Nearly every piece of golf equipment can be tested and optimised for your game, but the golf ball tends to be forgotten. Almost 40 percent of the balls purchased today are the cheapest options that focus on tee-shot performance only, according to Golf Datatech.

We believe this one-dimensional approach is shortsighted. The Hot List is meant to guide your search to the most beneficial balls on the market. We consult scientists, retailers and everyday golfers to identify which balls perform best in all phases. This includes a week in which we tested 72 balls at the Marriott Grande Vista Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Our process involves multitudes of shots in different situations, but despite this collective effort, here’s the thing: you need to evaluate your golf-ball choice with just as much rigour. Take multiple models to the short-game area and, when you can, on the golf course to see the differences. To us, the right golf ball is the one that helps all your shots, not just one.

That’s why our list this year awards medals only to the advanced constructions you see in balls that cost $50 or more a dozen. We have two categories – Budget and Premium – and the star ratings and medal designations apply only within each category. Those balls combine distance technology with urethane covers that help produce greenside spin. That’s why they’re the best options, and the Hot List is your first step in finding the right ball.

We consulted scientists, retailers and players to find the balls that matter.

*Balls listed alphabetically in price categories


Premium

Gold

Bridgestone

tour b x/xs/rx/rxs

2020 Hot List: BallsBridgestone stays with its four-model approach: two versions for fast swings (X and XS) and two for sub-105-miles-per-hour tempos (RX and RXS). The key is a cover that produces more spin greenside without robbing distance off the tee.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★★
Feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★½


Callaway

chrome soft/x

2020 Hot List: BallsThese two models are noticeably different from each other. Both are four-piece construction, but Chrome Soft uses a dual core, a single mantle and a urethane cover for soft feel. The X uses a large core, two mantles and a urethane cover for extra ball speed on fast swings.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★★


Mizuno

rb tour/x

2020 Hot List: BallsThese two four-piece, urethane-cover balls have a cone-dimple design and more surface points that produce a more efficient, penetrating driver flight, plus extra metres on full iron shots. The RB Tour works well for steep angles of attack, and the X favours faster swings.v

Performance ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★
Demand 


Srixon

z-star/xv

2020 Hot List: BallsThe three-piece Z-Star and four-piece XV each have a firm, highly resilient mantle layer for more ball speed, plus high launch and low spin on long shots. The thin urethane cover features a supermolecule in the coating to create friction for more spin on short shots.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★


TaylorMade

tp5/x

2020 Hot List: BallsThe soft inner core promotes low spin. That core is surrounded by two layers of stiff rubber to provide speed. The fourth layer is stiffer to boost distance, but it’s resilient enough to withstand impact. The cover’s soft-cast urethane provides spin. The X is firmer.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★★


Titleist

avx

2020 Hot List: BallsThe new AVX has a larger core and a thinner urethane cover than its predecessor. A new mantle layer promotes faster ball speed and lower spin on longer shots for a distance boost. A revamped dimple pattern promotes a piercing trajectory for more controlled shots.

Performance ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★★


Titleist

pro v1/x

2020 Hot List: BallsA thinner cover and a thicker mantle layer drive distance. The outermost portions of the solid core (V1) and dual core (V1x) are stiffer yet maintain soft centres. The result is more ball speed and less spin on the longest shots while maintaining feel.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★★★★


Volvik

xt soft

2020 Hot List: BallsThe soft-rubber core uses bismuth, a rare heavy metal. It’s used in the outer portion of the core to improve resiliency and promote better energy transfer. The three-piece ball features a urethane cover with a three-line alignment stamp to assist with putting.

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★
Feel ★★★★
Demand 


Wilson

staff model

2020 Hot List: BallsThe use of zinc pentachlorothiophenol has the effect of bolstering the speed of the core during the curing process. The result is a mid-hardness core that provides velocity and contributes to higher spin. The new cast-urethane cover is more scuff resistant.

Performance ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★
Demand ½


xxio

x

2020 Hot List: BallsXXIO’s X ball is for moderate swing speeds. The three-piece construction starts with a low-compression core that generates ball speed. The ball features a similar cover formulation as sister company Srixon’s balls for enhanced short-game spin.

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★
Feel ★★★★
Demand 


Budget

Gold

bridgestone

e12 soft

2020 Hot List: BallsSoft, yes, but this Surlyn-cover ball also ups the energy in its three-piece construction with the mantle’s composition. It provides a more cohesive bond with the core to boost power on full swings. Its low compression works best for swings slower than 105mph.

Performance ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★
Feel ★★★★
Demand ★★½


Oncore

elixr

2020 Hot List: BallsThe cast-urethane cover on this three-piece model helps greenside spin. That’s a great feature at this price. The mantle uses heavier particles to push mass away from the centre for a more consistent spin rate that’s designed for better flight in the wind.

Performance ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★
Demand 


Snell

mtb x/mtb black

2020 Hot List: BallsThese three-piece designs use cast-urethane covers for short-game spin. The differences come from the mantle layer. The Black’s mantle has a lower-compression for a softer feel and low spin, and the X’s thicker, firmer mantle yields higher mid- and short-iron spin.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★½
Demand ½


Srixon

q-star tour

2020 Hot List: BallsUrethane covers increase spin on wedge shots but don’t help your distance; distance is fuelled by the core. This update expands the size of the core and maintains its lower compression for improved feel and higher launch for those with non-tour-level swing speeds.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★½
Demand ½


TaylorMade

tour response

2020 Hot List: BallsThis ball borrows a version of the mantle layer from the tour-focused TP5. That layer works in multiple ways. Its stiffer, resilient composition is softer than the tour balls but still boosts distance and improves feel. On short shots, it helps pinch the cast-urethane cover for spin.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★★
Feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★★★


Titleist

tour soft

2020 Hot List: BallsSometimes two-piece balls can compromise distance or greenside spin. This update goes after both issues by combining the company’s largest-ever core (distance) with a thinner cover (spin). The material’s four elements mix two for speed with two for soft feel.

Performance ★★★★½
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★½
Demand ★★★★


Vice

pro/plus/soft 

2020 Hot List: BallsNew, faster cores combine with thinner urethane covers on all three models. The low-compression Pro Soft adds speed through a springier mantle. The Pro’s softened compression has a softer mantle, too. The Pro Plus’ two mantles target distance for high-speed players.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★★
Feel ★★★★½
Demand ½


Wilson

duo professional

2020 Hot List: BallsThough its compression is extra-low for a multilayer urethane ball (60), there’s still distance to go with that soft feel. The 40-percent thinner urethane cover allows for a larger core to add more energy on full-swing shots. The mantle and soft cover combine for short-shot spin.

Performance ★★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★★
Demand ★★


Budget

Silver

Cut

dc

2020 Hot List: BallsA rare four-piece model in this price category, it uses a softer inner core with a firmer outer core and a firm overall compression to enhance velocity on full shots. The mantle layer controls tee-shot spin, and it works with the urethane cover for more spin around the green.

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★
Demand


Maxfli

tour/x

2020 Hot List: BallsThe intent here is to optimise performance with every ball. That’s why the centre of gravity is marked on each individual sidestamp. A player then can line it up to the target to maximise distance and consistency. The Tour is softer, and the firmer, dual-core X flies higher.

Performance ★★★★
Innovation ★★★★½
Feel ★★★★
Demand