There are rules to follow in golf in using equipment, even if you prefer that equipment. Golf ball rules are not an exception.
But what makes a golf ball illegal? How would you know it is against USGA rules? We have the answers later!
We tested all the products we recommend below. But we did not expect to find the Bandit SB Golf Ball as the best illegal golf ball on the market today. You can try other brands and see the best ball that fits your skill.
Find more facts about illegal golf balls: who can use them and when to use them and others. Keep on reading, golf lovers!
Our 6 Top Picks: Best Illegal Golf Balls
Best overall: Bandit SB (Small Ball Technology) Golf Balls
Best value for money: Cut Blue Golf Balls, 4-Piece Urethane
Best in distance: Bandit Maximum Distance Golf Balls
Best self-correcting golf balls: Polara Ultra Straight (US) 75% Self-Correcting Golf Balls
Best illegal golf balls that go straight: Polara XDS 50% Self-Correcting Golf Balls
Best in versatility: SAINTNINE U-Pro Golf Balls
6 Illegal Golf Balls- Top Reviews
1. Polara Ultra Straight (US) 75% Self-Correcting Golf Balls (Pack of 12)
Do you want a high percentage of correction in your hooks and slices? Well, the Polara Self-Correcting Golf Balls might do the trick. These golf balls correct hooks & slices by almost 75%. It is not always the case, but you have something to rely on.
When we tested the Polara US Golf balls, we noticed their aerodynamic lift, which helps further carry distance. Although this ball is non-conforming, it is a perfect tool to hone your golf skills.
- Ideal for recreational golfers of all types.
- It is a 2-piece construction with a soft core.
- Each ball has an arrow pointing to your prospective target.
Who should use this product?
Recreational golfers willing to spend more on golf balls but with unquestionable qualities should rely on Polara. Golfers wanting added range should also use this ball. We did around 240-250 yards using this ball, but some golfers attest they can do 250-265 yards.
2. Polara XDS 50% Self-Correcting Golf Balls (Pack of 12)
Another Polara Golf Ball that could correct your slices & hooks, though at 50%, is the Polara XDS. The balls fix hooks & slices better for recreational golfers. But can golf balls correct your shots?
The Polara XDS has less aerodynamic lift providing straighter flight with enough spin for distance. The lower-than-normal ball flight gives golfers an edge in attaining added range.
- The anti-slice feature of the ball trains player to correct their shots.
- Its unique dimple design reduces slices and hooks.
- It is a distance ball.
Who should use this product?
Leisure and recreational golfers seeking more distance and spin should consider the XDS: Even high-handicap players will benefit more from these anti-slice golf balls. The shallow dimples around the center (or the equator line) offer less drag.
3. Bandit Maximum Distance Golf Balls
The name sticks! But these golf balls are very popular with many recreational golfers wanting more distance. The Bandit Maximum Distance Golf Balls are well-known as the longest illegal golf balls. Its longest distance is admirable, but not in official tournaments.
The Bandit Max golf balls are a product of the USA: quality and durability are an assurance. The golf ball exceeds USGA distance limits, which is why it becomes non-conforming in tours.
- The ball has a 2-piece construction with a softer core.
- Its cover is DuPont Lithium Surlyn for a soft feel.
- The center material is a revolutionary reactive core.
Who should use this product?
Recreational players seeking a more adventurous series of golf rounds should use the Bandit Max golf balls. The distance the ball makes is extraordinary compared to regular non-conforming balls.
4. SAINTNINE U-Pro Golf Balls (One Dozen)
Golfers seeking a more versatile ball for pleasure plays may admire the SAINTNINE U-Pro Golf Balls. Many recreational players consider the U-Pro more similar to the Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. Are they exaggerating?
The balls are dirt cheap compared with a ball almost triple its price (Pro V1) may be an exaggeration comparing them. But our tests proved a little difference in feel and sound when putting compared to a Pro V1.
- The U-Pro is a 2-piece urethane-cover golf ball.
- It has the same cover and ply as Pro V1.
- The ball has a 90 compression rating.
Who should use this product?
The U-Pro golf balls do not conform to USAG standards because they provide an unfair advantage. Senior recreational golfers will benefit the most from using these golf balls.
5. Bandit SB (Small Ball Technology) Golf Balls
Small is terrible, so they say! But what you find in Bandit SB (Small Ball) golf balls might interest you: Compared to the Bandit Max, the Bandit SB has an energy-charged and oversized core. The high COR (coefficient of restitution) equates to maximizing ball speed.
The sizeable core is for maximum ball velocity with an improved feel and amplified spin control around the green. Our tests on this ball provide us with around five yards of added distance on average compared to the Bandit Max.
- The ball has a high COR for maximum ball velocity with further distance.
- Bandit SB is smaller at a diameter of 1.65 inches (the legal diameter is 1.68 inches).
- It has 338 dimples (dual radius) for a more aerodynamic ball flight.
Who should use this product?
Many pleasure golfers who are playing not too often should use the Bandit SB golf balls. Hitting the SB keeps pleasure golfers with the minimal score across the greens.
6. Cut Blue Golf Balls, 4-Piece Urethane (One Dozen)
Pleasure golfers wanting long-lasting golf balls for as many rounds should rely on the Cut Blue golf balls. These balls are also cheaper than other golf balls on the market. But they can also provide added distance, especially off the tee.
Cut Blue provides the needed control and spin. Some testers found the cover as an issue, but we found it highly durable, especially in sandy and muddy courses.
- It has a 4-piece construction with a urethane cover.
- The ball carries the DC (dual core) technology.
- It has a firm cover with a soft inner core.
Who should use this product?
Any golfer aiming for distance with control and better spin should consider the Cut Blue golf balls as the priority. Although the ball is illegal in most tournaments, it does not stop you from practicing swings with cheap golf balls.
How to Choose the Right Illegal Golf Balls? A Buying Guide 2024
Illegal golf balls are not bad after all: They are more fun and adventurous to use by recreational and leisure-seeking golfers. They are also a tool for maximizing distance, even for low-swinging golfers. Here are factors to consider when buying illegal golf balls.
Enhancing distance is one of the priorities of recreational golfers. Almost all illegal golf ball brands can make explosive ranges which is why they become illegal. Such balls usually add about 15 yards or more distance than legal balls.
2. Dimple Design
Many illegal golf balls adopt a more advanced dimple pattern that reduces sidespin while enhancing backspin. The upshot is a self-correcting feature minimizing hooks and slices. The result also gives the ball a straighter flight, which is more predictable than legal golf balls.
Non-conforming golf balls, such as the Polara XDS and Polara US golf balls, have asymmetrical dimple designs that contradict USGA rules. Hence, these balls become illegal in tournaments. The unusual dimple design of non-conforming golf balls adjusts the ball spin and corrects its trajectory.
3. Ball Assembly
Many 2-piece illegal golf balls suit beginners and high handicappers because of the ball construction. Average golfers enjoying the thrills of pleasure golf may rely on a 3-piece golf ball. Non-conforming golf balls typically have heavy and thick cores that maximize distance, even for slow-swinging golfers.
Usual golf balls come in white because they are easy to find in greens and contrasting environmental hues. Golfers prefer to see easily in a colored environment (like greens and brownish sand) and can choose the color more visible to them. Other golf balls with high visibility come in yellow, red, blue, and purple.
You might be surprised that many illegal golf balls are pricier than legal ones. Many recreational golfers may prefer these balls when they seldom play the game because the quality is unquestionable.
But there are also cheap illegal golf balls (like some of our reviewed products above) that will suit your budget.
What Are Illegal Golf Balls?
Illegal or non-conforming golf balls are those which fail to meet the rules and restrictions of the USGA (United States Golf Association) and R&A (Royal & Ancient) golfing bodies. USGA says golf balls should abide by the specifications on velocity, weight, symmetry, weight, size (diameter), and distance legal limits.
Golf balls should not exceed 1.68 inches in diameter and 1.62 ounces in weight. The rules also specify that golf balls should have a spherically symmetric shape with a maximum velocity of 173.50mph.
Why Some Golf Balls are Not Conforming?
Some golf balls become non-conforming because of their construction: They have super heavy with hard and oversized cores from high-technology formulas. These golf ball features provide an unfair advantage in official tournaments.
Golf balls that exceed the required weight (1.62 ounces or 45.93 grams) by USGA are already illegal. The dimple pattern is also one of the big reasons a golf ball may become non-conforming. But anybody can use these balls any time, provided the game is not official.
The USGA has a mandate of keeping its integrity intact throughout a tourney; hence it singles out what type of equipment a player plays or not in a game. The association (USGA) approves or denies golf products before releasing them in the market.
When to Use Illegal Golf Balls?
You may consider using an illegal golf ball in leisure games and not during official rounds. But even in recreational plays, the group or your golf buddies should mutually agree to its utilization. If anyone disagrees, maybe you should use tournament-conforming golf balls.
How Far Do Non-conforming Golf Balls Go?
Many illegal golf balls may go between 10 and 15 yards more than legal balls. Other brands have heavy and unique dimple patterns and may go as far as 20 yards more than regular golf balls.
The added distance, an illegal golf ball may go is not too much, but when pros use them, the range may be double that of beginners or average golfers. It is one of the reasons why the USGA bans these golf balls in their tournaments.
Should You Use Illegal Golf Balls Regularly?
No. It is not recommendable using an illegal golf ball routinely. It is not wrong to use illegal golf balls in leisure games with your golfing buddies as long as everybody agrees. However, a self-correcting golf ball, one of the features of non-conforming balls, may not improve your swing.
You may not correct inaccurate strokes, like slices and hooks, when using illegal balls regularly: Self-correcting golf balls may help find the fairway frequently, but it does not boost your swing speed.
Although illegal golf balls add more distance to your shots, especially off the tee, they will not enhance your skills. Even when using a self-correcting golf ball: you may not find ways to correct slices and hooks when in an actual or official play. Illegal golf balls are best in pleasure games with buddies when the group only seeks fun and adventure.
Not all Volvik golf balls are illegal. One of its most popular non-conforming golf balls is the Volvik 2020 Magma. The balls are illegal because they provide golfers with more explosive ranges, exceeding the USGA distance limit.
USGA certifies the Volvik Magma Golf Balls as non-conforming due to its high-energy dual core that delivers eruptive distance. Its dimples are also an issue. The ball has an aerodynamic design increasing its lift higher than ordinary balls.
Finding the most illegal golf ball falls into choosing consistent precision and range. Our test results always point us to the Bandit SB (Small Ball Technology) Golf Balls as the most illegal golf ball on our lists.
Although all the illegal golf balls we reviewed deliver added distance, the SB Bandit also assists our level of the game. The small diameter of the ball helps minimize the drag while airborne.
The Polara Ultimate Straight goes the farthest among the golf balls we tested. It offers a 75% reduction in hooks and slices recreational golfers may find exciting. The self-correcting golf balls exhibit less aerodynamic lift-enhancing distance.
We can describe the Polara Golf Balls as too powerful compared to regular golf balls. USGA bans the ball in tournaments because it is one of the straightest golf balls. It means the possibility of making a slice or hook in a shot is just 25%. The ball guarantees a 75% reduction on those fault shots.
Not all Nitro golf balls are non-conforming. However, many of its models are illegal as per USGA rules. One of the conforming golf balls of Nitro is the Nitro White OUT Golf Balls. The model has a 2-piece with a Soft Dupont Lithium cover.
Yes, illegal balls may help in your short games. Although most non-conforming balls are for distance, the dimple patterns make them an ideal choice for short games.
Yes, they are. Illegal golf balls are built for distance; though more than the USGA limits.
MG balls are for the individual golfer with less than 250 yards of driving distance. The ball is illegal because it has a meager low compression rating making it flies longer and higher. The MG ball construction is also an issue: It is a 3-piece ball with rubber or a liquid-produced ply molded into Surlyn or Urethane cover.
Kirkland golf balls are legal, according to USGA and R&A rulings. One of its well-loved conforming golf balls is the Kirkland Signature Golf Ball.
Yes, there are golf balls that could rectify slices and even hooks. Golf balls, like the Polara Ultra Straight, claimed to self-correct slices and hooks by 75%. The Polara XDS Self-Correcting Golf Ball is another one. The manufacturer asserts this ball can do self-correcting at 50% all the time.
Recreational golfers on a tight budget may consider the Cut Blue Golf Balls in 4-Piece with Urethane cover a better option. It has a top-quality Urethane cover that provides a long-lasting service on your leisure days with your golf buddies.
But our top choice for the best illegal golf ball is none-other-than the Bandit SB (Small Ball Technology) Golf Ball. The U-Pro 2-piece golf ball is similar to the premium Pro V1 golf ball by Titleist though smaller. Its urethane cover has the perfect dual-radius dimple designs providing you with enough lift and aerodynamic control in every shot.
Give non-conforming golf balls a chance to make you enjoy the game with your buddies, but do not use them regularly. No matter what the rule says: a brand-new adventure and joyous games are achievable in golf, albeit escaping from reality for a while!
Read more: Top 10 Longest Golf Balls For All Golfers
Matt Stevens is the founder of Golfrough.com. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf since he was four years old. Having experienced every high and low golf has to offer, his writing helps the average golfer avoid the mistakes he has made in 28-years on the course.