Aug 12, 2022
POSTED BY: Nicholas Venditti

What Do the Numbers on Golf Balls Mean?

At face value, golf is not an incredibly complicated game. Players work their way across the course, hitting balls into holes. But serious golfers know that there's much more depth and nuance to the game than may be seen at first glance.

One of the lesser-known facts about the sport is the golf balls themselves. Have you ever picked up a ball and wondered what the various numbers stamped on the surface represent? It may be a surprise that these seemingly random digits hold unique insights that could even improve your game. Here's what you need to know.

Single-Digit Number

See a single-digit number printed on your golf ball? Most often, this is simply there for identification purposes. 

Manufacturers include these numbers, typically close to the brand name or logo so that players can differentiate between one ball and another. That way, if you're playing with others with the same balls, you'll never get them mixed up! 

It's common for golfers to try and keep track of their individual balls by a single-digit number. However, no rule in golf states that a player needs to use the same numbered ball for the entire game. 

Generally, manufacturers print the numbers in black or red. While the color may have held significance in the past, it doesn't mean anything specific in today's day and age.

Two-Digit Number

When you see a 2-digit number listed on a golf ball, more often than not, that represents the ball's compression rating. 

If you find this number printed on a golf ball, there's a good chance it's pretty old. Most manufacturers have stopped including this due to poor associations with lower compression ratings. 

A compression rating, in theory, indicates the feel of the ball. Lower ratings in the 70-80 range signify a ball for someone with a lighter swing, while higher ratings closer to 100 would be a ball for someone with a harder swing. The more a ball compresses, the greater amount of energy is transferred from the club to the ball, meaning it has the potential to travel a further distance. Less compression results in a lower energy transfer from the club head, which could affect the distance your ball flies.

In the past, the ink color used on a golf ball indicated the compression ratings. For example, red would signify a lower rating, and black would suggest a higher rating. 

However, this is a thing of the past. Manufacturers eventually fazed it out when the industry moved away from using compression ratings on balls. Some experts insist that compression rating matters, but it’s not as commonly discussed anymore. 

Three-Digit Number

Typically, there are between 300 and 500 dimples on a single ball. If you see three digits, there's a good chance they signify the number of dimples on that ball. If you know what to look for, you can save a lot of time counting!

It may surprise most people that the dimples on a golf ball can make a difference in how that ball performs when it comes into contact with a player's club. Aerodynamic research has shown that a golf ball with a smooth surface will only fly half the distance compared to a ball with dimples. That's a big difference! 

As such, the 3-digit number stamped on a golf ball may substantially impact your performance. 

Other Numbers On a Golf Ball

There is no limit to the number of digits printed on a golf ball. Because there are no regulations, many professional golfers choose to personalize their balls by adding unique numbers with personal or symbolic meaning. It's not uncommon for players to customize their balls with lucky numbers and other significant digits. 

Some major companies make it easy for golfers to personalize their balls by giving them the option to add any 2-digit numbers between 00 and 99. 


With the number of active golfers in the millions continually growing every year, many new people will join the sport and ask questions about the game's oddities and nuances. Knowing what the numbers on a golf ball stand for allows you to be a leader in the pack and help educate novices as they begin their journey in the game. It could just enhance your game, too!

Another way to stand out as a leader is to look the part. Shop STITCH Golf today for apparel, gear, and golf bags, made for pros and amateurs alike.