Doc Wordinger lives and works in central Manchester. He has a fondness for golf, poker, fine literature, art, and film.
Training Aids to Improve Your Game
Unless you are lucky enough to own a lot of land or live right next to a golf course, buying a few practice golf balls is a must to improve your game.
Pros of Practice Balls
- Designed for players with limited time and space.
- They weigh much less than real balls, traveling less distance when hit (although a good quality ball will still mimic the shape of your shot).
- And you don't need to worry about smashing windows or hitting bystanders. In fact, some balls are light enough to use indoors.
This is great news for anyone who wants to continue working on their game during the cold winter months.
Driving ranges ain't cheap, and although they are a great place to refine your game, they will burn a hole in your wallet if used regularly. Practice balls are a cheaper option. They also provide more flexibility. Perhaps you don't finish work 'til after midnight? That might be too late to go to the driving range, but there's no reason why you can't hit a few shots in your garage or backyard.
Here are the best practice golf balls on the market and information about how they can enhance your game.
1. Almost Golf Point Ball
The Almost Golf Ball is exactly what it says—a practice ball that is almost the real thing.
Made of a solid core with dimples on the outer shell, the Almost Golf Ball compresses on impact and takes off with the same spin and velocity as a real ball. However, it is much lighter and softer, meaning that it slows down quicker and only travels about 30 to 50 percent of the distance of a proper golf ball. These features make it an ideal practice ball for all kinds of shots.
- Since it was innovated to replicate the spin and feel of a real ball, you can shape your shots, imparting draw and fade spin. This is also ideal for beginners because it highlights a poor swing path and open/closed club-face.
- Perhaps its real strength is that you can use it just about anywhere. Urban golf enthusiasts are playing with it in city and neighborhood courses, on roads, and front lawns. You simply can't cause any damage with a foam/rubber ball that weighs only 14 grams. And if you're thinking about buying an indoor golf simulator but don't want to use real balls, the Almost Ball would be the perfect solution.
This is undoubtedly one of the best practice golf balls on the market. But before rushing to purchase some, make sure you have somewhere reasonably spacious to play (or a large net or object to hit against). Remember: it will still travel over 100 yards when thumped with the driver. A pitching wedge shot will travel around 50 yards.
Check out the video. The guy in the yellow t-shirt is Dave Pelz, one of golf's most respected instructors. He endorses the Almost Ball.
2. Foam Practice Balls
These rainbow-colored foam balls have been around for several years now and are a popular and effective practice tool. At less than $7 for a pack of six, they also happen to be among the cheaper products. Despite their low price, these balls are durable and will last for a long time.
- Foam balls are ideal for indoor practice, but they can also be used outside in your backyard. You won't need a whole lot of room.
- They fly quickly off the club face and can travel over 40 yards with longer clubs. Their lightweight structure means you can hit them against the back of your house without fear of breaking a window.
- They do tend to fly on a fairly high trajectory, so if you do plan on using them in a small yard, make sure your house or wall is high enough to catch them.
- Unlike other products such as The Birdie Ball (see below), they don't replicate the feel of a real golf ball against your club face. With this in mind, foam balls are probably better suited for practicing swing rhythm or ingraining changes rather than for shot-making precision.
Given the low price for a pack of six on Amazon, you really can't go wrong with this purchase. They might not be suited for practicing all aspects of your game, but you're sure to find a type of shot—chipping, pitching, mid irons—where you'll get your money's worth.
3. The Birdie Ball
The Birdie Ball is one of the newest golf products around and many people in the industry are raving about it. At a recent PGA Merchandise Show, golf professionals voted it "Best New Product." Clearly, this is a practice golf ball to be taken seriously.
Made of polymer, shaped like a bangle bracelet, and slightly larger than a real golf ball, the Birdie Ball is certainly not a conventional practice ball. On first inspection, you could easily be forgiven for wondering how this weird-looking device could possibly help you improve your swing.
- Perhaps the Birdie Ball's greatest strength is that it feels and reacts like a real ball. If you attempt to hit a draw, it will curve from right to left.
- If you suffer from a slice, it will go right (assuming you are right-handed). The only difference being that the Birdie Ball will fly no further than 50 yards, making it the perfect aid for practicing your long game in your backyard or local park.
- The manufacturer claims that the ball is very durable, and while this might be true to a certain extent, consumer feedback reports that the ball is susceptible to cracking after prolonged use. Still, this shouldn't be enough to deter you. With a 12-pack of balls costing around $25 on Amazon, there is room for plenty of practice before the balls would need to be replaced.
Whether you're a total beginner or a low handicapper, if you want the best possible practice golf ball for working on your long game, the Birdie Ball is an absolute must.
And one last thing: Did you ever dream of having your own golf course in your backyard but were thwarted by limited space? Well, take a look at the video. It shows how a guy has built a nine-hole golf course in his backyard which he plays using Birdie Balls for the long shots and real balls around the greens. Perhaps you could do it, too!
4. The Floppy Indoor Practice Ball
The Floppy is a practice golf ball designed specifically for the short game. If you want a ball to practice chip and pitch shots, especially indoors, then this is the one for you.
- Designed to react, spin, and roll like a genuine golf ball, the Floppy is another new and innovative addition to the training aid market. Although it will mimic an actual golf ball when you strike it, the Floppy is so soft that you can completely compress it between your thumb and forefinger. With this degree of flexibility and softness, you can hit the ball against a window, and it will simply bounce back down to the floor.
- This ball is a great indoor training aid for honing the most important part of your game—the short game. Play it from a regular carpet and improve your chip shots, flop shots, bump-and-runs, and 80-yard pitch shots. If you live in a part of the world where the weather turns nasty in winter and golf becomes unplayable, the Floppy will allow you to continue your short game practice routine indoors.
- There is no reason why the Floppy can't be used in your backyard, too. But don't be tempted to start swinging at the ball with the bigger clubs. This is a practice ball that was designed with the pitching wedge in mind. Anything bigger and it will quickly lose its shape.
For an ideal indoor golf set-up, consider purchasing a sleeve of Floppy balls for your short game and some foam balls for the longer game.
Have You Used Any of These Training Aids?
Did they meet or exceed your expectations, or did you regret your purchase? Did they help get your handicap down? Are you now striking the ball like a pro or still wrestling with a slice?
Please feel free to leave your thoughts or opinions in the comments section below.
© 2012 Doc Wordinger
Duane Peterson on January 26, 2020:
Playing the new Hybrid Mid-distance golf/practice ball developed for full par & play on shorter golf facilities, gives golfer's a new perspective on quick-play & enjoyment.
Katy Jorgensen on June 21, 2019:
I am wondering what you think of the Sci-Core practice balls? I have heard good things but haven't tried. Would love your take!
Maddie Aliprandi from Wollongong on September 23, 2015:
Awesome article! After moving from the country its hard to find a place to practice as most parks ban hitting golf ball!
A great alternative! Thx!
Doc Wordinger (author) from Manchester, UK on May 09, 2014:
No problem Brent, I'm glad I could help.
Brent on May 07, 2014:
Thanks for taking the time to post this, as I was heading out tomorrow to try to see if I could find some polystyrene balls or something to practice in the backyard to simulate the feel of lining up against a real ball. And now I know they exist. =)
Doc Wordinger (author) from Manchester, UK on May 19, 2013:
Thanks for your comment lightitupgolf2. I just checked out your website and the concept looks fun!
Doc Wordinger (author) from Manchester, UK on May 19, 2013:
I'm happy that you found it helpful bbgolfer. Thanks for reading.
bbgolfer on April 21, 2013:
Thanks for the informative tips