and play with it consistently rather than jumping from one make/model to another. Juniors will get more benefit from learning the characteristics of the ball they are playing with than chasing a few extra yards or a little more spin.