The Difference between 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-Piece Golf Balls

3-piece golf ball on grass

Does the Type of Golf Ball Make a Difference?

Aren’t golf balls all the same? This is what I heard come out of my friends’ mouth. After educating my friend on the differences between golf balls, it’s now time that I help you too!

Many beginners need to realize that investing and selecting good quality golf balls is very important to play your best game of golf.

Golfers who are looking to buy clubs, drivers and bags are usually given a lot of consideration, and rightly so. Unfortunately when going “golf shopping”, golfers tend to neglect golf balls which I believe is a big mistake.

Is there a measurable difference between each type of golf ball?

Yes the type of Golf ball does make a significant difference to the quality of your game. Investing in a high quality ball 3-piece golf ball can help a golfer generate more spin, accuracy and distance.


Urethane Vs Ionomer Balls

The best golf balls are made with a polymer cover called urethane. Urethane helps the grooves on your club grip the golf ball more effectively.

As Urethanes durability performs well under intense heat, this material is the preferred choice for high quality golf ball design. The 336 dimples found on the average golf ball are designed from a thin Urethane layer.

On the other hand, cheaper golf balls ones are usually made with a material called ionomer. Ionomer golf balls are not necessarily bad, but they do have a softer feel and are less durable than Urethane balls.

If you’re a beginner who is struggling with too much spin, Ionomer made balls may actually be an advantage. Balls that have an Ionomer cover will produce less side spin and therefore help a beginner hit longer distances.

So what does a 2 or 3 piece golf ball mean? The number of pieces refers to the amount of layers surrounding the core material of the ball. These layers can add speed and grip to your game.

This is why it’s crucial to understand which type of ball design you need. You should spend a few hours practicing with each type of ball before buying too many of them.


Difference Between Layers of a Golf Ball

Golf balls have an inner core material surrounded by other layers. The number of layers in a ball can affect overall durability and ball trajectory. You’ll often find amateur players using 1 or 2 piece balls, where professional players are instead using 3 and 4 piece golf balls.

Generally there are 4 categories of layered balls to choose from. By reading this article I’ll help you determine which type is best for you.

Each type of ball has a distinct usage and performance factor associated with it. These are explained in detail below.


1-Piece Golf Balls

One piece golf balls do not have a core or a cover. Instead, they’re made from a single solid material called Surlyn. As this is the cheapest golf ball to produce, they’re usually found on mini golf courses and driving ranges.

It’s rare to find this type of ball on a real golf course as there are many better alternatives available.

Durability isn’t the issue here, as balls made from Surlyn are completely solid. The problem is due to their low compression which makes hitting long distances challenging.


2-Piece Golf Balls

Two-Piece balls have a core and a cover which is typically made from urethane or plastic. These balls are most popular with the average golfer.

You’ll notice a much firmer feel while playing with these balls. This firmer construction will allow you to hit the ball further by at least 20 yards. You’ll lose some control over your shots when using a harder ball, but for the average golfer a two piece is the best option.

These balls are excellent when trying to hit long distances, and will aid the ball in gaining velocity quickly. If you’re someone who swings slowly, then a two-piece ball might be the best option for you.


3-Piece Golf Balls

3-Piece balls have a core, mantle and outer layer. These balls offer great performance and control to its users. There soft feel offers some degree of forgiveness and improved control to the user.

Three piece balls are the entry level ball which creates more spin for the golfer.  The added layer will allow for noticeable spin separation.

I would say this ball is only necessary after you have been playing golf for at least 12 months. If you are a beginner I would stick with the 2 piece.


4-Piece Golf Balls

4-Piece balls have a dual-core design and are generally used by professional players. They can produce a low initial speed and are known for their precision. It is a great option for high-speed swingers and players who have been at the game for a long time.

The construction of four piece ball is impressive. The 4 layers all work together to produce the softest golf ball that travels the longest distance possible.

When you look inside a 4-piece ball, you’ll find an extra layer that is not normally found on a golf ball.  This added later is known as the middle cover, and it helps create added distance when you are driving from the tee.

This ball is finished off with an outer Urethane layer which gives the ball its extra soft feel.


2-piece Vs 3-piece Golf Ball

The difference between a 2-piece and 3-piece golf ball is distance and level of softness. A 2-piece ball is firm and only used on mini golf and driving ranges. A 3 piece golf ball is higher quality and its softer feel offers the golfer better control.

I have compared both the 2-piece balls and 3-piece balls so you can understand the differences:

  • 2-piece balls are usually cheaper than 3-piece balls. This is because the 2-piece balls have a hardcover whereas the 3-piece balls have a soft rubber cover followed by an outer covering. The extra layers in the 3-piece balls make it more expensive to manufacture.

  • Amateurs and beginners prefer balls with less spin. 2-piece balls offer lesser spin and more forgiveness to the golfer. Once you have a fair bit of control you can move over to the 3-piece balls.

  • If you are looking to buy something that will not get worn out easily, then a 2-piece ball might be the right one for you. The outer plastic covering makes it very durable whereas the soft nature of the 3-piece ball makes it susceptible to cuts and scratches.

  • The 2-piece balls are quite hard and produce a good amount of impact during a hit. They have a solid and heavier feel when compared to the 3-piece balls.


3-Piece Vs 4-Piece Golf Ball

The difference between a 3-piece and 4-piece golf ball is that the 4-piece ball is designed with an extra middle layer which increases driving distance.

A 3-piece ball is made up of 3 different layers. It has a core and a mantle followed by an outer layer. Similarly, the 4-piece ball has a 4-layer structure.

I will help you understand more about the differences between a 3-piece ball and 4-piece ball.

  • A 4-piece ball has a multi-core construction. The core is made up of 2 different materials which offer better precision than 3-piece balls.

  • The urethane coating in a 4-piece ball is known to give it the drop and stop action. 3-piece balls are easy to control and maneuver. 4-piece balls absorb the shock of the impact through the core and help in achieving great distances.

  • 4-piece balls are expensive compared to 3-piece balls. This is mainly due to the fact that they have an extra middle layer. If you’re looking for something that is affordable and durable, a 3-piece ball might be a good option for you.

  • Four-piece balls are more suited for professional players. If you don’t have high swing speeds, it is best not to choose a 4-piece ball. These balls are better left for professional golfers who have the skills to make use of them.

  • A four-piece ball can give you what is called a high iron spin. This will help you add accuracy and precision to your iron shots.


Best Two-Piece Golf Balls

Now that you know the difference between the various golf balls, you might be wondering about the best brands and models.

The best two piece golf balls are:

  • Callaway Warbird
    Known for its high-velocity shots, this ball can easily travel long distances while also spinning less. This ball is ideal for an amateur player.

  • Srixon Hi-Spin
    This is a compression ball model and helps the ball travel great distances without impacting the control aspect.

  • Dunlop LoCo
    The Dunlop LoCo is ideal for medium swing speeds. It provides low compression and more accuracy. Expect a reduced amount of spin when using this ball.


Best 3-Piece Golf Balls

3-piece balls are an excellent option if you are a seasoned player. For people with high swing speeds and a good degree of control over their shots, the 3-piece ball is recommended.

The multi-core construction makes the balls have a soft feel and give a higher degree of precision to the user.

Due to the soft nature of the core, these balls can help generate more distances by compressing the core. The mantle layer serves to provide more control of the shot and you can easily shape the shot while giving it a good velocity. These balls work well with all types of clubs, drivers and woods.

The best three piece golf balls are:

  • Titleist ProV1
  • TaylorMade Project (a)
  • Bridgestone e6
  • Bridgestone Tour BX


Best 4-Piece Golf Balls

Some of the best 4-piece balls I have found are:

  • Titleist Pro V1x Golf Balls – Prior Generation
    This model provides a drop and stop control. It is known for its durability and trajectory motion.

  • Callaway 2018 Chrome Soft Truvis Shamrock Golf Balls
    These balls provide good mishit forgiveness. It features a large inner core which in turn helps provide a high launch angle. This ball is the ideal combination of speed, distance, and launch angle.

  • Srixon Z-STAR XV Golf Balls
    Srixon’s Z Star XV balls have a skip skin coating which creates high friction on impact. This ball has been highly recommended for its spin control and consistency. These balls create less drag and thus generate a lot of distance.


What are Solid Core Golf Balls

Solid core golf balls refer to the inner layers of golf ball construction. Golf balls come in a variety of layering options. In most cases the core is either made up of a solid or liquid material. This core will be typically covered by other layers. Urethane.

These days there are different types of materials being used for the solid core. Rubber, high-energy acrylate, and resin are some of the most commonly used materials for the core.

A Surlyn layer is usually found covering the core. The solid core gives the ball a firmer feel. A firmer ball is easier to control and produces more distance and velocity on being hit. Solid core balls are very commonly used and preferred by both professionals and amateurs alike.

Keep in mind that the size of your golf ball also will affect everything from distance to spin levels. I have written a useful guide here on Golf Ball Sizes



Golf balls are often the items that golfers most neglect. Many people invest a lot in drivers and clubs but fail to realize that getting the perfect ball is paramount to their success.

Balls are broadly classified into 2, 3 and 4-piece balls. Each of these balls has a specific design and is constructed for a specific purpose. Some can help to cover great distances while others produce low spin.

Golf balls with multi-core constructions help to shape and control the ball. Ideally, you should try out the various balls and decide the right one for you based on your style of playing.

If you’re a beginner, I recommend starting with 2-piece construction, and then try out other designs as you progress.

Aside from layers in the construction of your golf ball, the color of your ball also can make a significant difference. Have a read of my article called White Vs Yellow Golf Balls to learn the differences.


Ernie loves documenting interesting facts about golf.

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