Urethane Vs Non-Urethane Golf Balls – What Is Best & For Who?
Why do some golf balls cost under $20 while others can fetch $50 a box?
The answer lies in the materials used to construct the ball, specifically the cover. These are usually either urethane or ionomer.
In this article, we are tackling the question of urethane vs non-urethane golf balls. The aim is to find out which is better and what you should be playing with.
We will also look at which ball is better for distance and which delivers the most spin.
Intro To Golf Ball Covers In Your Experience
When I started playing golf, I used to rummage through the bargain bin at the pro shop and find as many non-scuffed balls as I could.
As I progressed, I realized that balls with softer covers gave me a better all-around performance from tee to green.
After some research, I found that these were urethane covers, and my preference came at a premium price. While firm ionomer covers are fantastic for the distance, they are less durable and lead to reduced control around the green.
What Are Urethane Golf Ball Covers
Golf Monthly’s Sam Tremlett explains that urethane is a polymer renowned for its durability when exposed to high heat.
The material’s durability enables enhanced flexibility, which is why balls with these covers can deliver low spin off the tee, and shot-stopping power on the green.
Urethane golf ball covers provide a soft feel and are typically found on premium golf balls such as a Titleist Pro V1 or TaylorMade TP5.
What Are The Benefits Of Urethane Covers?
One of the reasons superior golfers prefer to use urethane-covered balls is due to their soft feel.
The durability of the urethane material increases the amount of spring at impact to accelerate ball speed and deliver more carry and distance.
Urethane golf balls such as the TaylorMade TP5 feature optimal aerodynamics.
It promotes maximum carry and a steep descent angle. This equips your ball with additional shot-stopping power.
Accelerated Ball Speed
The firm inner core of a urethane golf ball combines with the softer cover to promote faster ball speeds.
The core stores and releases energy prompting the ball to spring off the clubface.
Urethane cover balls are easier to shape your shots with.
Especially compared to ionomer balls that promote a straighter, stable ball flight.
What Are The Cons?
The biggest downside of Urethane cover golf balls is their price tag.
While it does vary, you can prepare yourself to spend around $50 for a dozen urethane balls, which is more than double the cost of a box of ionomers.
While urethane is a durable material, it is susceptible to scuffs and cuts if it contains a hard inner core.
Who Should Use Urethane Balls?
In terms of value for money, only lower handicappers or professionals should play with ionomer balls.
At $50 a box, it does not make sense for us average golfers who frequently lose balls to be forking out that kind of money.
What Are The Other Options For Ball Covers Overview?
Besides urethane covers, there are two other options. The most common alternative is ionomer covers, while Surlyn is gaining in popularity.
Surlyn is constructed with ionomer resin and enables manufacturers to deliver a cover that is soft like urethane.
What Are Ionomer Golf Ball Covers
An ionomer is a polymer material that manufacturers use to craft an affordable distance-focused golf ball.
According to Tremlett, the ionomer material is cheaper to construct and is firmer than a urethane ball.
Tremlett further states that the harder cover aids in reducing unwanted side spin to promote a straighter ball flight.
What Are The Benefits Of Ionomer Covers?
In his article, Tremlett points out that the harder cover ionomer balls spin less and promote straighter, longer shots for optimal distance.
Limited Side Spin
Added to the reduced backspin generated by ionomer balls is the limited sidespin to prevent slices and hooks.
This setup suits golfers looking for a ball that helps them achieve straighter shots.
Straighter Ball Flight
The harder construction of ionomer balls reduces side spin and optimizes their stability in flight.
This leads to a straighter ball flight, longer carry, and more distance for the average player who struggles to keep the ball in play.
One of the main advantages of ionomer-covered balls is their affordable price tag which is attractive to us average golfers.
On the whole, you can purchase two boxes of a dozen ionomer balls for the same price as one urethane box.
What Are The Cons?
The downside of ionomer balls is that they deliver limited spin or shot-stopping power around the greens. This leads to reduced control around the greens.
I have found that ionomer balls are not as durable as urethane covers and tend to scuff quicker. If you hit a few shots into the bunker, you can expect these balls to come out slightly disfigured.
Who Should Use Ionomer Balls?
Ionomer balls are best suited to mid and high handicappers, along with seniors looking for added distance.
Its affordable price tag means you won’t break the bank if you lose a few balls every round.
Furthermore, the lower spin off the tee helps you generate more distance, which will be welcomed by the seniors among us.
What Are Surlyn Golf Ball Covers?
Surlyn is a polymer material created by DuPont.
According to Dean Snell from Snell Golf, this material is more durable than ionomer itself and less susceptible to cuts and scuffs.
Surlyn also enables manufacturers to produce a ball that gives you the performance features of urethane for a lower price.
What Are The Benefits
Based on Dean Snell’s findings, we see that Surlyn balls are durable and do not scuff or cut as easily as alternative products.
The combination of a Speed Core and a soft Surlyn cover help to lower the backspin on longer shots and increase ball speed to promote maximum distance.
Another attractive feature of Surlyn balls is their affordable price tag. On the lower end, these balls are in the same bracket as ionomer covers.
On the higher end, they are still more affordable than urethane balls.
Like ionomer covers, Surlyn aims to reduce backspin on your longer shots, to deliver longer carry and distance.
Plus, it limits the sidespin on these shots to promote straighter ball flight.
The thin Surlyn cover design helps players generate optimal spin on wedge shots for better greenside control.
That is where we see Surlyn’s supremacy over the traditional ionomer construction.
What Are The Cons
Shot Stopping Power
Although Surlyn covers produce a high spin rate on wedge shots, they lack the shot-stopping power of urethane on mid to long approach shots.
This makes it difficult for us average golfers to hold the green.
The reduced level of sidespin generated by Surlyn balls means that it is slightly more challenging to shape your shots.
Lower handicappers may prefer sticking to urethane as a result.
Who Should Use Surlyn Balls?
Surlyn balls are an excellent option for mid handicappers.
The affordable price means losing a few won’t break the bank, and it delivers all-around performance from tee to green.
What Is The Best Cover Overall?
The best cover overall is Urethane.
The reason is that it generates a low enough level of spin off the tee for maximum distance and enhanced shot stopping power to hold greens on approach.
Urethane golf balls further help you generate optimal spin around the greens and provide crisp feedback at impact.
While it is definitely the best cover overall, I only recommend superior golfers to play with urethane covers. The price tag is not worth it for mid to higher handicappers who need to buy a new box of balls frequently.
Best Urethane Golf Balls
The TP5X comprises a 5-layer construction, unique for a tour ball. It alleviates the need to choose between distance and spin by giving you superior performance from tee to green.
TaylorMade implemented a tour flight dimple pattern to optimize the aerodynamics of the ball. The 322-dimple pattern promotes increased distance and delivers a steeper descent angle for maximum stopping power on the green.
The combination of stiff inner layers and a soft urethane cover are designed to deliver optimal distance on long shots without sacrificing the spin and shot-stopping ability around the green.
The soft urethane cover of the TP5x enables your club’s grooves to grip the ball and generate optimal spin on wedge and short iron shots.
Overall, this is an all-around ball, and it has a premium price to match its features. While I would love to suggest that everyone plays this ball, the price is not practical for the average player who loses multiple balls every round.
These balls are best suited to superior golfers looking for optimal performance from tee to green. However, if you are an average golfer but have deep pockets, you should consider testing them.
Pros and Cons
- Delivers increased distance
- Generates optimal shot stopping power
- Promotes accelerated ball speed
- Very little difference to the older model
Overall Score: 96/100
Check Out More Reviews Here:
Best Ionomer Golf Balls
Srixon Soft Feel
Srixon’s soft feel golf balls contain their softest FastLayer core designed to offer enhanced snap for accelerated ball speed off the tee. If you are looking for a distance ball, the Soft Feel is worth considering.
During testing, the ball was matched up against a Titleist’s TruSoft, and SuperSoft, and a Bridgestone e12. The Soft Feel traveled .4 yards further on average than the TruSoft’s. And a yard longer than the SuperSoft and e12.
Srixon employed a 338-speed dimple pattern to optimize the aerodynamics of the Soft Feel to increase distance and straight flight, even in windy conditions.
The Soft Feel is an option if you are looking for an affordable distance ball that holds well in the wind. If you are after the optimal greenside spin, you won’t find it with this ball. But, it is an excellent ball for its price, which is why it is our best ionomer golf ball.
Pros and Cons
- Promotes increased distance
- Holds in the wind
- Generates optimal ball speed
- Lower spin
- Delivers minimal spin around the green
- Average durability
Overall Score: 93/100
Check Out More Reviews Here:
Best Surlyn Golf Balls
Vice Tour Golf Balls
All Surlyn golf balls are ionomers, but not all ionomers are Surlyn. The material was created from ionomer resin by multinational giant DuPont and has helped manufactures provide a soft outer layer for a more affordable price than urethane.
Vice’s 3-piece Tour golf balls comprise a Maximized Energy Speed Core, a flexible Surlyn mantle, and a Surlyn cover.
The Maximized Energy Speed Core enhances the ball’s durability, accelerates ball speed, and reduces driver spin. This combination increases your carry and leads to a longer total distance.
Vice also fitted the ball with a Surlyn mantle, which further lowers driver spin and optimizes the stability of the ball in flight.
Finally, the Vice Tour Golf Balls Surlyn cover is resistant to cuts. And the 312 dimple pattern limits air resistance and ensures stability during flight.
Pros and Cons
- Provides increased ball speed
- Promotes longer distance
- Ideal for distance
- Maintains stability during ball flight
- More durable than the average ionomer cover
- Lower levels of greenside spin
- It is only available in white which is not suited to players with visual impairments.
Overall Score: 94/100
Check Out More Reviews Here:
Conclusion Of Urethane vs Non-Urethane Golf Balls
After reviewing the three predominant golf ball covers, which one do you think is best suited to your game?
Golf balls with ionomer covers are the most affordable and built purely for distance. While Surlyn and urethane covers deliver an all-round performance from tee to green, the latter is the most expensive option.
In conclusion, our review of urethane vs non-urethane golf balls showed that the former is the best overall cover. It delivers a combination of distance, spin, and shot-stopping power to excel from tee to green.
If you are looking to take the step up to urethane balls. You can find out more about the TP5x.