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USGA Golf Ball List

USGA Golf Ball List

USGA Golf Ball List

How American golf’s ruling body decides what golf balls are appropriate and how.

golf balls

One of the many things that the United States Golf Association (USGA) does is test an enormous number of golf balls sent in by golf manufacturers from all over the world. This is to create a list of only the balls that conform to the Rules of Golf as set forth by the USGA.

This is quite a task. Manufacturers can be tricky.

They all want to claim the longest ball, and they are not above making balls that are at the extreme upper limit of the USGA-allowed specs (or even slightly beyond). The original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will then mark the balls ever so slightly different to create a “different” ball for the USGA to test to see if one or another passes muster. (This is in case the first ball happens to fail the testing.)

That’s why you’ll see golf balls that look and are marked almost exactly the same, except for a small star or asterisk or “+” sign or the like on the side of the ball. There were actually multiple samples of the same ball submitted to the USGA for testing.

golf balls

A USGA golf ball testing robot at its research facility.

The USGA updates this voluminous golf ball list the first Wednesday of the month. You can go to its search page and enter your golf ball info in the selection boxes to find out if the ball you are using is on the official conformance list (Click on image below or here.).

golf balls

Click here to link to the actual USGA Conforming Golf Ball List search engine.

For maximum entertainment, you should download their PDF file of the full 46-page list of conforming balls. (Click on image below for complete golf ball list or here.)

golf balls

Click on image for a complete list of golf balls that conform to USGA rules.

Above you’ll find not only the various markings seen on the pole and equator of each ball, but also such interesting information as what color the particular conforming ball should be as well as its USGA Construction and Spin Rating.

When I saw the codes for the ball construction, I noticed one that was very curious. Along with “2P” and “3P” (for 2-piece and 3-piece), there was a “W” for “wound.”

golf balls

Diagram of a three-piece Callaway golf ball’s construction.

Were there really still wound balls on the list sent in from some unknown ball maker at the end of a dirt road? If so, I wanted to get some.

Few of you probably remember the joy of curving a wound ball left or right at will, with enough backspin to make that baby sit and suck back on command.

Alas, after I searched the entire golf ball list there was not a single wound ball on it.

The last time I saw a freshly made wound ball was around the year 2000. I guess the USGA is keeping this code on the list just in case some manufacturer decides to try this again.

golf balls

Diagram of a wound golf ball.

The last and perhaps most interesting information found on the list is the “Spin Rating.” The USGA has tested each ball to note the spin from a driver (listed first) and an iron (listed second).

Therefore if a ball is Spin Rated as “L-H,” this would mean that the ball was a lower spinner off a driver and a high spinner off an iron.

This type of data may help you in choosing your next brand of ball to better suit your type of game.


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