What Do The Numbers On Golf Balls Mean?


Every golf ball out there will have some kind of number on it, but what do the numbers on golf balls mean?


The numbers can have different purposes which are all explained below, and it can vary from brand to brand. 


It can even have some personal meaning for the individual golfer, what numbers are on his/her ball.


Read on to learn more!







Why Do Golf Balls Even Have Numbers On Them?

It wasn’t always like that. Back in the early days of golf, when golf balls were made from wood, leather and sapodilla sap, golfers weren’t as concerned with identifying their ball. Maybe because golf balls didn’t travel as far, or they just weren’t that far in the evolution yet. The rules were probably quite different too back then.


As the game evolved suddenly golf balls were marked with numbers, as a way for the golfers to identify which one was his, if two or more players play the same brand of balls. 




What Do The Numbers On A Golf Ball Mean?

The single most important purpose to numbers on a golf ball is identification. Numbers can vary from single-digit, up to triple-digit and come in black or red colors, but all these different traits are secondary to the main purpose: To know which ball is yours


The number of digits can have different purposes as explained below.





The most common way of numbering a golf ball is with a single-digit right below the brand name. Golf being as traditional a game as it is, the most well-thought-of way of numbering a ball is with the digits 1 through 4. But you can stumble upon numbers from 0 to 9. 


Some manufacturers will even allow you to order whichever numbers you like the most. 


When you’re buying a dozen golf balls it will consist of 4 sleeves of three balls. The three balls of a sleeve are usual of the same number. 





Some manufacturers try to differentiate themselves by adding more digits to the golf ball numbering. 


Maybe they just want to look different and appealing to golfers that way, or maybe it’s the lucky number of one of the pros in their roster. 


Back in the days, double-digits on a golf ball would stand for the compression rating. That is long gone though, and now it’s more cosmetic or for golfers who prefer higher numbers.





Three digits are rarely seen, but a few editions of golf ball have been released with this many numbers. Quite some years ago Bridgestone launched some series with triple-digits, and Titleist has done it too. 


When Titleist did it on their Pro V1’s it was with the numbers 392 on the Pro V1’s and 332 on the Pro V1x’s. It was a direct reference to the number of dimples on the golf ball. 


Not very useful to know, since dimples are complicated to comprehend as part of the golf ball aerodynamics. But Titleist surely did it to make a branding twist on this very classic golf ball.


Here’s an explanatory video of the numbering on golf balls.





Are There Any Restrictions Regarding Numbers On Golf Balls?

There are restrictions on the dimensions of a golf ball. It has to be weighing in on 1.620 ounces (45.93 grams) or less, and have a diameter no less than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm), but that’s about it. 


That means that there are no rules about the numbering and you can print on the golf ball whatever you like. 


If you’re in doubt whether your chosen golf ball conforms with the Rules of Golf, please refer to this document from the USGA.




What Do Golf Balls Numbers Mean To The Pros?

Like mentioned before, some golfers will put a certain meaning into the number on their ball. It can be that they’re just feeling the luck around the number or that they’re downright superstitious about it.


The pros are no exception and there are a few ones of them who have quite some unique numbers on their golf balls. 


Justin Rose, for instance, uses the number “99” on his. “9” is the lucky number of his wife Kate, and he figures that “99” would bring him double the luck. 


Another one is Rory McIlroy which sports the number “22” on his golf balls. He was married to Erica Stoll on April 22nd and that’s why he plays that number and feels like it will bring something extra to his game.


Which number do you play yourself? Leave a comment below.


lucky number on golf ball
For the superstitious golfer, a lucky number on the ball can improve your game 🙂




Custom Numbered Golf Balls

There are a few ways to go about the custom way of marking golf balls. One is to have professionals doing it. There are countless services, most likely some near you, who’ll print whatever you want on the ball.


It can be a good way to personalize your golf ball, either if you have some lucky charm you want to be printed, or a lucky number. 


Another way of marking your ball is to use sharpies and make your own little green dot beside the manufacturer number, or draw a triangle on the side or a line to putt after. The possibilities are endless, and it all comes down to your own personal preferences. 


I personally draw three small dots beside the number, one blue, one red and one green. Don’t ask me why 🙂




Summing It All Up

While there is some significance to the numbering on golf balls, it’s not a very important factor in your normal game. 


It can become quite important though, in a situation where your ball is lost, then found next to another one of the same brand and type. 


You will get penalized for playing another ball than the one you started out with.


So bottom line; take your time to make sure you can identify your ball whether you just use the factory numbering, or you put some kind of personal stamp on it.




FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What Does A High Number On A Golf Ball Mean?

There is no meaning to higher numbers compared to lower numbers. In the modern days of golf, numbering has become something that is only used for identification purposes.


Back in the older days, double-digit numbers could indicate the compression rating, while triple-digit numbers could indicate the number of dimples on the ball.




What Is The Best Golf Ball For Me?

See this is a very individual question, but you should do your best to help yourself choose wisely. A lot of aspects of your game can be impacted by your golf ball choice: Accuracy, distance, ability to shape ball flight, feel, and so on.


Playing the right golf ball for you will have an impact on your game – a positive impact.


Playing the wrong golf ball could have a negative impact, depending on your struggles.




What Do The Arrows On A Golf Ball Mean?

Some golf balls will have arrows or lines on the side. These are meant to help you align to your target the best possible way.


They can help you on the tee, where you can point the line in the direction where you want to hit the ball.


Alignment arrows and lines can also help you on the green since you have the possibility to mark the ball and replace it. A lot of golfers like to get help with an indication of the putting line. Don’t rely too much on this alignment aid though. You should develop a sense of direction yourself. 


What will happen when you run out of balls with alignment aids on?