Golf balls are tested to make sure they conform to the Rules of Golf as established by the United States Golf Association and The R &A in St. Andrews, Scotland.
Golf balls passing these tests are in operation as a Condition of Competition for professional events, as well as all USGA Championships, and only golf balls appearing on the current List may be used during those competitions.
Most importantly, undergoing the USGA conforming testing ensures that the golf ball has met the conditions set by the USGA rules of golf to ensure fairness and consistency of performance.
Golf Ball Testing
Every ball is tested for weight and size to make sure it is within the standards set by the rules of golf.
They also test the golf balls under actual launch conditions to measure overall distance and symmetry. The data derived from these tests are to see if the golf ball conforms to the overall distance and symmetry standards set by the rules of golf.
The overall distance of the golf ball when tested, cannot exceed 317 yards when struck at a set speed by a mechanical robot. The variance tolerance on this is only 3 yards! This ensures that the golf balls don’t go too far and that they are all consistent within the batch of balls. So next time you hear that a particular balls “goes farther”, remember that if it has been deemed conforming by the USGA, it could not have gone past the maximum distance allowed by the rules of golf. The variance tolerance makes sure that the balls are consistent in their performance. There are no “hot” balls or no underperforming balls.
The symmetry test is a test where they strike the golf ball on the “pole” and the “seam” to make sure they don’t carry farther regardless of which axis the ball is spinning about when in the air. This makes sure the ball is not designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to travel farther when it is struck on a different part of the golf ball. It ensures consistency, uniformity and fairness of the golf ball. The distance variance tolerance on the symmetry test is only 4 yards. In other words, a ball struck on the pole versus the seam can only travel within 4 yards of each other.
Overall, these tests ensure that all golf balls tested conform to the rules of golf set by the USGA and the R&A. The conformity tests ensure the fairness and consistency of the golf balls and that they are uniform in performance. That no one has an unfair advantage over their playing partners or competitors during play.