The 5 best golf balls of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
  • It's more important to understand your clubhead speed and course tendencies than to buy an expensive golf ball.
  • Be patient, too - You'll need to test balls on your own to truly know which kinda suits you best.
  • Our top pick, the Titleist AVX, is a premium golf ball that's durable and works well for those with slower swings.

Between sporting goods stores, online outlets, and your local pro shop, picking out the right golf ball can seem like picking the best circle in a sea of identical circles. While all golf balls may more or less look alike, they won't all play the same way.

Although there's plenty of technical details that go into golf ball manufacturing, I'm here to help with the selection process and narrow down your choices. This decision largely depends on two things: How well you know your game and what you want the golf ball to do for you.

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. If you're a beginner golfer looking for ammo, buy the cheapest balls you can. There are loads of options in stores and online that are great for this.

If you consider yourself an average to an above-average golfer, this guide is likely more your speed. And although this list isn't exhaustive, it's based on my own personal playing preferences and research; I'm a regular golfer who's written about the game and its equipment for the last five years, and I've spent plenty of time playing with, testing, and analyzing almost every golf ball on the market.

To find your best ball, work from the green backward. You want a ball that's optimized to your wedges and irons first since you'll use those clubs most. After that, calibrate the rest of your game to fit the ball that works best for your approaches and around the greens.

Below are five of the best golf balls that work well for a variety of play styles, including my favorite overall, the Titleist AVX. I've also included some insight into how I tested each of the featured golf balls, as well as answers to a few FAQs.

Here are the best golf balls 0f 2021

How I test golf balls

The traditional advice for picking a ball is to hit them close to the green and work backward to find the one you like best and that performs well for you. Most everyone plays an adjustable driver these days and you can adjust the driver to the ball that serves other parts of your game best. 

I've played golf for 20 years and have written about equipment for five. I've been as low as a 12 handicap with a better-than-average short game and I value balls that respond to chips and wedge shots. 

The balls showcased here are designed to suit a majority of players who swing less than 100 mph with their driver and have a tendency to visit a lot more of the course than better golfers. 

To test the golf balls featured, I first looked at premium tour balls with high compression cores with multiple layers around them and urethane covers. These types of balls are the best performing balls even for mid-handicappers. Because my short game is one of the areas I feel most confident, I play a premium ball that I can spin near the greens. Urethane is grabby and responds well to shorter clubs, and I do find that when I catch one with the driver, it flies farther than a mid-tier ball. 

I then took each of these balls out to my local course and worked with them on the chipping green, as well as in actual rounds of play. If any of these balls showed up in my bag on the days I played, I was happy to give them a go. 

While testing, I looked for which balls I was able to stop close to the hole. All the balls listed here do that well with both the Snell and Wilson models being particular standouts for my game. Off the tee, I liked the AVX's performance best, followed by the Bridgestone. 

A small thing about balls and your equipment is that sound plays a huge role in how we like or respond to a piece of equipment. I've always felt the Bridgestone balls don't sound as solid off the club as I'd like. The performance of them is fine enough but something about the sound always throws me off a little, which is why I've leaned toward Titleist a lot over the years with Bridgestones often being a backup. 

When I'm playing a little worse, I find cheaper balls to play that still perform really well: Snell and now Mizuno.

The best golf ball overall
A putter on the green hitting a neon Titleist AVX golf ball into the hole

The Titleist AVX is a premium ball that works for slower swingers and is incredibly durable.

Pros: Soft feel, low spin off the driver for longer distance, good durability. 

Cons: At $50 per dozen, these are pricier than other premium balls, and better players may not benefit from them as much. 

The ProV1 lines get a lot of love from the tour pros and everyday players alike, but the AVX is built for the amateur golfer who likely has a slower swing speed. The ball feels soft around the greens and really pops off the driver. 

It's a premium golf ball that suits an everyday player and has recently replaced the ProV1s in my bag, which requires much faster swing speeds than I'm able to generate. 

For a slower swinger, you need a ball that responds to shorter shots and allows you to hone in your chipping and pitching yardages. The AVX allows for that while giving me a few more yards off the tee because of its lower spin rates and ball flight. I'm not afraid of using the yellow ones, either. 

The best budget golf ball
A single Snell Golf MTB-X golf ball in front of its box

Snell Golf's MTB-X offers a high level of performance that you don't find elsewhere at this price point.

Pros: Long off the tee, responsive off your irons and wedges

Cons: Frustrating shipping delays and Snell only allows customers to buy them two dozen at a time. 

Dean Snell set out on his own after a trailblazing career that saw him develop not one but two premium golf balls: Titleist's ProV1 and TaylorMade's TP Series golf ball. Few golf ball engineers know more about the physics and manufacturing of a golf ball than Snell, and his DTC company has formed a cult-like following since he founded it. 

Snell's MTB and MTB-X regularly appear on the top lists of the major industry raters, and it's easy to see why after playing with them. There's virtually nothing Snell's MTB-X does from a performance standpoint that the industry-leading ProV1 does markedly better. It's long off the tee and incredibly responsive with both wedges and irons. 

Snell Golf makes it easy to see if this ball is best for you, too, as each box of a dozen costs just $34 (though there is a limit of two dozen per customer at a time). I play these balls as often as I play anything else these days.

The best tour golf ball
A pair of Bridgestone Golf Tour B RXS balls on the putting green

The Bridgestone Tour B RXS maximizes driver distance with a new cover designed to help spin (and stop) wedge shots.

Pros: Built for swings less than 105 MPH, sticks to the green on approaches, slow swingers can still compress this ball

Cons: Driver distance may lag compared to other balls in its segment

Bridgestone made plenty of noise with casual golfers when it signed Tiger Woods but the move made sense: The brand had been making his Nike balls for years. 

Bridgestone was among the first manufacturers to provide a road map for swing speeds to correlate to the balls that you should play and even offered ball fittings at golf expos around the country. Its Tour B series has a ball for golfers of all levels and the line routinely ranks near the top in ball speed, meaning your ability as a regular player to compress it like your faster swinging friend increases. 

Better players may want to use the company's calibration to determine the best ball for them, but from its e Series value balls to the premium category, Bridgestone is a brand you should try if you haven't. And, go ahead, too. Get the Tiger Edition balls with TIGER stamped on the side. We can all dream. 

The best new golf ball
The Mizuno RB Tour X golf ball sitting on top of its box

Mizuno's recently released RB Tour and Tour X ball is an impressive new tour ball that costs under $40 and delivers some serious driving distance.

Pros: Solid distance off the tee, good feel off the irons

Cons: Wedge shots not as responsive as others in this category

I'm a golf geek, so I like trying out new equipment. But that doesn't mean I'm not skeptical of it either. Although I play Mizuno irons, I was unsure how well its new tour balls would play but when these arrived, I was pleasantly surprised.

Like most golfers, I don't like losing expensive golf balls. When my game is out of whack, I switch gears to cheaper balls to save the headache. I decided to put these Mizunos in play because they had solid rankings and I particularly liked how they felt off the tee, holding their own against my regular balls. 

I found them to be very pleasing with my mid-irons but a little less responsive on shots around the green, particularly those out of the bunker where they kept rolling past the pin despite a well-executed shot. But at $35 per dozen, these are a solid alternative if you've run out of Snells and like to tinker and play different balls.

Mizuno RB Tour X

RB Tour X (button)

Mizuno RB Tour

The best golf ball for control
Wilson Staff Model R box of golf balls on a white background

The Wilson Staff Model R grips like a spider around the greens, giving you a bit more grab on short shots on the green.

Pros: Great around the greens, matte finish gives a different look, good, all-around performance

Cons: The matte finish might throw you off and the ball can look dirty. 

The matte finish on the Wilson Staff Model R seemed like a marketing ploy when I first got these, and the company even claimed that inconsistencies in the paint might cause distortion in playing. I was dubious but I came to like the softened matte finish and I felt as though the ball was much more grabby around the greens on wedge shots and approaches while also playing well off the driver. 

The different look of the ball was appealing to me because while I do like playing a yellow ball, I reserve that for the fall when the leaves are on the ground. I felt like I was able to spot this ball better and it just felt different when I picked it up. Certainly not as slick as your usual ball and that did seem to contribute to its greenside performance. 

It's hard to find a foothold in the landscape of premium golf balls but I think the Model R is definitely worth a try if you find you're having a lot of chips each round.


Why didn't you cover the ProV1? 

Everyone that plays golf already knows about this ball. The ProV1 revolutionized golf balls and golf and changed the game in nearly every way. When I was playing my best, I loved the ProV1x. It might have just been psychological but I hit that ball really far and it was great around the greens. The only ball that was as consistent as that for me was the pick from Snell Golf.

What do three-piece, four-piece, and five-piece mean when I'm shopping? 

This is both complicated and not complicated at the same time. This refers to the number of layers a ball has that cover its inner core. You can go deep into this stuff and the layers aren't really marketing fluff. 

In short, the layers and their composition affect the performance of a golf ball. Some golf-centric sites do breakdowns and cutaways of golf balls to show you different layers, though that gets a bit too technical for this guide.

Shouldn't I play what tour pros play?

Not exactly. Just as your car is not tuned to NASCAR conditions, neither should your golf equipment be. Tour Pros get a special level of service and have highly honed swings. Don't just pick up what they're playing or what is advertised during their telecasts. 

If you're serious about golf, find a ball that has the properties you need. I need to be longer off the tee, so I play a ball that gives me maximum distance but that doesn't neglect that I'll miss a lot of greens and need to get up and down. There are a lot of choices and the most expensive one isn't often the best.

I'm new to golf and lost. What should I play?

New golfers should always strongly consider playing a cheaper ball since you'll likely lose quite a bit during the learning process. As you get better, you will want a better ball because it does actually perform better as you hit the center of the clubface more often, but extreme amateurs should stick to budget picks when possible.

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