You don't have to make an appointment with a launch monitor to do it, either. Just choose the appropriate ball from the new Jack Nicklaus models based on the tees you usually (or should) play. The Nicklaus White ball is designed for golfers who typically tee off from the forward or white tees; Blue is for those who prefer the middle or blue tees; and Black is for lower-handicap golfers who might use the back or black tees.
The Nicklaus White is for players who swing under 90 mpg (that's most of us, in case you didn't know), Blue for 90-105 mph better players (are you really in the top 10%?), and Black for guys who really do hit their drives 280 yards without a tail wind and three-story down-sloping fairway.
Does it really make a difference? I put all three models to the test recently in an unscientific but fair trial. My driver swing speed (91 mph) is right on the line between white and blue. I played each ball for six holes on three different courses--Salem CC, Pelham CC, and Whippoorwill CC--on three successive days. I played from my usual tees at each, which were:
Salem CC White tees 6,486 yards par 72 72.1 rating 137 slopeFYI, I shot my handicap or better on two of the three rounds (Pelham and Whippoorwill) and was over by three shots at Salem so the overall performance was pretty standard for me.
Pelham CC Blue tees 6,388 yards par 70 72.2 rating 138 slope
Whippoorwill CC White Tees 6,327 yards par 71 71.4 rating 142 slope
The ball that performed best over the three rounds was the one the literature would suggest for my swing: Nicklaus White. On the 18 holes I played it, I scored a stroke better than my handicap. The other two were slightly higher, with Blue at two strokes over and Black one over. It's not exactly a FDA-human-trial-quality experiment, but it's good enough for me.
Generally speaking, I couldn't feel much difference off the driver face between the White and the Blue but the Black really "clicked" and probably gave me a couple more yards off the tee. Where the White performed best was with my irons and around the green. I felt it compress more often with a full swing and it seemed to hold the greens better. That would make sense given my swing speed.
In addition to easy selection and an easy-on-the-pocketbook price, the Nicklaus Golf Balls carry another big advantage: every sale supports the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and St. Jude's. Available exclusively at www.nicklaus.com and through pro shops at the more than 200 Nicklaus Design courses in the U.S., a percentage of the sales price is donated to the charities. Consumers using nicklaus.com to purchase balls at essentially a wholesale price also receive free shipping. If via FedEx delivery services, an additional donation is made to St. Jude.
Online sales save golfers money because distribution costs typically built into product sold through traditional retail channels have been reduced. This allows Nicklaus Golf Balls to be priced attractively at $28 to $32 per dozen and generate greater charity donations. Visitors to nicklaus.com can also make voluntary contributions; to date, nearly 80 percent of consumers have opted to make a donation.
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf