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What Do The Numbers On Golf Balls Mean?

If you love the game of golf, you know there are many different rules of the game that are important to understand.

Some rules are more obvious than others and some are either overlooked or perhaps you just weren’t aware of.

For example, there are reasons why golf ball manufacturers put numbers on the golf balls. 

But not many people know those reasons. 

You most likely have seen the numbers that are printed on each golf ball but didn’t know what they actually mean.

Keep reading to learn more about the different numbers that are placed on golf balls. 

What Do The Numbers On Golf Balls Mean? titleist ball 3

What do the numbers on golf balls actually mean?

Although not every manufacturer is the same, most of them will print either 1,2, or 3 digits on the golf ball. Each number can have a different meaning. 

Single-digit number

If you see a golf ball with a single number printed on the center of it, this is for identification purposes only. The different numbers will allow you to identify your ball from other players in your group. If several players were all using a ball with the same manufacturer and number on it, it will be difficult to determine which ball to play as they look the same. 

Most manufacturers will place a single digit from 0-9 on the center of the ball. The number 3 is very common but you can see other numbers as well. 

There is no specific golfing rule that states what number must be used. Numbers 1,2,3,4 are the most common. 

If you are playing in a group with others and everyone has the same numbered golf balls, you can mark your initial on the ball to identify it from others. 

man holding Titleist 4

Two-digit number

There are a couple of reasons why a golf ball could have double digits on them. Similar to the single-digit golf balls, it helps to identify the ball from others. 

Also, you may have heard of golf ball compression or compression rating. This refers to how tightly wound its core threads are. 

The tighter they are, the more compressed the core of the ball is. Compression is when the golf ball is pushed up against the face of the club when you make contact. The lower the compression, the further the ball will travel.

Manufactures will place a double-digit on the ball to signify its compression rating. These numbers can be between 70-90 with the lower numbers sometimes used for women players and the higher numbers for men. 

See also  How Much Does An Average Golf Bag Weigh?

Compression rating numbers placed on golf balls are not as common as they used to be but it’s still possible to see it. 

golf ball hitting club face
image credit: albund/depositphotos.com

Some players use custom-made golf balls and place their personal numbers on them. 

You can use any number you like as there are no rules in golf that prevent you from using a certain number. 

Pro players will often use a custom-made ball with a number printed on it that is meaningful to them. 

Three-digit number

Some manufacturers will also place a 3 digit number on golf balls. Normally this is to show the number of dimples on the ball itself. 

These numbers can range from 300-500 and similarly to the two-digit numbers, it is not commonly seen these days but it was very common 20 or 30 years ago.  

The number of dimples on the ball will normally be seen printed on the box or packaging if not printed on the ball itself. 

It’s common for a golf ball to have 336 dimples that are placed at a depth of about 0.010 inches. 

What does the color of golf ball numbers mean? 

Although it is not as common anymore, golf ball manufacturers would display the numbers on the ball in the color red or black. 

This was to both help identify the ball and indicate its compression rating. Red was used to identify a 90 compression ball and black was to identify a 100 compression ball. This is not the case anymore. 

Now the color red means the ball is softer and black means the ball is firmer. But this can vary for different manufacturers. 

titleist number 2 ball

Are 25-year-old golf balls still good?

Over time, a golf ball will lose its efficiency and not perform as well as a new golf ball will. Depending on the environmental conditions, and how long the ball has been sitting, a golf ball will last around 10 years. If kept in dry storage at room temperature, the shelf life of the ball will increase. You can still use a ball that is 25 years old, but it may not perform like it did when it was new. 

old  and worn golf ball

Golf ball dimensions and weight

There is a rule that states that a golf ball must have a minimum diameter of 1.68 inches or 42.67 mm. Also, the weight of a golf ball must be more than 1.620 ounces. 

golf ball showing diameter and weight

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