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Golf Ball Vs Hockey Ball – 10 Key Differences

At first glance, golf and hockey balls appear somewhat similar – both are small, solid spheres used in popular sports. But when you look closer, there are many differences between the two balls:

  • Weight – Golf balls are lighter
  • Size – Golf balls are smaller
  • Materials – Golfs have plastic coatings, hockey balls are vulcanized rubber
  • Purpose – Optimized for different sports
  • Bounce – Golf balls bounce less than hockey pucks
  • Speed – Golf balls reach faster speeds
  • Hitting method – Golf balls are lofted, hockey pucks are slapped
  • Durability – Hockey pucks withstand more abuse
  • Seams – Hockey pucks have exposed seams
  • Cost – Hockey pucks are cheaper

Let’s explore these key differences in more detail:

Male college student running with hockey stick and ball

Difference in weight

The standard hockey puck weighs between 5.5 to 6 ounces. Golf balls tip the scales at just 1.5 to 1.7 ounces.

The heavyweight hockey puck glides and slides across the ice. The featherlight golf ball flies through the air easily when struck.

I remember as a kid trying to smack a hockey puck with a golf club. Could barely make it move! Really showed me how light golf balls are optimized for air flight.

Difference in size

Hockey pucks have a diameter of 3 inches and a thickness of 1 inch. Golf balls measure 1.68 inches across – more than 40% smaller.

The hockey puck’s larger surface area makes it ideal for passing and handling with hockey sticks. Golf balls are miniscule by comparison.

My brother and I had fun dropping golf balls into the top of hockey pucks when we were young! The size difference was remarkable.

Difference in bounce

On ice, hockey pucks slide and glide smoothly with little bounce. Golf balls are designed to maximize energy transfer from the clubface, so absorb impact and bounce minimally.

Hockey requires effortless puck control as it sticks to the ice surface. Golf relies on precise ball compression with each shot.

I learned golf ball physics the hard way, chipping balls against garage walls as a kid! Very different bounce compared to a hockey puck against the boards.

Materials used

Hockey puck

  • Vulcanized rubber
  • Low density granular filler
  • Frozen to keep solid

Golf ball

  • Solid rubber core
  • Surlyn or urethane cover
  • Dimpled exterior

Hockey pucks need density to glide on ice. Golf ball materials create resilience off the clubface and consistent air flight.

Cutting open balls and pucks in high school physics was eye-opening! The perfect materials for each sport’s needs.

History of both balls

Golf balls evolved with material advances across centuries. Hockey pucks have changed little since the sport’s origins.

Golf ball history

  • Feather stuffed leather balls in 1400s
  • Gutta-percha balls in 1600s
  • Rubber cores from 1900s
  • Surlyn covers in 1960s

Hockey puck history

  • Origins in ball and stick games from 1800s Canada
  • Early pucks of wood then frozen rubber
  • Standard rubber puck since late 1800s

The golf ball transformed with technology while the hardy hockey puck retains its simple, functional design.

Speed they travel

When struck, golf balls attain much faster speeds:

  • Golf ball off driver clubface: 150-180 mph
  • Hockey puck slap shot speed: Up to 110 mph

The light golf ball converts clubhead speed into ball velocity efficiently. The heavy puck doesn’t get up to pace as quickly.

We tested ball speeds for science class – the golf ball absolutely flew off the clubface faster than a hockey puck off a stick.

How fast is a serve?

Golf balls don’t really have serves, but initial drive speeds are:

  • 60 mph for novice golfers
  • Over 200 mph for pro drives

Hockey doesn’t involve serves either. Top slap shot speeds are:

  • 90-100 mph range for most players
  • 110+ mph for elite professionals

Power and technique generates the fastest shots in both sports. But golf ball speeds are higher.

My top hockey slap shot is about 55 mph – pretty tame compared to the big shooters! My golf drive peaks around 90 mph on a good day.

What is the World Record Speed of both?

The highest recorded speeds are:

  • Golf ball211 mph drive by Mauricio De Nardi (2013)
  • Hockey puck118.8 mph slapshot by Denis Kulyash (2011)

It takes perfect timing, technique and lots of lower body torque to achieve those insane ball speeds.

The margins for error are so fine at those velocities – amazing they pulled it off!

How both compare to balls from other sports

Baseballs need to bounce off bats and mitts, so are a bit softer. Tennis balls bounce consistently on grass or clay.

Soccer balls are largest and most lightweight for kicking. Football’s shape allows throwing spirals.

The materials and designs make each ball perfect for its sport. Golf and hockey are no different.

Understanding ball mechanics helped me improve my sporting skills and appreciate the science behind the equipment.

The best makes of balls for either sport

Golf: Titleist, Callaway, Bridgestone, Srixon

Hockey: Franklin, Bauer, A&R Sports, Green Biscuit

For amateur sport, any quality ball will do. But pros rely on Tour-standard gear from the top brands.

I learned golf with old scuffed balls from garage sales! The pros dial in their Titleists perfectly. Same for hockey stars with custom pucks.

Best ways to store or maintain the balls

Golf balls

  • Keep in temperature controlled room
  • Clean after use and allow to fully dry
  • Replace immediately if cut or cracked

Hockey pucks

  • Store at room temperature
  • Keep surface debris free
  • Avoid cracks or chunks of rubber separating

With basic care, both can maintain quality for a reasonable lifespan.

I mark my golf balls for reuse until worn out. Hockey pucks I go through faster smacking against surfaces!

How a new one compares to an older one.

When new, both balls are pristine:

  • Perfectly smooth exterior
  • Consistent hardness and bounce
  • Bright white color

Older balls show wear:

  • Scuffs, dings, and surface tears
  • Fading or yellowing of the materials
  • Inconsistent performance

While old balls are fine for casual play, nothing beats that new ball feel and optimal consistency.

I love opening a sleeve of Titleists – so bright white and perfectly dimpled! Old balls just don’t perform the same.


While superficially similar, hockey pucks and golf balls differ substantially in materials, construction and purpose to match their sports. Understanding these differences provides insight into the science behind optimizing sports equipment. Next time you hit the course or rink, remember the engineering inside those balls and pucks!