Under current regulations, men are allowed to use any women’s ball that conforms to the USGA standards. The most up to date list of conforming balls can be found here: USGA Conforming Ball List
The rules and specifications regarding the golf ball are divided into the following six categories:
- General: The ball must not be substantially different from the traditional and customary form and make.
- Weight: The weight of the ball must be <1.620 ounces (45.93 g).
- Size: The diameter of the ball must be > 1.680 inches (42.67 mm).
- Spherical Symmetry: The ball must be a spherically symmetrical ball.
- Initial Velocity: Must not exceed The R&A and USGA testing standards.
- Overall Distance: Must not exceed The R&A and USGA testing standards for the combined carry and roll of the ball.
The more important question you should be asking yourself when considering women’s vs men’s golf ball is not are you ALLOWED to use, but rather be evaluating whether or not a women’s-style ball suits your playing style and needs. Many golfers incorrectly assume that using a women’s ball gives some sort of unfair advantage to their game; however, to understand that this is not the case it is very important to learn why certain balls are marketed to men vs women.
The two most important differences between men’s and women’s balls are
1. COMPRESSION RATING and 2. DIMPLE STRUCTURE:
This is by far the more important difference between men’s and women’s balls. Golf ball compression is exactly what it sounds like. This is the act of the club “smushing” the ball when it makes contact during your swing. When this happens, the ball compresses and then quickly decompresses, causing a spring-like effect that sends the ball sailing much farther and faster than just the velocity of the clubhead.
A harder ball will allow for more “spring” during decompression; however, it also take much more force to achieve the right amount of compression. That means that balls with a higher compression rating (80 – 110) are meant for the faster swing speeds required to activate the compression in these harder balls.
Alternatively, a softer golf ball will require the less force to achieve the compression and spring-action. For those with a slower swing speed the recommendation is to use balls at the lower end of the compression rating scale (below 80).
Both men and women with lower swing speeds will benefit from a “softer” ball. Women’s swing speeds are, on average, slower than men’s so the balls targeted to women claim compression ratings that are generally in the 50-70 range. These lower compression ratings work wonders for slower swing speeds, ensuring that female golfers are getting the most distance possible from a slower swing speed.[NOTE: many high-level female golfers have very fast swing speeds and most LPGA players are playing the same balls as their PGA counterparts.]
Please understand that compression ratings have a wide range with various balls falling all over the spectrum. This means that golfers of all swing speeds should be able to find a ball suitable to their own individual games.
Believe it or not, golf ball dimples are a very important difference between men’s and women’s balls.
Most of us take dimples for granted, but there is actually quite a bit of complex engineering that goes into the dimple design and layout. Many of the best golf balls today incorporate dimple designs that are made specifically to increase lift and get the trajectory that every golfer loves to see.
Balls made specifically for women and other low-swing-speed players incorporate dimple designs that focus on keeping the ball up longer, resulting in more carry. These golf balls also have dimples with lower depth on average which reduces back spin substantially – meaning more roll out on straighter drives or fades. This can make hitting approach shots more challenging as well as making putting even more difficult than normal already is. Women’s golf falls typically fly shorter distances too so this must be considered when evaluating against the balls allowing for higher launching shots that are better around the greens.
CONCLUSION: Should you use a women’s ball?
Ultimately you need to evaluate how the ball suits your game. Most men would be best served to find a “softer” ball with a compression rating that suits their swing speed rather than jumping straight to a women’s ball. . . . Unless the reason for going to a women’s ball was to get the brightly colored options (especially pink) and if that is the case then there aren’t many other choices than to shop the balls branded as “WOMEN’S”.