When Should You Get an Upgrade?

Friday, May 5, 2006; 8:12 AM

Q & A

At what point should I consider upgrading the ball I play?

John Bohlmann, head pro at Needwood Golf Course, said it's time once a player can get the ball up in the air consistently -- having gotten rid of most worm-burners, topped dribblers and quail shots into the woods. Another sensible approach: Don't go upmarket until you're losing only a ball or two per round.

When it's time, "your average player is looking more for distance than spin," said Troy Reynolds, head pro at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club in Leesburg. Golfers with scores hovering at the century mark lack the fine touch around the greens needed to benefit from a high-end ball's softer feel.

For step-up players, Reynolds favors the Titleist DT Solo , one of several balls that mixes good distance with a slightly softer cover at a mid-market price (about $22 a dozen).

Consumer Reports recently did a test of dozens of balls and concluded that all golf balls travel about the same distance when hit by robots .

The best value of the bunch: Nike Power Distance Super Soft ($14 a dozen), which outperformed the $44-a-dozen, market-leading Titleist Pro V1s (as well as Nike's own One Black, $41 a dozen).

Worst ball? Let's just say those Top Flight cheapies are worth every penny you pay for them.

-- David Betancourt

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