What Does The Number On Golf Balls Mean? [Which Is Best?]

Have you ever wondered what do numbers mean on golf balls? Well, there’s actually a very straightforward and boring reason behind it.

With golf balls ranging in what number they have on them, you might have seen one with a 3, maybe you found one with a 78 on, possibly one with 500, or just about anything in between.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the reasons behind a number on a golf ball and help determine why it is that brands print a number on all their golf balls and what do the numbers mean on golf balls.

Let’s get into it and find out a little more about what do numbers on golf balls mean.

what does the number on a golf ball mean

What Does The Number On Golf Balls Mean?

Why Do Golf Balls Have Numbers On Them?

Golf ball manufacturers have been printing numbers on their balls for a very long time. However, these days, it’s only really done for one reason – to help players identify their balls while playing.

There is no rule in golf about balls and what do the numbers mean on a golf ball? However, they provide a useful way of identification for golfers on the course. With lots of golfers out on a course at once, and potentially four players in a group, determining which ball is yours can sometimes be a little confusing. Having a number on the ball (usually next to the brand name), golfers will be able to distinguish between their ball and other balls out there.

Now, if you haven’t played golf before, this might seem a little unnecessary. Surely golfers don’t all hit it in the same place, so you’ll know which ball is yours just by walking to it? If only golf was that simple.

Say there’s four golfers in a group playing the same hole for example. They’re all using one of the most popular brands of ball, a Titleist. Two of the players hit their balls right into the rough, relatively near to the other one. Both players know relatively where their ball has gone, but the rough is thick, and not easy to see exactly where it finished up. Because one player is using a Titleist 1 and the obvious is playing with a Titleist 3, they’ll be able to walk up to it and know whose is whose by seeing the number marking on it.

It really is as simple as that, the single-digit number on a golf ball helps a player identify their golf ball more easily.

Of course, there may also be some elements that affect which number ball a player uses. Perhaps they might have a lucky number which they always try to use when playing. Or perhaps they like to use a different number ball every time they play. Whatever it is, the number on the ball doesn’t really have any effect on the type of ball or how it performs, or certainly not in the modern game. Plus there’s no ruling in golf that limits which number a player can have on their ball, so it’s really down to personal preference.

There are a few exclusions to this rule, however. You’ll sometimes see a ball with two-digits and three-digits on.

Two-Digit Golf Ball Numbers

If you ever see a golf ball with a double-digit number on it, it’s more than likely quite an old ball, and the number will be representing the ball’s compression rating.

This basically means how much a ball can be compressed when hit with a golf club. A ball with a high rating is more suited for a player with a fast swing speed and visa versa. This ball compression rating will have a great impact on how far the golf ball will fly in the air when hit and so makes quite an impact depending on the level of the golfer.

As mentioned, this is only really found on old balls as brands don’t tend to include this rating on their balls anymore and are more likely to stick with the standard single-digit number.

Of course, you may still see a modern ball with numbers over 9. Some manufacturers may bring out a special edition ball with higher numbers on them such as special year or event. Most professionals will also have the freedom to choose the number that they have on their balls. Justin Rose, for example, likes to have the number 99 on his golf balls.

Three-Digit Golf Ball Numbers

Usually, if you find a golf ball with a three-digit number on it, it will be between 300 and 500 as this signifies the number of dimples on that ball.

Dimples are a very important element on a golf ball and can have significant impacts on how well the ball flies through the air and its aerodynamics. However, with modern technology so good, it’s not really necessary anymore for manufacturers to put this number on their balls and although the number is interesting the know, it’s not that important.

Once again, if you do see a more modern ball with a three-digit number on, this will most likely be a special edition ball or a custom number. For the 150th edition of The Open championship, Titleist brought out a ball with the number 150 on it.

Many companies will also offer the custom number option to regular customers and not just professionals. You’ll pay a little bit more, but you’ll get to choose a special number on your balls. Most of the time this will be from 00 to 99, but there will be some which offer three-digit numbers.

Why Are Golf Ball Numbers Different Colours?

On most occasions, a golf ball will either have a black or red number on it. This is usually a factor in determining the compression of the ball.

The Titleist Pro V1 for example will have a black number compared to the Pro V1x which has a red number. The Pro V1 is regarded as the softer golf ball of the two and will produce more spin, whereas the Pro V1x is slightly firmer and with less spin.

Although coloured numbers are becoming less common, they do still exist and are a way of distinguishing between a firmer or a softer golf ball.

Final Thoughts

That rounds off our article on what does the number on golf balls mean. With so many different numbered golf balls out there, it would be easy to think that the number has an impact on how the ball plays. However, in the modern game, the number on a golf ball has very little impact on how the ball performs and is more down to a players personal preference.

If they fancy a lucky number 3, they can get a ball with 3 on it, but it will perform the same as the ball with a 4 on it. Or a 5, or a 2, or a 35, and so on. It really won’t affect how well you hit it or how far it will go. That will be down to the type of ball that you choose, whether it be soft or firm.

Either way, the most important aspect for most amateur players is your swing. So before you start worrying too much about your ball, make sure to get that swing in shape first.

Golf Ball Numbers FAQ’s

What Do The Numbers 1 2 3 4 Mean On Golf Balls?

The numbers on a golf ball are usually there for identification purposes. Most modern balls will only have a single-digit number and it helps golfers identify which ball is there whilst out playing golf. The numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are the most common numbers to find on a golf ball.

What’s The Difference In Numbers On Golf Balls?

The numbers are different on golf balls for no real reason other than to help golfers determine which is their ball whilst playing. Older balls may have a double or triple-digit number on them, these signify the ball compression rating or the number of dimples respectively.

Ed Welton

Founder, Editor

Ed is the founder and editor at EEE Golf. He’s been playing golf for over 20 years, competing in many top amateur events. He’s played courses all over the world and played with some of the best players in the game. His aim is to help educate people about the game of golf and give insights into the sport he loves most.

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