numbers on golf balls

What do the numbers on golf balls mean?

When you open up a box of golf balls, the first thing you notice is that there are various numbers printed on it. Find out why there are those.

The numbers on the golf balls

Once I bought a box of golf balls when a friend of mine who is a total stranger to the golf sport was with me. He opened the box and the moment he noticed some numbers he asked me why there are such numbers. I was a novice at the time and I did not have any idea. Then, as soon as I got back home, I checked it on the internet and I found the reason behind the numbers.

There are up to 4 different numbers on the golf ball. Some are single digit, some are double-digit, some are triple-digit numbers.

Why are there such numbers? Are these your lucky numbers? Let’s find out together.

Single Digit Numbers

1 - What does fore mean in golf?The first one you notice on the golf ball is the single-digit number just because the manufacturers place it right below the brand name or logo. They can range from zero to nine however, mostly they are numbered from one to four.

This number is printed there for one purpose: To differentiate your ball from other people’s. If you went to a golf course as a group of four and if your group is comprised of similar levels of players, it is common to strike the ball to closer places. So, it is crucial to mark your ball not to have any confusion. You can grasp how important it is if you are playing in a tournament or competitive golf. If you hit somebody else’s ball, no matter it is by accident or on purpose, you will receive a penalty. So, this identification number can be critical.

However, sometimes you and your playing partner may be using the same brand and you may have the same identification number. What do you need to do in such a case? You can simply mark your ball with a marker. You can write your initial letters or sign it. Anything that ensures you are hitting the correct ball works.

There are 12 golf balls in a golf box and the balls are numbered from 1 to 4. In order to avoid any confusion, the manufacturers put them in sleeves of 3. So, if your playing partner brings the same brand, you can simply give one of your golf balls from another sleeve.

Double-Digit Numbers

golf ball with numbers 77 on itThe double-digit numbers may be doing the same job as single-digit numbers do nowadays. They work as an identification number. I guess Taylormade still employs the same purpose. However, most other golf equipment manufacturers used to print double-digit numbers for another intention. They would show the compression rate of the golf ball.

Even though it is still in use as of today, not many manufacturers do it in this day and age as many golfers do not care much about it. In the 90s, there were numbers like 60, 70 or 80 showing the compression rate. When it was a lower number, this meant that the ball was manufactured for a female golfer. In a similar fashion, if the number got higher, the ball is more suitable for a male golfer in this case. Yet, this is a bit controversial. As we know from the physics of golf, the compression rating depends on how fast you hit the ball. So, if your swing speed is higher, the compression rate needs to be higher.

As we said, a minuscule number of golf equipment manufacturers produce such balls. If you still keep some balls from the 90s, it was a myriad of two-digit numbers. I personally like it as it gives us more technical details of the golf ball. Not because it would change anything, I am just interested in such things.

Triple Digit Numbers

golf ball with tour b308 written on itWhen you look around your golf ball, you will see a three-digit number print. This number is between three to five hundred. As it is very convenient to guess, it marks how many dimples there are on that ball.

As a comparison, the 90s were the years where details were given more but nowadays the simplicity of designs is the new fashion. This fashion also eradicated triple-digit numbers. As a rule of thumb, I would say the number of manufacturers that print the dimple numbers constitute about fifty percent of all manufacturers. I see some brands keep doing it and others do not. Even the ones that do not print the dimple numbers on the ball actually print it on their boxes.

To be clear, the number of dimples has nothing to do with your performance. It also does not mark how good the ball is. It is just a number, mere statistics.

Other Numbers

If you are more than a casual golfer, you start to ascribe a meaning to your golf balls. I know some of my friends name their golf clubs like Jade, Hannah or Charlotte. So, it is the same for golf balls. You can write a number on your own with a marker or you can just have it printed. For example; Rory McIlroy has famous for having “22” on his golf balls. When asked why, he said that he does not want to forget his wedding anniversary, which is the 22nd of April.

Some companies offer that you can print a double-digit number from “00 to “99”. For example, if you want to have your kids’ birth year, you can have the last two digits.


To sum up, Golf has a rich history and an incredible amount of tradition. I sometimes feel that it would take years for anyone to learn every rule or detail of golf. “The numbers on golf” is just one of them. If you want to learn more about golf, the best time to start is now. Yet, I cannot guarantee a human’s lifetime will suffice.

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